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River trips to try in Kent from Canterbury to Tonbridge and Sandwich to Maidstone

By Angela Cole

See the county from a unique vantage point – on the water. We’ve found eight of the best days out across the county.


Launched in April 2015, Tonbridge River Trips take you away from the hustle and bustle without leaving the town centre. There are rowing boats available and an electric powered boat, which seats up to 12, for a sedate river cruise.

You can catch them from the Big Bridge in the High Street. Trips run hourly from Wednesday to Sunday, plus bank holidays, until mid-July and then daily in the summer holidays. This month, two wildlife tours are also available – an evening bat trip on Tuesday, May 17, and a dawn chorus adventure on Saturday, May 21.

For details and prices, visit tonbridgerivertrips.co.uk or call 07808 739020.

Canterbury Historic River Tours
Canterbury Historic River Tours


Sandwich River Boat Tours run every day during the school holidays and most summer weekends. Trips range from a 30-minute mini cruise to two-hour excursion heading out to the Thames estuary, They also operate on selected Thursdays and Fridays.

You can choose a trip around Sandwich, or a tour along the River Stour to the English Heritage owned Roman fort at Richborough, which includes an optional stopover. In the summer months there’s also a good chance of spotting seals on some of the trips.

For details go to sandwichriverbus.co.uk or whitecliffscountry.org.uk


Looking for something a little less sedate? Medway-based Jet Stream Tours can whizz you on a picturesque trip along the River Medway all at breakneck speed. The one-and-a-half hour high-speed jet boat tour has commentary and will take you past many of Medway’s historic sights including Chatham’s Historic Dockyard, Upnor Castle and Cookham Wood Fort.

For details go to jetstreamtours.com

The Kentish Lady takes tours along the River Medway at Maidstone
The Kentish Lady takes tours along the River Medway at Maidstone


It’s easy to visit Maidstone and not venture down to the River Medway. But it’s well worth the effort as the riverbank is home to many of the town’s best, and most peaceful walks.

Another way to explore is on the Kentish Lady. The 100-seater passenger boat has been meandering up and down the river from Archbishops Palace for more than a decade. With commentary on the area and history, one-hour cruises are on weekends and school holidays and there are also three-hour cruises available. The boat has toilets, heating and a bar.

For details head to kentishlady.co.uk


Boating and punting has been a favourite pastime on the River Stour in Canterbury for many years and it’s the perfect way to learn about the city’s historic past.

As one of the Canterbury’s main tourist attractions, the guided tour gives both visitors and locals a view of the area’s important architecture as it plots a path through the heart of the city. There really is history everywhere – even the company staging the tours can trace its own back to 1932. Tours last about 40 minutes and leave from King’s Bridge in the High Street. They run daily roughly every 20 minutes until Monday, October 31.

For details visit canterburyrivertours.co.uk

The Grove Ferry pub
The Grove Ferry pub


Be whisked away to the north Kent creeks or set off on a gentle meander along the River Medway with trips from Chatham Maritime Marina or Chatham’s Sun Pier. There are a range of excursions, including seal spotting trips and wind farm outings even going as far afield as Essex. The company is based at the Lock Office in Leviathan Way.

Visit swanningabout.co.uk


What better place for a boat to be moored than next to a pub?
The Ellen Mary is tied up at the Grove Pantry Pub and Inn, in Upstreet, near Canterbury, and runs trips to take in the scenery and wildlife along the River Stour. The 12-seater is so quiet that passengers get plenty of close encounters with the animals and birds along the route. Grove Ferry River trips are run by a separate company to the pub, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy both on your day out. Trips are from Wednesday to Sunday, plus bank holidays, until Saturday, July 23. They then run every day through the summer holidays.

For details go to groveferryrivertrips.co.uk

Sailor Lewis Keen at Bewl Water, Lamberhurst
Sailor Lewis Keen at Bewl Water, Lamberhurst


Aimed at getting people to have a go, the Royal Yachting Association’s Push the Boat Out sailing festival runs until Sunday, May 22. From dinghy sailing to windsurfing and powerboat rides, there’s plenty on offer and most events are free.

For details visit rya.org.uk

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