River Dour

A little chalk stream that rises in a rural setting but then flows through the highly urban centre of Dover.

About the river

The River Dour – part of the Stour – is one of Kent’s chalk streams, rising in Watersend in Temple Ewell. Flowing four miles through the villages of Kearsney, River and Buckland, the Dour joins the English Channel at Wellington Dock in Dover Harbour to finish its journey.

The Dour used to form a wide estuary where Dover is now and was used by the town as a natural harbour. Silting in this estuary led to artificial harbours being created and the Dour is now directed to the harbour through a culvert.

The South East Rivers Trust is part of the Catchment Partnership which manages plans for the river network.

What makes it special?

Life in the Dour flourishes from the naturally filtered water through the chalk beds of the Downs. The water temperature and quality are hugely important in providing the perfect habitat for a significant population of brown trout. The rare European eel has been known to travel along the short river, with eel passes allowing them to move over weirs that were previously a barrier. Kingfishers may be seen hunting for fish or aquatic insects on the banks of the river. Other life that can be seen include water rail, heron, egrets and bullhead fish.

For such a short river, the Dour is an important part of the area’s history. The river has been used since AD 762 to power watermills including eight corn mills and five paper mills. It also passes through Kearsney Abbey which dates back to the Norman Conquest.


  • fisheries
  • habitat
  • drought
  • pollution