The River Stort Navigation - walking the towpath from Bishops Stortford to the River Lee.
The River Stort offers boats as well as cyclist and walkers a link from Bishops Stortford in England to the Lee Navigation thus access to both the River Thames and 100s of miles of English Canals.
Many years before the eventually extensive canal systems (The Grand Junction Canal and The Oxford Canal amongst others) were constructed and used for transporting goods etc. around England several rivers in southern England were quite heavily utilised commercially - one of which was the River Stort.
The River Stort starts it's life in Clavering, Essex and initially is a quite narrow shallow, twisting little river down as far as the centre of Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire.
From there the remaining 22 kilometres have been made navigable with an accompanying towpath so that
the river provides narrowboat access to The River Lee Navigation at Feildes Weir near Hoddesdon
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Narrowboats and barges therefore have access to the English Canal systems via the Lee Navigation and then via The Regents Canal
onto the Paddington Canal Arm
of the Grand Union and the
Grand Union Canal at Brentford
itself at Bulls Bridge. Using the Lee Navigation there is also access to the River Thames at Limehouse in London's East End. The Stort Navigation's fifteen Locks are numbered sequentially from 15 to 1 whilst the Navigation's Bridges are numbered the other way round i.e. 1 to 53.
The locks appear wide and able to take two narrowboats at a time but are in fact only 13 feet wide so cannot do so.
The following Photos show the bridges, locks as well as several of the old mills plus other features which can be seen along the Stort Navigation as it travels from Feildes Weir (Lee Navigation Junction) up to the end of narrowboat navigation at Bishops Stortford.
Brick Lock 14
Brick Lock Gates
Roydon Mill Arm
Railway bridge 7
side bridge 7a
Roydon Lock 13
Hudson Mill Lock
Hudson Mill sidearm
Parndon Lock 11
Pipe + Bridge 15
The Stort Navigation was opened for commercial use towards the end of 1769 with barges carrying various products such as rye, wheat, malt dust, barley, oats,
coal, lime and particularly malt from the important malting industry in Bishops Stortford. The towpath is fully open for use by both cyclists and walkers and in
generally good condition. Much of the route is through peacefull open countryside and very scenic especially in Spring and Autumn. For cyclists who want to cycle the whole length of the
navigation there is a frequent railway service between Bishops Stortford and Broxborough so it's possible to use the Lea Navigation and then The Stort
for a one way ride. This is probably too far to walk but you can park in Roydon's Council car park (which on our last visit was free unlike the railway station car park) and then wander down to the station and take a train to Bishops Stortford and walk back along The Stort to Roydon (around 13 miles).
Burnt Mill Lock
Latton Lock 9
Harlow Lock 8
Feakes Lock 7 gates
Side Bridges 29+30
Sheering Mill Bridge
Sheering Mill Lock
Old mill buildings
Tednambury Lock 4
Spellbrook Lock 3
Twyford Lock 2
Bridge 48b crosses The Stort
South Mill Lock area
South Mill Lock 1
South Mill Lock 1
Weirs, Southmill Lock
Station Road bridge
Causeway Bridge 53
Now The Stort
Once the waterway reaches Causeway Bridge in the centre of Bishops Stortford, the Stort Navigation returns to simply being The River Stort - a nice tree-lined
and narrow river with parkland and play areas either side of it - this is where the river starts heading off back to it's source in Essex. On one side of the river there are the
remains of the 11th Century Bishops Stortford Castle - however the castle is little more than a large mound and you cannot always get onto this and take a look at it as sometimes the entrance gate at the top of the steps is locked.
If our old English river navigations are of particular interest you may like to look at our several topics about the Kennet and Avon Canal
- most of which is also "river" rather than actual cut canal as it is "The
River Kennet" out of Reading, some miles of canal in the middle and then ends up as the "River Avon" at it's Bristol end.