Environmental management – guidance

River Medway: bridges, locks and facilities for boaters

Bridge heights and profiles, locks and facilities for boaters on the River Medway.

Map of the Medway

Check where bridges, locks and facilities are on the River Medway navigation map: Allington to Tonbridge.

Launch and landing points for canoes, kayaks and small boats are shown from Tonbridge to Allington, near Maidstone.

The most suitable site for launching a large boat is Allington Lock which has parking and a 5 metre slipway.

The speed limit on the River Medway is 5 knots.

River Medway bridge heights

Information on River Medway bridge profiles for over 30 bridges from Allington to Tonbridge. Please note that only small craft can navigate beyond the Big Bridge at Tonbridge.

Make sure you have enough headroom and be aware that height can vary according to the river level and the arches of the bridge.

River Medway locks

Distances between locks on the River Medway and information on how to operate them.

It’s better to share a lock with another boat than close the gates on an approaching boat. You could waste up to 250,000 gallons of water.

There are 10 locks on the River Medway. You can operate them all yourself except for Allington Lock which marks the border between the tidal Medway and the non-tidal Medway.

Downstream of Allington Lock the River Medway is tidal. At times the river below the lock may be dry, please check tide times before you plan your river passage below the lock.

Name of lock Distance to next lock downstream (miles) Distance to next lock downstream (km) Estimated cruising time to next lock (minutes)
Town Lock 1.5 2.4 40
Eldridges Lock 1.0 1.6 30
Porters Lock 1.25 2 30
East Lock 0.75 1.2 30
Oak Weir Lock 1.25 2 30
Sluice Weir Lock 2.25 3.6 40
Hampstead Lock (Yalding Depot) 3 4.8 40
Teston Lock 2 3.2 40
East Farleigh Lock 4.5 7.2 60
Allington Lock end of the navigation - -

River Medway maximum drafts

The draft of a boat’s hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (or keel).

For the non-tidal River Medway (from Allington to Town Lock in Tonbridge), the draft of your boat must not be more than:

  • Allington Lock to Maidstone: maximum draft 2 metres
  • Maidstone to Yalding: maximum draft 1.7 metres
  • Yalding to Tonbridge: maximum draft 1.2 metres

Please contact the Environment Agency if you need more information.

River Medway facilities: Tonbridge to Allington

Information about marinas, locks and facilities on the River Medway; including shops, repairs and toilets.

Town Lock, Tonbridge

Free pump out (you will need a lifting bridge key to operate it).

Cannon Lane Bridge, Tonbridge

Free short term mooring is available (up to 48 hours). Timber mooring posts with mooring rings. Ship to shore plank required.

East Lock

Free short term mooring is available (up to 48 hours). One to three spots are available on the rear of the downstream landing stage.

Oak Weir Lock

Free short term mooring is available (up to 48 hours). One to three spots are available on the rear of the downstream landing stage.

Sluice Weir Lock

Free short term mooring is available (up to 48 hours). Timber mooring posts with mooring rings. Ship to shore plank required.

Stoneham Lock

Free of charge short term mooring is available (up to 48 hours) at 3 sites for approximately 10 boats. Timber mooring posts with mooring rings. Ship to shore plank required.

Yalding lifting bridge

On the River Medway at Yalding there is a lifting bridge over the river that you need to operate yourself to pass through.

To buy a key for the bridge please visit Allington Lock near Maidstone (open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday), or contact the Environment Agency. You can also buy a key from the Yalding navigation officer. The key costs £10.

If you need help operating the bridge, a navigation officer is on duty at Yalding every day 9am, midday and 3pm.

Short term mooring is available, on the left bank looking upstream. Timber linear moorings just upstream of the Anchor Pub, £5 per night (turn up and pay).

Adjacent to the lifting bridge: coin operated pump out, a charge applies for this facility.

Yalding canoe platform

There is a purpose-built canoe and kayak launching and landing platform next to the road. Free parking is available.

Hampstead Lock

You can launch a canoe, kayak or small boat from the slipway or the adjacent canoe platform. There is free but very limited parking available.

Call 01622 752864 and give 24 hours notice to launch and/or take your boat out of the water.

East Farleigh

This launch is suitable for open canoes. It’s not easy for kayaks. Walk 100 metres to the riverside via a kissing gate, using the road with no pavement. There is parking at the station.

Short term mooring is available, approximately 250m below the lock. There are 12 mooring posts which are free to use for up to 48 hours.

Allington Lock

Allington Lock, Castle Road, Allington, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 0LU

Operating times

Lock keepers are available to operate Allington Lock at the following times:

  • 1 March to 31 October: Three hours before high water and two hours after where those hours fall between 7am and sunset.
  • 1 November to end of February: Three hours before high water and two hours after where those hours fall between 8am and 4pm.

When the lock is not open for operating, you must give the navigation officer 24 hours notice by calling 01622 752864 or by email to allington.lock@environment-agency.gov.uk.

Facilities

  • chemical toilet disposal
  • boat pump out
  • refuse disposal
  • toilets
  • showers
  • limited electric hook up points
  • water
  • slipway and camping
  • coin operated pump out (a charge applies)

Permanent moorings are available at Allington Lock.

Short term mooring is available, subject to available space. Overnight mooring can be provided within the lock cut at Allington for £8 per night.

Please phone the lock keeper on 01622 752 864 to enquire about a mooring.

You can use the 5 metre slipway, which is suitable for most boats.

There is a large car park - a charge applies.

The Allington Lock toilet and shower block contain 2 combined toilet and shower rooms, one with disabled access. For those using the site, the toilets are free. There is a small charge for use of the showers.

There is chemical toilet disposal and a pump-out facility at the front of the building. There is no charge for the chemical toilet disposal, a charge applies to use the pump out..

Doors to the boaters’ refuse disposal are on the side of the building; electrical hook-up points are available on some of the overnight moorings.

River Medway rules of navigation

What you must do

  • register your boat
  • obey the general rules of navigation and any local byelaws
  • don’t damage banks and bankside vegetation, waterweed and gravel beds
  • avoid dragging equipment over rock slab and boulders
  • don’t disturb birds and other wildlife you find along the river; avoid areas used by wintering wildlife, nesting birds and spawning fish in the appropriate season
  • stop what you’re doing if you’re disturbing wildlife
  • don’t land on gravel shoals and islands between 1 April and 31 July
  • don’t trespass on private banks or moorings
  • never throw rubbish into the river or leave it on the banks
  • moor sensibly without causing obstruction
  • be as quiet as possible; have respect for other river users and avoid spoiling the enjoyment of others
  • be friendly and polite to local residents
  • follow the Countryside Code have regard for others’ property

Speed limit

There is a speed limit of 5 knots on the Medway navigation.

Fishing from a boat

You can’t fish from a powered boat on the River Medway, only a non-powered boat.

To fish from a boat you will need:

Don’t fish from a boat underneath power cables.

Email updates

The Environment Agency sends email updates on River Medway closures and restrictions, as well as a customer newsletter.

To subscribe to these, email allington.lock@environment-agency.gov.uk with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line and whether you would like to subscribe to closures and restrictions emails, newsletter emails, or both.