What is Sudbury to the Sea?
This popular event takes place annually over a weekend in September. Participants navigate the 24½ miles (37km) of the River Stour, from Sudbury to Cattawade, enjoying its many delights and seeing parts of the local countryside that are inaccessible by foot or road.
It has been part of our calendar in one form or another since the 1970’s and was for many years known as ‘The Length of the River Cruise’. In 2005, it was re-branded Sudbury to the Sea although it is most commonly referred to using the acronym, S2C. The event was originally designed to ensure that the Navigation was used and to note any problems on the river. These are still important aspects but it is generally regarded as a social paddle and fundraising event for the River Stour Trust.
Our volunteer marshals are positioned along the route at some of the portages to offer guidance and at checkpoints to check you in and out within the agreed time slots. We also operate the working locks enabling some S2Cers to experience lock passage instead of portaging. Our safety boat sweepers also follow craft as part of the safety margin. We shall do our best to make sure there are food and drink providers at variouis stages (please bring cash and card).
Participants need to provide their own craft (registered for navigational use on the river), personal safety equipment, transport at either end of the event, accommodation for the Saturday night (optional campsite pitch reserved at the midway stage), and suggested basic kit list items as listed below.
All participants agree to abide by our rules – click here.
Do I need to be an experienced paddler?
Sudbury to the Sea is suitable for novice paddlers who are competent and confident in handling their craft. Our volunteer marshals will be visible along the route (particularly the checkpoints) and will be on hand to provide guidance, but physical assistance cannot be expected or relied upon by any participant. On the river, you will rarely (if ever) be out of sight of other craft and our designated sweeper boats bring up the rear so this forms part of the safety margin.
We strongly advise everyone to keep clear of weirs and sluices and you must be able to manage all portages without assistance i.e. be able to get out of your craft, remove it from the water and carry/drag it around obstacles (such as weirs & locks) along the route, before returning it to the water and continuing.
Why should I take part?
You will be seeing parts of the Essex and Suffolk countryside, Stour Valley and Constable Country that are inaccessible by any other means. You can certainly paddle the river at any other time of the year (and we certainly encourage you to do so) but we think S2C is quite special. The event gives a great sense of achievement (or even bragging rights!) to those taking part and can be a family activity. Our volunteer marshals will encourage you along the route and you’ll be paddling alongside hundreds of friendly S2Cers. Certificates are presented to every finishing participant and we have returning S2Cers who have amassed quite a collection! Your entry fee will go towards the restoration, conservation and education of the Stour Navigation for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.
Do I have to book a place to take part?
Yes! We are limited to how many craft can take part following agreement with the Environment Agency (as the Navigation Authority) and riparian landowners (many of the portages traverse their private land). We will not exceed the maximum permitted entries and if you ‘miss the boat’ (please excuse the pun!) then we can add you to a waiting list on a first come first served basis should anyone drop out ahead of the event.
How and when do I book a place?
You need to complete our entry form and make payment to confirm participation in the event. The majority of people are able to book via our online booking portal but if you are really struggling then drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01787 313199 so we can try and help. We generally open for bookings in July (no set date!) but you can subscribe to our mailing list for S2C information and updates (including priority booking) – click here.
Do I need a permit or licence for my boat to take part?
The simple answer is yes! All craft must be registered to take to the water on any part of the Inland Waterway network of England (canals, rivers, navigations). The Environment Agency (EA) is the navigation authority for the section of the Stour that runs from Brundon Mill (upstream of Sudbury) to Cattawade (near Manningtree).
Any craft used during the event must be registered for navigational use for the duration of the event. This can be achieved by one of the following options:
- British Canoeing ‘on the water’ membership (held by at least one participant in the craft).
- Environment Agency craft registration (previously purchased or via S2C booking process).
- Official S2C Hire Partner craft is being used.
Please ensure you can verify your craft is registered for navigational use. Any craft entry determined to be without valid and acceptable proof at any point during the event must purchase an EA craft registration.
Do you hire craft for the event?
We will share the details of our Official Hire Partners who can rent you a craft for the weekend.
Can I just paddle on one of the S2C days?
You are welcome to take part on one of the days but we will still need to charge you the full fee. You will need to make it very clear on the booking form which day you are paddling so we can identify your entry and inform our marshals.
What are the overnight arrangements?
S2C participants are invited to bring along their own camping equipment to camp overnight at Rushbanks Farm at Wissington. This site is next to the river and is final checkpoint location for the first day. The top field is allocated for S2Cers and we arrange a discounted fee that is collected by the campsite warden (cash only). DO NOT contact the campsite to book!
BUT if you instead want to use the main site where campfires – using Rushbanks firepits only – are allowed or two bell tents are available to hire then you do need to book with them directly.
Of course, there is no necessity to camp if you prefer a bed or live locally. Just make you return on Sunday morning to check out by the stated depart time.
Can I take part in the event to raise money for charity?
We are more than happy for you to use the event to raise money for charity. You will get a certificate when you reach the finish at Cattawade so you are able to prove your success! We would be delighted if you would like to raise additional funds for the River Stour Trust and can provide a sponsorship form upon request.
What do I need to bring?
Your basic kit list will consist of:
– Life preserver/buoyancy aid is essential and is probably the most important piece of safety kit
– Watertight dry bags are a great investment for keeping items onboard dry. This could be a spare set of clothes, your mobile, towels and other items that you really don’t want to get wet. A drybag means you won’t be worrying about your stuff even if you capsize!
– For most water sports, wet shoes are worthwhile. Made from neoprene with rubber soles, they provide fantastic grip when walking on slippery surfaces. They also don’t get water-clogged like trainers will and allow you to walk into the river or sea without fear of stepping on something painful and hurting yourself.
– Mobile phone (fully charged!)
– Basic first aid kit and hand sanitiser
– Card & Cash
– Bottled water & snacks
– Sunscreen and cap
– Appropriate clothing and accessories for warm/cold/wet weather
– A spare change of clothing and footwear in a dry bag
– Helmet is advisable and should be CE approved – CE1385
– Camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc) – unless you set up camp beforehand, or have someone to bring it for you or have alternative overnight arrangements!
Cancellations & Refunds
The River Stour Trust reserves the right to cancel or postpone the event if circumstances beyond our reasonable control will negatively impact on safety. All entries will be automatically carried forward to next year’s event.
Unfortunately, there are no refunds if you withdraw before or during the event.
Do you have a community page where I can ask questions, share thoughts, ideas and photos with other people taking part/interested in S2C?
Yes, we have Facebook and Twitter accounts for S2C. Click on the logos and join us online!