The Darent Valley’s coastal and fresh marsh is found just north of Dartford just before the River Darent flows into the Thames. Dartford and Crayford Marshes sit either side of the River Darent and mark the boundary between Kent and the London Borough of Bexley. The area of freshwater marshes is tucked between the river and Temple Hill, just south of the coastal marsh area.
The marshes have a sense of dereliction and of being a forgotten landscape, but the area is an oasis of space and quiet where it is possible to experience a sense of isolation. This is the last remaining extensive area of open marsh that exists between London and Gravesend and as such is of great ecological and landscape importance.
Dartford Fresh Marshes has outstanding populations of water beetle. Good water quality, recent grazing management and an absence of invasive non-native species help these populations to thrive. The wider marshes are of variable quality but still support important species such as water vole, grasshopper warbler, marsh harrier and nightingale. In addition, the divided sedge, annual beard-grass and dittander – plant species from the Kent Rare and Scarce Species Inventory have all been found on the site over the last few years.