East Kent Coast: River Stour

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East Kent Coast River Stour.jpeg

This little tidal river flows out from Canterbury, via Sandwich to the sandflats of Pegwell Bay.Quiet, peaceful and sheltered, this is more of a "Wind in the Willows" experience than a white water one. There are no rocks anywhere, and currents barely reach 2 knots even atpeak.

Unlike the neighbouring sea coast at Pegwell Bay, there is no "tidal offset" to confuse thingshere. The river floods and ebbs predictably. HW at Sandwich is around Dover HW+1 and Grove Ferry is at Dover HW+2.

The "top" end around Fordwich is particularly nice as it passes along the Stodmarsh nature reserve, and has large wetland areas either side of the waterway. It's rare to seeany vessel larger than a kayak upstream of the Grove Ferry bridge because of its limited headroom. Downstream of the bridge there are a few river cruisers, but typically only in Summer.

You can paddle this river in either direction, but it's best done with tide support, and with an eye on the tides at Sandwich, where access at LW is a very muddy experience. Typical "A to B" trips are between Grove Ferry, Sandwich and/or Ramsgate West via the Pegwell Bay crossing.

0k map Fordwich
Lovely old village through which the river passes, but with restricted access and difficult parking. 24hr access possible just West of the road/river crossing in the village centre (temporary parking and climb down the slopey bank). There is also a local sailing outfit on the North side of the river just East of this bridge, with some access. Paddling upstream of here is made difficult by a combination of private land ownership, and sluices across the river paths - a shame, as we are barely 5K from Canterbury Town Centre. Generally better to enter the river at Grove Ferry...
24hr (+-) access over the banks of the public car park / picnic site, adjoining Stodmarsh bird reserve and the popular Grove Ferry Inn. Best access point in the area ! There is no slipway, but tidal movement is quite limited this far upstream so it's always possible to get in and out.
11k map Sarre Level CrossingCurious arrangement where the river passes close by a private house and driveway just 300m off the A253, but with a railway level crossing sandwiched in between. Access possible over the banks here, but not easy to park anywhere. And of course you have to portage over the railway line !
13k map

Plucks Gutter Good name, isn't it ? Basically just a pub and a few houses where a road crosses the river. 24hr access apparently possible via rowing club slipway on North side, East of the bridge, but parking difficult, except in the pub. Busy in Summer.

17k map Minster Marshes HW+- access to North Bank, with a small, gravel parking lot belonging to Fishing club. Civilisation is 1300m along track and over the railway line to Minster Village (shops, pubs, better parking)
21k map (Stonar Cut West)
No access! Worthy of mention only because 10K downstream from here you will pass within 200m of this place, thanks to the huge loop section through Sandwich Town. A large sluice separates the two. This is rather like those holes in the wall at Ikea where you can see into the future (but in this case you can't pass through!)
HW +- 2h, or get very muddy! Parking on quayside, restaurants, lovely town.(HW here is 1h after Dover, so access is really Dover HW-1 to Dover HW+3, perhaps more..)
31k map (Stonar Cut East)
No access! See Stonar Cut West !
33k map Shell Ness Beach
24hr. Nice sandy spit by the river entrance to stop on. This is a beautifully private spot with a nice beach stroll from here South along Sandwich flats. It's seclusion is because the river cuts off all land access to the North, while the nearest road access (a twisty golf course track, with potentially a road toll to be paid) is several kilometers to the South.
If you're heading across the bay to Ramsgate, then it's normally OK to head for the cliffs at around 045 degrees (the other way, it's the cooling towers at 225 degrees!). However, bear it mind it can be very choppy here in Easterly conditions, and that with some 2k of drying mud to cross, you could get caught. On a falling tide, you may prefer to follow the yacht track and run 090 for 1K, then 045. There is a way out by the Viking Ship in the top corner of the bay, but HW only.