A Little history about the canal
A View of Broad Oak Bridge
The Basingstoke Canal started its life as a navigation canal for coal carrying barges way back in 1794. The canal meandered its way through 32 miles of picturesque countryside between the Wey Navigation Canal at Byfleet and a large turning basin at Basingstoke on which now stands part of Basingstoke's new town centre. The canal has 29 locks, only one of which is in Hampshire, and a 1,230 yard tunnel through Greywell Hill. The canal's decline in the early 1900's saw much of the canal become silted up and not navigational, the last barge to tie up at the Basingstoke Wharf was in 1910.
Broad Oak Towards Colt Bridge
The canal nowadays is a hive of activity especially at weekends; walkers, anglers, cyclists and boaters abound. Boatyards are flourishing at Odiham and Ash where hire craft are available to the general public. A tripping boat, the John Pinkerton, operates regularly during the summer and autumn along the Hampshire sections and a restaurant barge, The Camelot, operates out of the Canal Centre at Mytchett and The Painted Lady operates from Woking. There is also a boat, The Mildred Stocks, which caters specifically for disabled parties. There is always something going on the canal, so get down there and witness it for yourself.
Heading Towards Blacksmith's Bridge
In angling terms the canal came of age in July 1997 when it hosted it's very own National Championship match, a goal the BCAA had been aiming for since it's inception. The Division 5 National saw 900 anglers lining the towpath between Odiham and the Ash Aqueduct and provided one of the best nationals of the year. In 2001 the canal hosted the Division 4 National Championships which saw a top weight of over 40lbs and an average weight of over 3lb a man. In August 2002 the canal reached the pinnacle of the match fishing calender by hosting the Division 1 National Championships.
Further information about the Basingstoke Canal can be obtained from the Basingstoke Canal Visitors Centre in Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett which is well worth a visit or they can be contacted on 01252 370073. Also take a look at our Other Links page for more exciting surfing.
A view of the Barley Mow 's turning point
The Surrey and Hants Canal Society was formed in 1966 in a bid to restore the canal to its former glory. Restoration of 32 miles of the canal, from the eastern end of the Greywell Tunnel to the Wey Navigation, was not completed until 1990, though fishing was viable in the late 1970's on the Hampshire sections. The 5 miles of canal between the Greywell Tunnel and Basingstoke could not be restored without a great deal of investment due to the collapse of the Greywell Tunnel in 1932, and both the construction of the M3 motorway and the Basingstoke town centre.
The Greywell Tunnel is now winter home to the largest roost of bats in Britain and as such has been designated a wildlife heritage site of world importance. Much of the canal has now been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the great variance in aquatic plants and wildlife in and around the waterway.