In 2020 a new canoe launch was installed at Grove Ferry Picnic Site, funded by a LEADER grant to give canoeists safer access to the River Stour. From here you can paddle upriver to Fordwich, a small and scenic town on the river, or downriver to Plucks Gutter, a hamlet marking the place where the Little Stour and Great Stour rivers meet.
You can bring your own canoe, or kayak, or hire one from Canoe Wild, which has locations at Grove Ferry Picnic Site and Fordwich. If you follow the trail from one location to the other, they can provide lifts between the two sites (free to canoe hire customers) for you to return to your start point.
As you paddle along the river you will spot a variety of plants and animals, from dragonflies to kingfishers, perhaps even the rare sighting of a water vole or otter. Nearby Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve is home to even more rare wildlife; in particular, birds such as the marsh harrier, bittern and great crested grebe can be seen here. A walking route along the river takes you through the Nature Reserve.
Download a PDF map of the trail and a wildlife spotter’s guide, or you can also pick up a sustainable cloth map of the trail from Canoe Wild’s hire locations.
Know Your Limits
Ensure that you have the correct levels of experience and knowledge for this self-guided river trail. Keep right to avoid drifting off the trail into adjacent pools.
Equip yourself responsibly with the boat, paddle, bailer/sponge, buoyancy aid, first aid kit, penknife, mobile phone, drinking water, waterproof jacket and weather-appropriate gear. Check the weather forecast and tides and currents before your journey.
Do Not Disturb Wildlife
Never approach wildlife head-on, or so close that you disturb its natural behaviour. Stay quiet and only ever approach from an angle while keeping your distance.
Respect Others and the Environment
Show consideration for other people using the river and always pass fisherman quietly. Do not litter in and around the river or drag boats on banks or over rocks.
For more detailed safety guidance visit British Canoeing.