Last October we set sail from Maldon on the Sailing Barge ‘Thistle’ (read our article here). It was chilly, but a great day out, and when we saw it in the distance, we resolved to pay Heybridge Basin a visit as soon as possible.
We did that today, on a gorgeous Sunday on the Bank Holiday weekend. It was bright, but with just a bit of a breeze to stop it getting too hot. And what a hidden gem Heybridge Basin is! Just a couple of miles north of Maldon, you’ll find it off the B1026, and follow the signs for Daisy Meadow Car Park. It’s free, which is great, but it’s not the biggest – so if you head there in the middle of a very busy day you’re going to end up hunting a parking space!
There are great views of the Blackwater estuary and Osea Island, and today there were boats of all shapes and sizes on the water. There’s a sea lock which joins the Chelmer and Blackwater canal to the estuary, where in the days gone by vessels used to head up the 13 miles of the canal to Chelmsford. The lock-keeper’s cottage is still there, and two pubs nearby, testament to how busy this must once have been. Where the pubs used to serve gnarly sea-farers, now it’s holidaymakers and visitors!
Whilst we were there we saw the locks being opened manually, and at a leisurely pace. The Old Ship overlooks the lock, and it was busy serving food, and with a selection of local real ale, it’s a great place to have a drink whilst sitting on the grass by the lock.
You can walk a long way in a variety of directions. Heading north you can go right up and through the sailing club, where today boats were taking to the water every couple of minutes. There’s also the Wilkin & Son tea room ‘The Lock’ which is immaculately presented, with plenty of room inside and out, and even on a busy day was turning out their lovely sandwiches with barely a few minutes wait.
Heading south you can follow the water round until you see Maldon in the distance. Indeed, it’s close enough for the more dedicated and experienced walkers to get to and from Heybridge from Maldon. If you haven’t been there, we’d recommend you put it towards the top of your list!