is a delightful spot on The Swale
about 1 mile north east of Faversham, which will suit walkers, boaters and bird watchers alike.
Harty Ferry is so named after the the ferry service which used to cross the Swale from the mainland to the Isle of Harty, the south east part of the Isle of Sheppey, until 1946.
Even if you’re not a boat-owner or bird-watcher Harty Ferry is one of the most magical places in Kent.
Unforgettable is the sight of sailing barges, with their ochre-washed sails, massed for the annual Swale Barge Race.
Equally so also are the views of The Swale, and the Isle of Harty opposite, when the only vessels to be seen are perhaps a fishing-boat and motor cruiser.
The light seems ever-changing; and in this remote spot you may have the company only of the birds for which it is such an important site.
Not that it hasn’t seen its fair share of history. Harty is in the hundred of Faversham, not Milton, like the rest of Sheppey, and this is a clue to its past.
Harty Ferry is on the Saxon Shore Way, the long distance footpath that follows the Kent coastline for 140 miles from Gravesend to Rye.
From Harty Ferry you can walk westwards, with the Swale on one side and the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve on the other, to the entrance of Conyer Creek. The footpath can be followed alongside the creek into the village of Conyer.
Eastwards along the footpath will take you to the entrance to Faversham Creek, then onto the confluence of Faversham and Oare Creeks and then onto the village of Oare. The footpath then continues into Faversham.
Harty Ferry, at the west end of the Swale and just off the Thames estuary, is a convenient stop-over for yachts and motor cruisers. It offers a sheltered anchorage in all but a strong north east wind; boats can either anchor in the soft mud or pick up one of the boatyard buoys.
There is also a slip from which small boats can be launched from a trailer.
Landing by tender is possible on both shores at all but the lowest of tides; on the north shore it is but a short walk to the Ferry House Inn, whilst on the south shore fresh water is available from an artesian well just landward of the hard. A walk of about a mile, will take you into the village of Oare and one of two pubs.
If you visit Harty Ferry by boat, then you can obtain further information from the harbour guides for Faversham Creek and Oare Creek.
Harty Ferry is the home of the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, part of the Swale Site of Special Scientific Interest. The reserve, managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust, consists of some 170 acres of grazing marsh, dissected by fresh and brackish water dykes and bounded by an earth seawall and some salt marsh.
There is a Visitor Centre , open weekends and BHs from 11am to 5pm, or dusk if earlier, with a viewing platform in the roof overlooking the Swale.
At present the reserve is richest in bird species in spring and autumn when a variety of waders and wildfowl use the marsh. These include teal, gadwell, shoveler, greenshank, black-tailed godwit and various sandpipers.
You can find Harty Ferry by going to Oare, west of Faversham, and then taking the road north down to the Swale, sign posted Harty Ferry. There is a small car park.
Faversham is only 3 minutes from junction 6 of the M2; there is a mainline station with frequent trains from London, Rochester, Canterbury and the Kent coast.