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Dartford & Crayford Navigation

The Creek is entered from the Thames by passing under the Dartford Creek Tidal Flood Barrier. About a mile upstream is the confluence of the rivers Darent and Cray.

Things to do nearby

Dartford and Crayford Creek and the River Darent

Dartford and Crayford Creek

The Creek is tidal throughout and has sufficient depth for navigation only at mid to high tide. The Creek is entered from the Thames by passing under the Dartford Creek Tidal Flood Barrier. About a mile upstream is the confluence of the rivers Darent and Cray.

River Darent

A (now derelict) lock on the River Darent Branch formerly gave access to Welcome Mill near Dartford Station and to Dartford Wharfage. The maximum size of boat is constrained in height by ‘University Way Bridge’. Boats with high headroom requirements should pass the bridge at the middle of a rising tide then wait until there is sufficient depth to proceed upstream to the Lock. There is a winding hole below the lock, much constrained by reeds at anything other than a high tide.

River Cray

The River Cray Branch gives access to a basin at Vitbe Mill. It had been blocked by fallen trees for many years, and was cleared by IWA Kent and East Sussex Branch along with Essex WRG and Thames21 but reverted to unnavigable. However, it has recently been thoroughly cleared by Network Rail contractors after pressure from the Dartford and Crayford Creek Trust and is now fully navigable. At High Springs boats can enter Vitbe Basin which is large and clear but (though there is a right of navigation) there is no right to land. Lighters used to safely ‘bottom’ in the basin, which had a hard floor, at low tide.

A Facebook group “Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek, aka Steam Crane Wharf” encourages visiting boaters and riverside improvements. They have renovated a slipway alongside the pedestrian lift bridge to enable portable boats to be launched. The Dartford and Crayford Creek Trust was founded in April 2016 to work to improve the navigation.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

Passing through the lock is constrained to

  • Beam: 23′ 0″ (7 metres).

The maximum size of boat on the Darenth is limited by the size of the lock (23ft by 150ft) and on the Cray by the North Kent Railway bridge.

Navigation authority

Environment Agency and Port of London Authority

Useful info

At high springs boats can pass over the lock top cill to a (now fixed) pedestrian lift bridge 400m upstream (no winding). Immediately upstream of the lock there is, at time of writing, a scoured deep pool sufficient for one narrow boat to moor afloat at low tide (but there is no guarantee it will remain).

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.