Basingstoke Canal visitor information

Contents

Quick guide and location map

Enjoy lovely views along this pretty canal that starts near New Haw in Surrey, where it flows into the River Thames and, in the other direction, continues for 32 miles (51.4 kilometres), up to the collapsed tunnel in Greywell in Hampshire. You can choose to walk any section of the canal of a distance that suits you or you can cycle or explore by boat. Watch for the varied wildlife, have fun in canoes or kayaks or on pedalos, or buy a fishing permit and savour the peace and quiet as you fish. Please always follow the Countryside Code and if you are a paddler, boater or angler take a look at the Paddlers Code.

Surrey County Council run the Canal Visitor Centre. Further information is available for Campsite bookings, boat trips, hire and charter. All bookings can be made by phoning 01252 370073 or emailing info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk.

Management of the rest of the canal is in partnership with Hampshire County Council through our joint delivery body the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA). For all issues regarding canal maintenance, use of the waterway by your own boat, canoe or kayak, and for angling on the Canal please visit the BCA website.

Quick guide

  • Address and references: Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett Surrey GU16 6DD
    What3Words: finger.from.equal
    OS map reference: SU893549
  • Contact: 01252 370073 or email: info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk
  • Type of site: canal
  • Accessibility: accessible toilets in the car park, towpath is wheelchair and buggy accessible except for in wet weather and accessible boat trips available as well
  • Facilities: Visitor Centre at Mytchett, café, toilets, large free car park
  • Nature to discover: fish, amphibians, dragonflies, kingfishers and other birds, butterflies and much more
  • Dogs: please keep your dog under control
  • Size: 51.4 kilometres long (32 miles)

Location map

On the map below, use the plus symbol to zoom in to see the locations of the site's facilities, including the café, toilets and car parks. Zoom out using the minus symbol to view where the site is situated in Surrey, and to find other countryside sites nearby. The home symbol resets the map to the default setting.

The Basingstoke Canal has a Visitor Centre with a café, located at What3Words reference: common.traded.tops, and the toilets at What3Words reference: nuns.vocab.codes. It also has a canal path on the opposite bank to the Visitor Centre and a footpath leading along from the car park into the woods. The car park is at Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett Surrey GU16 6DD.

Site details

Canal Visitor Centre

The Canal Visitor Centre is at the heart of the site and provides a variety of services, including visitor information, booking facilities and a large function room.

Opening times

April to September

  • Tuesday to Friday: 10.30am to 4.45pm
  • Saturday, Sundays and school holidays: 10am to 4.45pm
  • Closed on Mondays except bank holidays and school holidays

October to March

  • Tuesday to Thursday: 10.30am to 4pm
  • Friday: 10.30am to 3.45pm
  • Closed at weekends

About the canal

The Basingstoke Canal opened in 1794 and was the first canal to be built in England for the transportation of agricultural goods. Its purpose was to carry farm produce and other local products between south east England and London as cheaply as possible. It closed in 1932 and was purchased in the mid-1970s by both ourselves, Surrey County Council, and Hampshire County Council to save it from becoming derelict.

Nowadays, the canal is enjoyed by millions of visitors for a number of different activities, including walking, cycling, fishing, boating and camping to name a few.

The Basingstoke Canal has a number of pubs and train stations along the current 32 miles that are open, so you can plan a long walk or a shorter stroll to suit your preferences. Whatever stretch of the canal you chose to explore, you will enjoy beautiful and peaceful surroundings with much to discover including the abundant wildlife. Different parts of the canal hold their own surprises such as the series of locks in the Surrey part of the canal, the lakes and ponds near Mytchett or the rolling fields and picturesque cottages near Odiham.

The Share the Space message promotes courtesy and better sharing of the towpath space by all who use it, with the basic message being pedestrians have priority and cyclists must give way to other users. This is particularly relevant through Woking town centre section, which sees heavily shared use of the towpath as part of the Planet Network Saturn Trail cycling initiative.


What you can do here

  • Take scenic walks of any length from a gentle stroll to a long hike along the canal
  • Explore many rural stretches of the canal where you can find peace and tranquillity by the water
  • Cycle, walk or embark on an adventure by visiting the Canal Visitor Centre to hire an unpowered boat such as a canoe, sit on top kayaks, row boats and pedalos. Cyclists, please give way to walkers on the towpath
  • Camp out at the Canal Centre campsite
  • Visit the on-site Canal cafe
  • Hire a function room in the Visitor Centre
  • Children's large grass play area
  • Watch the abundant wildlife
  • Dog walking

What you can see here and when

  • Beautiful countryside
  • Scenic waterway views
  • Spring bluebells along the towpath
  • Summer wildflowers
  • Autumn colour along the towpath
  • Winter frosty scenes
  • Nature to discover: fish, amphibians, dragonflies, families of ducks or, if you're lucky, you may spot the blue flash of a kingfisher, butterflies, insects and much more.

