Royal Military Canal - Boating
Boating Picture 1

Boat hire in Hythe

Boating Picture 2

Canoeing the canal at Seabrook

Boating Picture 3

Artist: John Cann



Cycling

Boats and the Canal

The Royal Military Canal was never intended for navigation, being primarily a defensive structure. However, in a bid to raise much needed money from the enterprise the canal was opened for public use and tolls were charged. The canal was mainly used by barges carrying shingle and other cargoes, although there was a regular passenger service which ran from Hythe to Rye. The canal remained steadily busy until the Ashford to Hastings railway was opened in 1851 - this took away most of the traffic. Barges continued to use the canal sporadically until the last toll-paying barge travelled through Iden Lock in December 1909.

Pleasure Boating

From very early on in the canal’s history, the officers stationed at Hythe used the canal for sculling and for taking their families for a row on Sundays. Once the threat of invasion had passed, local inhabitants were permitted to row on the canal. The desire to take boats on the canal has never abated with a particular peak in the 1880s when the ornamental gardens along the canal in Hythe had matured.

Today, you can hire boats to row along the canal as far as West Hythe Dam from near Ladies’ Walk Bridge in Hythe.

Taking boats on the canal

It is possible to take non-powered vessels on the Royal Military Canal from Seabrook to Iden Lock. The River Rother, which is part of the canal complex, has a public right of navigation. Unfortunately it is not possible to go all the way from Seabrook to Iden Lock unhindered: boats cannot be taken through West Hythe Dam or Iden Lock, and the size of the boat will be restricted by the height of the bridges. Licenses need to be obtained to take a boat on the canal.

To obtain a license for the Royal Military Canal between Seabrook and West Hythe Dam or for more information on rowing this section click here

To obtain a license for the Royal Military Canal between West Hythe Dam and Iden Lock or for more information on rowing this section click here

For more information on taking a boat on the River Rother and mooring fees click here