The River Darent is a chalk stream and the defining feature in the Darent Valley landscape. It has played a fundamental role in attracting the original settlement by humans thousands of years ago. The river created fertile land for farming, provided transport into London and generated power to work the many mills along its length. It has also shaped the land by carving through the chalk on its way from its source in Westerham to where it flows into the River Thames north of Dartford. It is the river and the valley sides that clearly define the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme area.

Until the late 1800s the Darent was considered one of the finest trout chalk rivers in the country. It was well-known for its bountiful supply of fish and popular amongst fly fishermen through the centuries. However the fortunes of the river have changed over time. Abstraction to meet the water supply of a growing London population meant that during natural periods of drought between 1976 and 1991, parts of the river dried up completely. Since then, and following the launch of the Darent Action Plan by the National Rivers Authority in 1992, the river has greatly recovered.

Rare wildlife such as otter and water vole are now present on the river and aquatic plants such as water crowfoot are well established.

River with overhanging trees
© Copyright
Footpath next to River Darent
Water with reedbeds each side
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Cattle eating grass next to river
© Copyright Adam Swaine photography

Co-financed by the European Union and the European Regional Development Fund