Completed in 1794 the Basingstoke Canal originally connected the Town, and surrounding area, to London with vessels carrying timber, flour and chalk to the City and returning with coal and much-needed fertiliser for the Hampshire agricultural community.
The Basingstoke Canal no longer continues into Basingstoke but can be reached at Old Basing just five miles away or at the Canal Visitor Centre a short drive away.
Presently the Basingstoke Canal runs from Old Basing all the way to Weybridge and the Wey Navigation, and onward to London via the River Thames, and is a fabulous area for getting out and about and enjoying the Easter break.
The Canal is now owned and operated by The Basingstoke Canal Authority whose aim is ‘to create a thriving natural environment for wildlife and public enjoyment and a vibrant recreation and heritage resource’.
The Basingstoke Canal Authority, the BCA, was established in 1992 to manage the defunct Basingstoke Canal on behalf of Hampshire and Sussex County Councils.
So, what can you do at the Basingstoke Canal?
Take a look in at The Canal Visitor Centre at Mytchett this is the perfect place from which to start exploring the canal or simply relax and watch the boats pass by. There is the ‘Trailblazer’ play area, a Gift shop, Tearoom, Picnic space in attractive grounds, Free parking and Information point with friendly staff, plus Camping.
Walking and Cycling along the 32 miles of pathways, and towpaths, that follow the Canal. Blow away the cobwebs of Winter with a brisk walk, take in the glorious countryside, watch the wildlife, take a packed lunch or visit some of the very pleasant Canal Side Inns for a bite to eat and a cooling drink.
Boating, there are narrow boat trips and people may by arrangement bring their own boat to sail on the Canal.
Canoeing, the Canal is perfect for Canoeing. The calm waters offer the ideal environment for a relaxing paddle or doing a spot of distance training. Two clubs use the Canal, The Basingstoke & Deane Canoe Club and the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club, for details ask at the Canal Visitor Centre.
Angling, fishing from the towpath is extremely popular and the canal is stocked with Pike, Carp, Tench and Bream to name a few. An Angling Association manages fishing on the canal and permits can be purchased from the Canal Visitor Centre or from most local tackle shops in the Town.