Water Activities Centre

 Registered Charity No: 1025713

aala Essa logo

ESSA Water Activities Centre is... 

  • a charity

  • run by qualified volunteers

  • primarily for young people but can cater for adults too

  • able to provide taster sessions and courses

  • an RYA training centre and holds an AALA licence

  • a 22 acre lagoon in Nazeing, set in the Lee Valley Country Park

  • adjacent to the River Lea and has easy access for river sessions




The main building has a large teaching area, kitchen, changing rooms (with hot showers) and toilets. We also have a picnic and BBQ area overlooking the water and a small tuck shop.


We provide all the clothing and equipment; from buoyancy aids to boats. Wetsuits are available during the cooler months.

The courses and sessions that we run are tailored for youths from age 9, to adults of any age.


Many different courses are available, so check our courses page for current details. All the courses depend on numbers, but if there is a demand for any particular course, it can be arranged.


Opening times

We try to cater for your needs and open most days during the months of April to October, and at weekends from November to March.


During the winter ESSA is still active with land based courses and regular maintenance sessions. During this time, we also run courses such as Safety Boat, First Aid, Assistant Instructor, Dinghy Instructor and Crew Development days, in order to have more trained volunteers available to keep participants safe on the water.


Session times are:

Half day 10.00-12.30  or  1.30-4.00

Full day 10.00-4.00

After school sessions 4.00-5.30

Evening 2 hours between 6.00-8.30



ESSA has a youth volunteering scheme and also supports other youth volunteering awards, including the Duke of Edinburgh Award. When all helpers sign in and out at the centre, their hours are logged and at the end of the year they can be awarded a certificate in recognition of their voluntary work. ESSA has over 150 volunteers of all ages who donate their time.

If you would like to become a member of ESSA Crew and help out at the centre, fill in our Crew Registration form and send it back to us.



ESSA insists that a buoyancy aid must be worn near and on the water. Helmets must be worn by under 18s and adult beginners in sailing, kayaking, traditional rafting and wobble boarding.


Safety Boats and qualified drivers are on the water for all activities.


For the safety and comfort of all users, ESSA is a No Smoking and No Alcohol site. No dogs are allowed apart from guide dogs.

Full copies of our policies are available on request.