The River Medway Navigation from Yalding to Allington offers a relaxing cruise through the beautiful Kentish countryside. There are several marinas along the river, and a few pubs which you can moor outside for free. There are also lots well cared for free 48hr mooring points along the navigation. When sticking to the speed limit (5 knots) it should take you approx 4 -5 hours to amble along if the locks are in your favour.
The Malta Inn at Allington is a great place to moor and over-night, it marks the end of the freshwater stretch of the River Medway and is right next to Allington Lock. Allington Lock is manned, and you will need to make sure you time your tides right if you want to go through and venture further downstream as you will only be able to go pass through the lock at high tide (or a couple of hours either side).
The River Medway flows right through the centre of Maidstone and there is a large stretch of free 48hr mooring right in the centre. From here you can easily walk to lots of shops, bars and restaurants, as well as Maidstone market which is open on Saturday and Tuesday mornings.
The locks at Hampstead, Teston and Farleigh are all manually operated (so you will need a lock key. Just past Hampstead lock, there is a electronic lifting bridge which you will also need a key for (this can be purchased at Allington Lock or from the EA). The locks can all take boats up to 24.5m in length.
There are several bridges along the River Medway navigation between Yalding and Allngton, and you can find out more about bridge heights and drafts here.
The river itself is generally very quiet. There are a lot of motor cruisers moored along the navigation, but a lot of owners seldom venture out in their boats. Naturally the Summer is slightly busier, but it is still quiet in comparison to other inland waterways. Do be careful though of rowers and kayakers, these are often out in force on Saturday and Sunday mornings, with several rowing and kayaking clubs dotted along the Medway (especially in and round Maidstone), they tend to be out in large numbers (and often with young children), so be careful on corners and stick to the speed limit.
The speed limit is 5 knots, and this should be observed at all times (if you’re not sure how fast 5 knots is, the general rule is that if your wash is breaking then you’re going too fast). There is a River Medway boaters facebook group and if you’re spotted going too fast, then you can expect to be named and shamed and even reported by the Medway boating community!
The navigation is generally very rural (with the exception of Maidstone) with beautiful farmland and countryside along the river. You can expect to see plenty of Swans and birdlife as well as pigs, sheep, cows and horses. There are lots of fish in the Medway, but where there’s fish, there’s always fishermen (usually hiding behind trees or in bushes), so be careful of fouling your prop on their lines.