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River Stour – Kent

There is a right of navigation on the River Stour to Canterbury. However, it is presently navigable only from the sea at Pegwell Bay to Fordwich.

Things to do nearby

Facts & stats


The date of the first Act of Parliament promoting navigation on the river.  There was also a subsequent Act in 1825.


(31 km)

The navigable length of river from Fordwich to Pegwell Bay.


or Stower

Both forms of pronunciation are used in Kent.

From Pegwell Bay to Fordwich

The River Stour is the second longest river in Kent.  It originates as the Great Stour in Lenham and flows towards and through Canterbury and then on towards the sea at Pegwell Bay.  There is a Right of Navigation on the river from Canterbury to the sea.  After two weirs above Fordwich, the river becomes tidal.

Waterway notes

Navigation authority

Sandwich Port and Haven Commissioners (set up under a 1925 Act of Parliament) are navigation authority from the sea to North Poulders Sluice, about three quarters of a mile above Sandwich.  Above North Poulders Sluice, there is no navigation authority, but the river is effectively controlled by the Environment Agency.

Useful Info

Grove Ferry Bridge is fixed with 1.6m headroom. Downstream of this the headroom is 3.5m. It is tidal throughout, though the tides are much attenuated in the upper reaches.  Two flash locks (now gone) formerly extended the navigation to Canterbury.  There are now weirs a short distance above Fordwich Bridge – remnants of old mills.  It may be possible to canoe from Canterbury to Fordwich, but there is no official access or portage over the weirs.

There is a swing bridge at Sandwich, operated by Sandwich Port and Haven Commissioners – tel 01843 585624 (VHF Ch 8).

There is lots more useful information on the lower section of the river around Sandwich at

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

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