The River Beult Sub-catchment
The River Beult is a tributary of the River Medway, flowing north-west from its sources near Ashford in the south east and Cranbrook in the south, towards Yalding where it joins the Rivers Teise and Medway. It covers 296.5 km2 of the Kent countryside.
There are nine Water Framework Directive (WFD) waterbodies that make up the River Beult catchment. Its main tributaries are the Hammer and Ulcombe Streams, Upper Beult and Sherway. All nine waterbodies are at moderate status or below. Despite this, the lower catchment is a designated SSSI, due to its characteristic clay-river flora and fauna, notably emergent and floating plants. In common with other Medway sub-catchments, it flows through a landscape underlain by Wealden Clay and is dominated by mixed agricultural land-use – including areas of both pasture and arable cultivation. As a consequence, the river has become enriched with nutrients and pollutants associated with agricultural runoff, as well as other sources like as road runoff and sewage effluent.
The main settlements in the catchment are Cranbrook, Headcorn and Staplehurst. Historic sites include Sissinghurst Castle near Cranbrook, famous for its gardens designed by the writer Vita Sackville West and her husband, Harold Nicolson.