Finally reopened in 1991 following years of campaigning and restoration work carried out by the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society and the two county councils, the Basingstoke Canal represents an oasis of calm in the densely populated south-east corner of England.
Leaving the River Wey at Woodham, the Basingstoke climbs steadily up to the Deepcut flight of locks, where 14 chambers elevate the canal by a further 90ft within the space of a couple of miles. There follows a series of lakes – or flashes – before the final lock is reached at Ash. Thereafter, despite the brooding presence of Aldershot and Fleet, the canal succeeds in preserving its mainly rural identity for the remainder of the journey to its terminus shortly before Greywell Tunnel. Water supply problems and other maintenance difficulties have plagued the waterway in recent years but perseverance is recommended – this is a surprisingly lovely canal, especially at its western end where a visit to the lovely Georgian town of Odiham can provide a fitting climax.
Notes: Visiting boats require a licence from the Basingstoke Canal Authority. Water shortages can be a problem and visits should be booked well in advance.