This blog post is written for teachers considering using the River Darent to collect primary fieldwork data on rivers. The Darent is possibly one of the most measured rivers in Kent owing to its proximity to south-east London ease of access and safety. It rises close to Westerham, flows East to Sevenoaks and then North via the beautiful Darent Valley, finally meeting the River Thames at Dartford. The River runs parallel to the M25 from Junction 6 anticlockwise to Junction 1a making it highly accessible for school parties. Using the A25 and the A225 it is easy to stop off at various sites. Lullingstone Country Park lies halfway along the river’s course and is a handy toilet stop.
I will now describe the sites we use for fieldwork and explain why they are useful. For more information please do get in touch via Twitter!
Site 1 – Westerham
Westerham is a picturesque village in West Kent 1 mile north of the source. Site 1 lies to the south-west of the village and lies along the Greensand Way long distance footpath. It is the closest point the public access to the source which is 1 miles upstream in the Greensand hills. At this point the Darent is a small stream flowing through a gentle V-shaped valley.
Access: 5 minutes’ walk from the drop off point. Coach drops you off on the A25 Westbound at the bus stop near Mill Lane. Coach waits 1 mile to the West in a large pub. Call the driver when you are finished and get the coach to meet you on the opposite side of the road facing Westerham.
Site 2 – Lullingstone
|Site 2 - Lullingtone|
Site 3 – Eynsford
|Site 3 - Eynsford|
Access: Heading North on Station Road A225 pull over into the bus stop on the left immediately before the Riverside turn. Walk the students over the bridge and you will easily get to the river.
Site 4 – Franks Lane, Horton Kirby
|Site 4 - Franks Lane|
Site 5 – The Mouth
The mouth is a highly contrasting location. By this point the Darent is a tidal creek of the River Thames and flows across a coastal flood plain. For safety reasons it is too dangerous to measure the river here but is a great site to see how the river features change. The Dartford Creek flood barrier provides an impressive example of hard engineering designed to protect Dartford and Crayford.
Access: Via Northend Road A206 in Erith. Turn along Manor Road and park by Alsford Timber at the Darent Industrial Estate. Walk along the byway up to the levee and then walk along the London Loop footpath past the flood barrier to the mouth. It’s a 15 minute walk from the coach.