This section deals with the River Medway from Rochester Bridge as far as Allington Lock.
Due to height restrictions underneath Rochester Bridge it is only suitable for motor cruisers and small sailing craft that can lower their masts.
There are however many useful facilites for the boater in this area, including four marinas.
The scenery ranges from beautiful countryside to run down grotty industrial areas, but the intrepid Mariner who makes it is far as Allington can pass via the lock into the non tidal Medway and get as far as Maidstone.
Once you arrive at Rochester Bridge you will find it has an air draft of 5.4 m at high water springs, with obviously a bit more available at lower states of the tide...... the problem being at lower states of the tide there is very little water under your keel as the River shallows dramatically once past the bridge.
The motorway bridge carrying the M2 has over 16 m of clearance with another footbridge near Hakwoodstone having 10.7 m. The problems comes in the Aylesford area where two separate bridges cross the river with less than 2.8 m clearance at high water. At low water there is little more than a gutway in this area.
The lock at Allington is owned by the environment agency and works a couple of hours either side of high water, but only during the working day. It can take quite large vessels being over 53 m long and over 6 m wide, while the maximum draught for vessels attempting to get to Maidstone is 2 m. Consequently if you own a shallow draught barge like vessel with low air draft you could make this trip.
After passing under Rochester Bridge you will find small craft moorings on either side of the river.
Those on your port side belong to Rochester Cruising Club, while those starboard side belong to Pelican YC and Strood YC.
The visiting motorboater will be spoilt for choice with the Beacon Boatyard, Medway Bridge Marina, Port Medway Marina, Cuxton Marina and Elmhaven Marina all coming up one after another. These are covered now including prices:
Following the river around past Wickham Point on the starboard side and approaching the motorway bridge you will come to the facilities of Beacon Boatyard, a long established yard on your port hand side just before Medway Bridge Marina. They offer half tide moorings and a whole range of marine services, being popular for secure winter laying up afloat. Toilet and shower facilities are available for visitors. If you want to leave your boat for a few weeks they can normally fit you in somewhere but they don't normally take overnight or short stop visitors Phone: 01634 841320, link to website below:
Medway Bridge Marina.
This lies on your port hand, just past Beacon Boatyard and consists of a long pontoon jutting out into the deep water of the River. Casual visitors, are asked to phone in advance before arriving. Visitors rates (2021) are £2.95 per metre per night with no additional charge for shore power hook up. They can be contacted on 01634 843576, and a link to their website is provided below:
Facilities here include electricity and water, diesel, petrol and gas (Calor & Camping) There is no longer a chandlery but Marine engineering services are available for many popular makes of engine. Toilets and showers available ashore, and WiFi Internet available.
The Marina provides berths with all tide access, half tide access, and more economical mud berths where many larger barge like vessels lay up.
There is also a cafe and a bed-and-breakfast that are based in a ship moored here. It is worth noting this is the last source of fuel before Allington. Day-to-day provisions can be obtained in the nearby village of Borstal.
If pushing on under the motorway bridge at low water watch out for the shallow patches shown on the chart.
Very soon after the motorway bridge you will come to two more facilities on the starboard side with possibilities for moorings.
Port Medway Marina.
Consists again of a long pontoon jutting out into the River on your starboard side. To arrange a berth over here call 01634 720033. Overnight rates (2021) for a 10m boat work out at £20.00 per night, check their website below:
All the usual Marina facilities are available here with water and electricity (prepayment card), toilets and showers and launderette. They have the ability to lift around 80 tonnes and they also have a dry dock. Engineering and electrics can be sorted, check the directory.
The resident ship that was a restaurant/bar is no longer available and is being refurbished as a wedding venue (better stay clear if you haven't made SWMBO an honest woman yet!!)
Railway connections to Maidstone and Strood are on the doorstep, while day to day provisioning is easy to accomplish in the village of Cuxton.
Almost immediately after the long pontoon belonging to Port Medway Marina, you will come to a somewhat shorter pontoon belonging to Cuxton Marina, again on the starboard side. Both these marinas can be seen clearly in one of the photos in the gallery.
To find out about berthing into the Marina telephone 01634 721941, or link to their website below:
They charge (2021) £13.52 per night inclusive of VAT and shore power
They can offer water, electricity, toilets and showers. There is a slipway and a 12 tonne travel lift, with full repair facilities available on site.
