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Thames and Medway Canal

Accessible for portable and trailable craft

Silver Propeller Challenge


Gravesend, Kent

Little more than a stone’s throw from London, the Thames and Medway Canal sees few waterways visitors other than local paddle-sports enthusiasts, ducks and enthusiastic volunteers from the Thames and Medway Canal Association who turn out on regular work parties to keep the waterway clean and accessible – so why not pay them a visit?

This is a new Silver Propellor location for 2023.

A photo of your boat, canoe or paddleboard anywhere on the Canal would be good proof of your visit, but please try to venture as far east towards Higham Tunnel as you can get.

About the Thames and Medway Canal

The Thames and Medway Canal was promoted when England was at war with France, to cut the journey time between the Woolwich and Chatham dockyards.  This would have been a much safer route than out into the estuary, as Britain was then at war with France.  The canal was wider than many others (dimensions 80 foot x 19 foot, with a draught of 4 foot), being suitable for Thames Barges.  The Strood to Higham Tunnel was the largest on the network and the second longest before a midway passing place was cut.

The Canal was purchased by the Gravesend and Rochester Railway and Canal Company in 1845, who converted the portion of the canal running through the tunnel for their railway.  A year later this company was absorbed into the South Eastern Railway Company.  The Canal remained in use from Gravesend to Higham, with two locks up from the Thames, but no longer a through route to Rochester and the River Medway, the canal was little used and operations ceased entirely in the 1930s.

In 1975, IWA decided that the Canal and Gravesend Basin should become part of the waterway network and benefit from the waterway restoration effort that was enveloping the country in the 1970s.  So, in September of that year a Rally of Boats was organised.  As a result of the interest engendered, the Thames and Medway Canal Association was founded in February 1976, which has sought to preserve and improve the canal as amenity for local users.

[The photo shows canoeists on the Thames and Medway Canal  –  by Angela Acott]


Notes for visitors


Postcode: DA12 2HR

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Boat Dimensions

The waterway is landlocked and therefor only available to small craft.  The Canal can be accessed from Mark Lane, Gravesend, where there is a slipway and landing stage.  Canoes, rowing boats and paddle boards can be used as there is around 1km of open water, which is close to the SSSI area of Shorne Marshes.


Canoeing, Trip Boats and Hire Boats

Canoeing is encouraged on the Thames and Medway Canal – there are no licence requirements.

There are no trip boats or boats for hire on the Canal.

Also see…

The towpath is used by cyclists and walkers and is part of Sustrans route no.1. The towpath is close to the Saxon Shore Way and gives pedestrian access from Gravesend through to Higham station and the tunnel entrance.  The Thames and Medway Canal Association has been working for over 45 years to maintain a green corridor providing bins, benches and information boards at intervals along the canal, which the Association maintains.  Members have also compiled circular walk leaflets for the area including the river Thames.

Challenge Location

Mark Lane, Gravesend

Thames and Medway Canal

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