Navigation Guide

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Important Information: ADVICE FOR RIVER USERS – click here.

The RST office is currently closed and unstaffed so visits and phone payments are not possible at this time. However, emails and telephone messages are being checked intermittently.

View map of the Suffolk & Essex River Stour below (click on image to enlarge):

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). Through navigation is possible for all types of craft from Sudbury to Great Henny, travelling through Great Cornard Lock. It is ideally suited to lighter craft, such as canoes and kayaks, that can be portaged between the various structures along the Navigation. However, it is possible to navigate larger craft using the restored locks.

Unpowered craft (i.e. those that are paddled, rowed or sailed) are permitted to travel the whole length of the Stour Navigation, from Brundon Mill to Cattawade. Powered craft, with certain specified exceptions such as the River Stour Trust trip boats, are restricted to the stretch between Ballingdon Bridge and Henny Street. The speed limit is 4 mph.

Read the Anglian Navigation Byelaws.

Craft Registration – 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 takes enforcement action if it finds any boat moored or in use if it is not displaying a current, valid registration plate. All boats kept, used or let for hire on the river must be registered. All vessels kept, used or let for hire on Anglian Waterways must be registered with the Environment Agency in accordance with The Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010, including vessels in marinas and on privately owned moorings.

If you have a boat and you keep it afloat and/or use it on the Anglian waterways, you need to register it, even if you do not use it. Anglian waterways cover the River Great Ouse System, River Nene, River Stour, River Ancholme, Black Sluice, River Welland and River Glen. These requirements extend to boats kept on any part of the EA Anglian waterways including backwaters and marinas. All annual registrations expire on 31 March regardless of when they start. There are no pro-rata annual registration charges.

Register for river use:

  • Environment Agency – You can register your craft (powered or manually propelled) either annually or obtain a short term/visitor registration. Visit the ‘Boating & Waterways’ section of their website.
  • River Stour Trust – can issue craft registrations for manually propelled craft only on behalf of the Environment Agency. We also offer useful optional extras such as the River Stour Navigation Guide and EA Navigation Key. Please note: The RST office is currently closed and unstaffed due to Covid-19 so visits and phone payments are not possible at this time. However, emails and telephone messages are being checked intermittently.
  • British Canoeing – Annual membership permits the member on certain navigations in England and provides other membership benefits. Membership covers the member and not the craft. If you would like to loan your craft to someone else then they also need to be a member or you need to register the craft.


River Stour Navigation Guide – £3.50

The Environment Agency and River Stour Trust have produced a very good guide for paddlers about the Suffolk & Essex River Stour. A map of the entire navigable route printed on damp proof paper that folds down to size A5 and opens up to size A2. It includes details and locations of portages, launch sites, the riverside campsite, important information and contact details for relevant organisations.


Enjoying Safer Boating FREE download

A guide produced by the Environment Agency about staying safe on Anglian Waterways.

Report Incidents – 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone*, 24 hour service, *Calls from mobile phones are not free and will be charged at normal network operator’s call rates). More information on the types of incidents and where to report them – click here.

But where am I? It is most useful to try and provide precise location information and we recommend the what3words app. It can pinpoint a 3m x 3m square anywhere in the world and provide a 3 word address to share the location! The EA use this system too – find out more!

We support the Check-Clean-Dry initiative:

  • Check your equipment and clothing for living organisms; leave behind any you find.
  • Clean and wash your equipment, footwear and clothes.
  • Dry all equipment.

Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease)

It is important that all river users are familiar with the symptoms of this infection, which are similar to those of influenza (temperature, muscle aches and nausea). Leptospira bacteria is often carried by rats and excreted in their urine, which contaminates the waterways. Infection is more likely in slow-moving or stagnant water in areas where agriculture and rodents mix but exposure can be heightened through some activities e.g. angling where minor cuts and nicks are common; or swimming where some water will almost inevitably enter the mouth.


  • Be aware that activities that can cause open wounds or that take place near the water’s edge where rat urine is more likely to be found increase the risk of contracting the disease.
  • Do not swallow river water
  • Avoid capsize drill or rolling in stagnant or slow-moving water
  • Wash your hands before eating
  • Cover minor scratches, cuts and abrasions on exposed parts of the body with waterproof plasters
  • Where possible, wash or shower after taking part in water sports and riverside activities
  • Consult your doctor if you feel ill after coming into contact with water anywhere near or in the river.