Canoe Camping

The Perfect Pairing

Love camping? Love canoeing and/or kayaking? We have the ideal solution to combine the love of camping with your favourite paddle sport.

The River Stour forms most of the county boundary between Suffolk to the north, and Essex to the south. It passes through Sudbury, Nayland, Stratford St Mary, Dedham and flows through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It becomes tidal just before Manningtree in Essex and joins the North Sea at Harwich.

River Stour Highlights Include:

Paddling through the landscapes that inspired some of the Nation’s most famous artists including Constable, Gainsborough, Munnings and Morris. You will literally paddle through some their most famous paintings.

Pass through historic sites and places of interest: At Wormigford, look out for the boulders which mark the route Boudica Queen of the Iceni crossed the river passing from Suffolk to Essex with her armies before dispatching the Romans in ADXXX. Smallbridge Hall, visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1561 and is said to have disliked her hosts so much that she stayed long enough to bankrupt them.

Witnessing wildlife, often visible only from the river with kingfisher, otter, reed warblers, marsh harriers being some of the more recent and rarer sightings.

We have unique access to a “nearly wild” riverside campsite at the halfway point of this beautiful river. We can therefore offer two unique opportunities for your exciting canoe camping adventure.​


Along this majestic stretch of around 26 miles there is much to celebrate; the scenery, the wildlife, the history, the many influences to some artistic masterpieces. To allow yourself the time to reflect on the many beauties that the River Stour has to offer, check out our two day/one night canoe camping adventure from Sudbury to Cattawade providing a 12-13 mile paddle each day. ​

Our Package includes

- One-way canoe hire for two people.

- One night camping at a 'nearly wild' campsite in Nayland.

- Transfers as per the schedule below.

- River Map to ensure you don't get lost!

Outline Schedule

Day 1: 0930 transfer from the campsite in Nayland to Sudbury for a 10:00 start. Expect to paddle for for around 6 hours and pass Henny, Bures and Wormingford before reaching your 'nearly wild' campsite at Nayland.

Day 2: Recommended start time no later than 10am. Expect 6 hours paddle time again. Pass through Nayland, Stratford St Mary, Dedham and Flatford before passing through RSPB Cattawade and meeting you at the end point for around 5pm and returning you to the campsite.


This is an amazing, family friendly, three day and two night canoe camping trip and takes you through the stunning mid-section of the River Stour from Bures to Nayland on day one and Nayland to Stratford St Mary on day two. Expect a gentle 3-4 hours paddle time as you cover around 6 miles each day.​

Outline Schedule

DAY 1:

12 noon or after: Arrive at the Secret Campsite, close to Nayland, pitch camp while the children run free in the among hay bales, enjoy a spot of fishing and settle in for your first night under canvas. Bring your own food and games or pre-order some farm reared steaks and burgers with food packs and outdoor games boxes available too.

DAY 2:

A scheduled transfer service will collect you at 10:00hrs to transport you the 20 mins from the campsite to the start of your first days paddling in the quiet village of Bures. You'll spend this first day paddling under willow trees, through open countryside and the landscapes that inspired artists including Turner, Gainsborough, Constable and Munnings and alongside Elizabethan Manors. Leisurely paddlers could bring a picnic. You'll find plenty of tranquil spaces to stop and enjoy it en-route. Speedier paddlers might like to push a little harder returning to the Campsite or The Anchor Inn, Nayland in time for lunch.

DAY 3:

Your second day paddling will prove equally tranquil and will take you through the sleepy villages of Nayland and Boxted with their chocolate box cottages and quintessentially English vibes into Stratford St Mary where we'll meet you for a scheduled 'pick up' at 15:00hrs and transport you back to the campsite.

For those who've worked up an appetite, plan your day to reach the 16th Century Swan at Stratford St Mary where a warm welcome and very good lunch awaits!


1) Add a pitched Bell Tent with camping kit: a complete set of camping kit including tent, sleeping matts, table, chairs, BBQ/firepit, cookware, crockery, plates: just remember your sleeping bags, food and personal effects.

2) Navigation Guide: This is a simple trip which stays on the river, there are no 'left or right' turns onto tributaries, all trips include a simple river map which, together with on river signage, will get you down the river without problem. We also offer the intricate Environment Agency Navigation Guide as an option for those seeking finer detail.

3) Additional nights at the campsite are available before and after your trip.

top tips


While the river is a navigation it is not managed as a canal, the good news is this means it's quiet and tranquil. The challenge is that it takes time to clear fallen trees and water levels can vary. Please treat your trip as an adventure and be ready to climb over or under a fallen tree or maybe even get your feet wet if obstacles present themselves​.


Dress for the weather and try to avoid heavy cottons like denim as these get cold when wet. ​


Take a bag of snacks or picnic goodies for your time on the water - yes there are pubs enroute but it's better to have something with you just in case their kitchen is closed or chefs away! At lunchtimes you'll pass The Eight Bells at Bures on day one and The Swan at Stratford St Mary on day two. Flatford Mill Tea Room is a good last stop for tea and cake on day two and is approximately 60 mins from the end of your journey. ​


We provide BBQs/firepits for cooking. You may wish to pack a simple gas cooker if boiling water quickly for morning coffee is a priority​!

About us

Stour Valley Adventure Centre operate both guided and self-guided (hire only) trips on the river Stour from our riverside storage at Sudbury (Suffolk). Canoe / Kayak / Paddle board trip options range from hourly 'have a go' and half day 'Paddle'n'Pub' to one-way and multi-day canoe camping adventures. Group Walks, Multi-family Camping, Wild Swimming and Cycle Hire are also available.

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