Leaves, weeds and portages

Saturday 18th November 2017

Mytchett to New Haw  –  Basingstoke canal

There are 28 locks on this 14 mile stretch of the canal so I was not that surprised that only two other Hamptoneers signed up for the trip of a lifetime! Paul who has not missed a trip since he joined the club and Jenny who is always up for a paddling challenge.

It was a grey, cloudy day but the main colour along the canal was the golden tinge of the Autumn leaves forming a carpet on the canal and blowing off the trees which line the canal from start to finish. There was no other boat traffic once we had left the top Mytchett pound and started descending the locks, just a few dog walkers, hikers and bikers along the towpath.

As the locks progressed we honed our portage routine to be able to hop out of our boats, haul them out of the water onto one shoulder, trot along to the lower end of the lock, drop boat in water and get paddling again to less than 60 seconds. This meant that before long we reached the end of the Frimley flight of 14 locks and got a paddle of about a mile on the pound to the top of the Brookwood lock flight. This is just three locks in quick succession before another nice 2 miles of paddling to the…. dry section of the canal.

In some lock pounds water had leaked out lowering the water level by a couple of feet which made getting out at the portage quite tricky and meant lying down on the river bank to reach down and retrieve your kayak.

We had been forewarned that locks 11 to 7 were being repaired and this section of canal would be ‘de-watered’. We had some food and water and then hoiked our kayaks onto our shoulders for the half mile walk to the next stretch of water. We stopped occcasionally to move the kayak from one shoulder to the other and before long reached the pound above the Goldsworth top lock (#11).

5 minutes later we paddled up to the Bridge Barn pub, a modern Beefeater place meant to look like an old barn. The lunchtime menu had a range of dishes for a fiver which were just what we needed in the middle of a long paddle, with 6 miles and 6 locks still to go you don’t want too large a lunch!

After lunch we had our longest uninterrupted paddle of 3.2 miles so with Paul powering ahead as leaf clearer fuelled by his gammon steak and chip lunch we were soon at the top of the final flight of locks (#6).

The Woodham lock flight is spread over one mile and before we knew it we had reached the apocryphal lock number ONE! Just an easy mile left down to New Haw, turning left onto the Wey navigation under the M25 bridge.

Boats were soon on the roof rack for the quick drive back to Mytchett to collect cars and return to the club house to clean down the boats which were plastered with leaves, twigs and various detritus from the canal.

We all agreed it was a very enjoyable if exhausting day out, next year anyone?

Phil Tauwhare

Basingstoke Canal distances and facilities
Parking Locks Miles
New Haw – Wey Easy above lock 0.7
Woodham Junction 0 0.0
Woodham bottom lock 1 0.3
Woodham lock #2 2 0.7
Woodham lock #3 3 1.2
Woodham lock #4 4 1.3
Woodham lock #5 5 1.5
Woodham top lock #6 6 1.6
Bridge Barn Pub Pub car park 4.8
Goldsworth bottom lock 7 5.3
Goldsworth lock #8 8 5.4
Goldsworth lock #9 9 5.6
Goldsworth lock #10 10 5.7
Goldsworth top lock #11 11 5.8
Brookwood bottom lock #12 12 7.4
Brookwood lock #13 13 7.5
Brookwood top lock #14 14 7.6
Frimley bottom lock #15 15 8.5
Frimley lock #16 16 8.8
Frimley lock #17 17 8.9
Frimley lock #18 18 9.1
Frimley lock #19 19 9.3
Frimley lock #20 20 9.5
Frimley lock #21 21 9.6
Frimley lock #22 22 9.7
Frimley lock #23 23 9.8
Frimley lock #24 24 10.0
Frimley lock #25 25 10.1
Frimley lock #26 26 10.3
Frimley lock #27 27 10.4
Frimley top lock #28 28 10.7
Mytchett Car park / café/ toilets 13.1
Ash Vale Station car park 14.2
Ash lock #29 29 16.4
Wharf bridge, Aldershot Car park 17.8
Eelmoor bridge Street parking 19.2
Pondtail Bridge Street parking 20.7
Reading Rd Car park 21.7
Fox and Hounds Pub Pub + street parking 22.3
Crookham Wharf Car park 23.8
Barley Mow Public car park 26.3
Colt Hill Bridge / Waterwitch Public car park 28.9
N Warnborough lift bridge Some parking 30.3
Odiham Castle 30.5
Whitewater winding hole 30.6
Greywell Tunnel 31.2

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