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Wey & Arun Canal

Wey & Arun Canal

Wey & Arun Canal

In 2023 the Wey & Arun Canal Trust completed the project to remove blockages to the canal route at Birtley, south of Bramley in Surrey. Another major achievement in 2023 was the acquisition of some significant sections of canal route. Several other projects are waiting for various approvals.

North (Shalford/Bramley)

WACT’s ambitions for the canal in Surrey include restoration north and south of the village of Bramley. North of Bramley, a planning application that would re-establish the link with the national waterways system at Shalford, near Guildford, was submitted in 2020. Here WACT owns and manages the Hunt Nature Park. The Shalford Information Point, opened in 2021, is now regularly open to the public and acts as a focal point for visitors and for guided walks.
South of Bramley, WACT now owns a continuous 1.8km length of the canal route in the Birtley and Rooks Hill/Fanesbridge areas. The first task was to remove blockages to the canal route on the Birtley section. A scenic circular walk along this section, which was previously not accessible to the public, is now open. In October 2023 two new lifting bridges were officially opened on the section. The substructure of the southern bridge (Birtley Bridge 1) was constructed by volunteers in 2019. The northern bridge (Bridge 2) is on the site of the original Birtley Bridge. After abandonment of the canal, this bridge was replaced by a causeway and used as a popular walking/cycle route (part of the National Cycle Network). To enable construction of the new bridge, WACT first had to build a temporary bridleway diversion and a gas main had to be rerouted. An archaeological investigation revealed extensive remains of the original swing-bridge. WACT has removed a farm causeway approximately halfway between the two new bridges. The section is not yet available for small boats until access/parking can be improved, although navigation would be physically possible. Reprofiling will be needed before larger boats can navigate.

WACT has submitted a planning application to extend the restored section south of Birtley, which is partly in water and partly infilled. The plans would extend public access to the canal route. They include a restored lock (Fanesbridge) and a brick-faced bridleway bridge. 

Summit (Cranleigh/Alfold/Dunsfold)

North of the busy B2130 road at Elmbridge, near Cranleigh, which currently blocks the canal route, WACT has submitted a planning application to restore the Rye Farm canal section and create a new towpath. WACT has also submitted an application for work that will create a navigable route under the B2130 and allow widening of the single-lane road.
At Tickner’s Heath at Alfold, near Cranleigh, WACT’s aim is to allow the canal to cross the busy Alfold/Dunsfold road. Today a causeway blocks the canal route and it is not feasible to restore the canal crossing at this point. Instead, WACT is creating a new canal route with new road and pedestrian bridges. Volunteers and contractors have completed the piling for both bridges and installed the footbridge, which is now open to the public. Teams also created Surrey’s newest length of canal when they excavated the canal route beneath the footbridge. Work on a road diversion is also partially complete, ahead of construction of the road-bridge. Further progress is not possible until technical approval is received from Surrey County Council for works on the highway.
WACT has submitted a planning application for a second phase of the Tickner’s Heath project, which will link the diverted canal to the existing waterway via a bridge under an access track. WACT has received Common Land consent for this proposed work. Desilting of the section between the A281 at Fast Bridge and Tickner’s Heath (just under 2km) has been undertaken by contractors working on behalf of Dunsfold Park. This work was completed in late 2023.

Dunsfold dredging 2020.


Loxwood/Ifold area:

North of the operational section at Loxwood, WACT acquired two sections of canal route during 2023, on both sides of the rebuilt Gennets Bridge Lock and with a total length of about 1.5km. The more northerly section (Bonfire Hanger) includes the sites of four canal locks. WACT’s priority in this area is to upgrade the towpath (a popular public right of way that is in poor condition) and clear overgrown vegetation from the canal bed. The more southerly section (Gennets Farm) had already seen repair work by WACT volunteers. Over time a causeway that blocks this section will be removed. With these acquisitions WACT now owns or leases nearly all of a continuous 6km canal route from Rosemary Lane (Alfold) to Long Meadow Winding Hole south of Drungewick Lock.

In early April 2023, there was a serious criminal damage incident that put most of the pump installations on the Loxwood operational canal section out of action. Pumping is essential to maintain water levels for navigation. An emergency appeal to rectify the damage raised £60,000 and repair work will not be complete until during 2024. Ash dieback disease has had a heavy impact on the canal route. In the interests of safety, extensive forestry work has been carried out by WACT’s own teams and WRG Forestry (and this work continues).
The section between Drungewick Aqueduct and the winding hole south of Drungewick Lock was still out of use at the end of 2023, pending completion of bank repairs.

Arun Valley (Billingshurst/Pulborough area)

WACT has obtained planning permission to rebuild Lee Farm Bridge, where a causeway currently obstructs the route of the canal. Detailed design work is now in progress. Completion of this work would remove the last obstacle on a section of about 3km between Lordings Lock and Lee Farm Lock.

April 2024

Wey & Arun Boat Rally.


Navigation Authority


Wey & Arun Canal Trust