Railway connections and village facilities for day-to-day shopping are the same as the above Marina.
Just above Cuxton there is a section of the River where waterskiing is allowed for local ski club members only... ie: not you !
Continuing onwards the River runs through open countryside and makes a bend to port and runs southwards at Cuxton Point. Shortly after this again on the starboard side comes the pontoon of Elmhaven Marina.
To find out about berthing at this Marina telephone 01634 240489, visitors can be accomodated by arrangement, at £10.50 per night for a 10m boat(2016). This marina has just changed hands, so there could be changes. Check their website below:
Some lifting facilities are available here, and supplies are available in the village of Halling a short hike away.
Once past Elmhaven there really isn't much in the way of stopping places until you reach Allington Lock. The River passes through scenery varying from defunct industrial wharves through to tree-lined pastoral stretches back to festering scrapyards and new housing developments.
Once past the Horseshoe Bend just past Snodland and after Hawkwood Stone on your port side it is wise to take notice of the following warning:
"Owing to the existence of piles and other obstructions, it is dangerous to navigate close to the riverbanks in the sections of the River Medway between Hawkwood Stone and Allington Lock. Mariners are advised to keep well clear of the river banks when navigating in this area."
Furthermore if planning to get to the lock the intrepid Mariner will have to juggle three things. First the tide underneath him.... there is the danger of going aground should you push on ahead of the tide too quickly. Secondly the clearance under the bridges at Aylesford (see the photo gallery), where there is only 2.8 m at at high water. Should you have a little more air draft than that you will have to arrive at these bridges before the tide tops. Thirdly, Allington Lock only operates during working hours three hours before high water and two hours after, so you will need to arrive there during these times. The authorities at Allington Lock can be contacted on telephone 01622 752864 or they have a website at
The lock is on the starboard side, with a weir to port and comes up fairly soon after passing under the low bridges at Aylesford. A glance at the photo gallery will show you that the River is very narrow here.
If you do pass through the lock half a mile further lays the first facility within the non tidal Medway. It is not intended to describe the passage to Maidstone in this article, but provided below are the details of Allington Marina.
This Marina can provide nontidal moorings with water and electricity is all berths. There are toilets and showers together Elsan disposal facilities. Fuel and gas (Calor & Camping) can be obtained and there is an on-site Chandlers too. Cranage, boat repairs and engineering can be handled, and management personnel are resident too. Telephone them on 01622 752057, a link to their website is provided below:
Prices (2021) are around £20 per night for a 10m boat here. You will also need a river licence at about £18.00 per day
And that about covers the small boat facilities in the area, and it's was updated in April 2021
The facilities available at the individual marinas have already been covered in the section above.
The River Medway in England flows for 70 miles (113 km) from Turners Hill, in West Sussex, through Tonbridge, Maidstone and the Medway Towns conurbation in Kent, to the River Thames at Sheerness, where it shares the latter's estuary. The Medway Navigation runs from the Leigh Barrier south of Tonbridge to Allington just north of Maidstone. It is 19 miles (31 km) in length. The Environment Agency is the navigation authority responsible for the navigation.
Until 1746 the river was impassable above Maidstone. To that point each village on the river had its wharf or wharves: at Halling, Snodland, New Hythe and Aylesford. Cargoes included corn, fodder, fruit, stone and timber.
In 1746 improvements to the channel meant that barges of 40 long tons (41 t) could reach East Farleigh, Yalding and even Tonbridge. The channel was further improved to Leigh in 1828. There are eleven locks on the river. The lowest, opened in 1792, is at Allington, and is the extent of tides. The others are East Farleigh, Teston, Hampstead Lane,Stoneham Old Lock (disused),Sluice Weir Lock,Oak Wier Lock East Lock, Porter's, Eldridge's and Town Lock in Tonbridge. The locks will take craft up to 80 feet (24 m) by 18 feet (5.5 m), and vessels with a draft of 4 feet (1.2 m) can navigate the river. The shallowest point is just below Sluice Weir Lock which is prone to silting after heavy rain.
The text on this HISTORY page is covered by the following licence
Likewise, the Marinas described above either have their own bar/restaurants or the only other facilities are in nearby villages, which may offer one or two pubs at the most......... not the most promising situation for an " up for it" crew looking for a wild night on the town. The area is probably ideal for families though, with no rollicking nautical stuff or seasickness to contend with....