Darent Valley Part 1

On the ground mapping along the Darent River from M25 north, flowing to Dartford Barrier and out to the Thames.

Starting out between the M25 and under A2 – you pass the Darenth water treatment works
The River swollen with waters attempts to overflow the sodden fields, among sunny bullrushes
Old signs, Old Dangers, the waters will keep on rising
Now the river rushes busily by an old mill flue – the diverted waters making another island.
Where broken fragment of mill stone in the waters lies beside two other monster shards.
Reflections on the river as it turns through concrete, stilled, then rushing onwards.
Off the Darent pathway a bridge inviting Picnicers, tempts us on to…
a metal picnic bench, proofed against fires, where you hear and find another hidden mill, siphoning off river energy.
Turning back, the curve of the twin tunnel, under A225, you see the river leans and leaks toward you.
Here the river divides split through Central Park, one way blocked for works, the other for a Covid test centre
Jagger beech-lite, holds a spanner to the works, and rusts…
Skipping over obstacles, the waters funnel pass Old Trinity Church, high ground above the Darent.
On the worn stones, signs of water and weathering conceal the light airy interiors.
By the underpass, mysterious steps, an empty wall built against the river banks.
Canalised the river flows under the railway and through the new development old mill pond, where the pathway dissolves…
one way blocked by building works, another unsure, but there is dusty lichen on the signpost footing,
And there it is, the old dock and lock, its winding mechanism covered in a film of mud from retreating floodwaters.
On the Cray river side, new build flats reflecting in the flattened flow reach across to the marsh.
Passing an Asda depot, where fields of reeds sway in the late afternoon sun.
Under the A206, finally see out toward the Cray confluence and on to the tidal Thames.
On the dykes, built to hold the tidal rivers, looking down on the old Fireworks factory site
Reaching across and meandering in slow purple mud to the edge of the Thames as it widens toward its estuary.
Where the mud is rich, riven with tidal ripples and always moving, flowing with life…
and debris, frigid and immobile on the marsh grass, sits a glowing fridge.
Before the gates of the Dartford Barrier, with its heavy sluice towers guarding the landscape…
From flood and creek
We reach the Thames in ebb tide and marvel at the muddy unprotected foreshore teeming with gulls.