Accessibility

  • There is a large car park with wheelchair access and toilets at the Canal Visitor Centre in Mytchett. There are also other car parks along the canal, but these have more of an uneven terrain
  • The towpath varies in width between approx. 1 metre to 2 metres wide and can be muddy during the wetter seasons, particularly in the more rural, Hampshire half of the canal. The Surrey half of the canal is a hard sealed surface path for most of its length, suitable for wheelchair use
  • There is also Accessible Boating based at Colt Hill Wharf in Odiham. This is a charity managed by volunteers who offer day trips and longer holiday cruises on two specially-equipped boats
  • Multiple train stations along the length of the canal. Find out more on the canal centre website

Facilities

  • Canal Visitor Centre in Mytchett with large free of charge car park and toilet facilities. Also includes campsite, play area and unpowered boat hire, such as canoes, sit on top kayaks and pedalos
  • Take a trip on the canal from different locations. The 'John Pinkerton' trip boat operates from Colt Hill in Odiham, the 'Rosebud' trip boat operates from the Mytchett canal centre and you'll find 'Kitty' the trip boat in Woking town centre wharf
  • Hire the function room within the Visitor Centre
  • The Canal café is based at the canal centre in Mytchett serving a range of hot and cold food and a range of drinks
  • Walking and cycling routes off the towpath, there is a Rambles on the Basingstoke Canal guide sold at the Canal Visitor Centre in Mytchett, or online. There is also Frimley Lodge Park just down the towpath in Frimley Green, GU16 6HY. They have three main car park areas which are free of charge
  • Attractive angling locations – to fish on the canal you will need a permit. Please note there is a closed fishing season on the canal from 15 March to 15 June
  • A series of guidebooks about the canal are available to buy online, or from the Canal Visitor Centre.

Boat hire and trips

Boat hire

Pedalos, canoes, sit on top kayaks and rowing boats are available for hire at weekends from Easter to the end of September and daily during Easter, May half term and summer school holidays.

Times and prices:

Boats are available to hire from 10.15am to 3.40pm.

Type of boatCost
Pedalo £10.50 per half hour
Rowing Boat £16 for 1 hour, £24 for 1.5 hours
Canoe £15 for 1 hour, £22.50 for 1.5 hours
Double Kayak £14 for 1 hour, £21 for 1.5 hours
Single Kayak £13 for 1 hour, £19.50 for 1.5 hours

Please note:

  • Boat hire opening is subject to weather conditions
  • You must be able to get in and out of the boat without any assistance from a member of staff
  • If you've booked in advance, please turn up 10 minutes before your hire is due to start and check in at the Canal Visitor Centre reception
  • If you are booking on the day of hire, simply report to reception where a member of staff will check availability and provide further instructions
  • Please note that the hire of a boat is non-refundable unless the Canal Centre have had to cancel in which case a full refund will be offered

Boat trips

'Rosebud' is a 12-seater boat available for public trips at weekends from Easter to September.

During Easter, May half term and throughout the summer school holidays boat trips run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Times and prices:

Return trips run for 55 minutes at 12.00pm, 1.30pm and 3.00pm and leave from the Canal Centre in Mytchett to Greatbottom Flash.

Adult/Child/GroupCost
Adult £6.50
Child (12 years and under) £4.00
Infant (1 and under) FREE
Family (Two adults and two children) £20.00

Charter hire

Our 12-seater narrowboat Rosebud is also available for private 'charter' hire. Each trip will have a qualified skipper and crew member on board. Trips depart from and return to the Canal Centre in Mytchett any time between 10am and 8pm (latest return time). All trips are subject to the availability of the boat, skipper and crew member.

Type of hireCost
Day hire £60 for first hour, £50 for each additional hour
Evening hire (from 5pm onwards) £80 for first hour, £60 for each additional hour

Other boat options

For information on other boat options (John Pinkerton, Accessible Boating or Galleon Marine all running from Odiham or Kitty in Woking) please visit the Basingstoke Canal Authority Website.

How to book

Boat hire and trips can be booked in advance over the phone on 01252 370073, or in person at the Visitor Centre reception. We do advise that you book in advance to avoid disappointment.


Campsite bookings

The campsite at the Canal Centre in Mytchett is open from Easter to the end of September. If the weather is fine the season may be extended.

  • Arrivals 12.30pm to 4.30pm, departures by 12 noon
  • We welcome tents, caravans and motorhomes
  • Dogs welcome but must be kept on a lead and under control in the campsite area at all times
  • No campfires, fire pits or disposable barbecues permitted on site
  • BBQs and other cooking appliances raised well off the ground that do not damage the grass are allowed. Charcoal only to be used, no wood

Facilities

  • Toilets and showers
  • Dish washing area
  • Water points
  • Waste disposal
  • Token-operated power-point to power your hairdryer (charge)*
  • Mobile charging (charge)
  • Ice pack freezing (charge)

There is no electric hook-up but quiet generators are permitted for use from 9am to 9pm.

Charges

Tent size or Caravan/motorhome/trailer Charge per night

1 to 3 berth tent

£8
4 to 6 berth tent £9
7+ berth tent £11
Caravan/motorhome/trailer £10.50
Adult/Child Charge per person per night
Adult £5
Children 6 to 12 years £3
Children under 6 years old Free

Please note:

  • A £15 refundable security deposit is required at the time of booking for a key to access the campsite
  • The first night (first two nights on a bank holiday) is non-refundable. Any cancellations within 7 days of arrival will result in the full loss of payment
  • All bookings for early or late season weekends needs to be made and paid for by 3pm on Friday
  • Minimum booking of two nights for Bank Holidays weekends

How to book

To check availability and for further details please phone 01252 370073 or email info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk.


Venue hire

There is a large function room at the canal Visitor Centre with a maximum capacity of 45 people, available to hire for meetings, classes, talks, celebrations and more. The room is available seven days a week from 9am to 10.30pm, hire period must include set up and tidying away time.

Hire periodCharge
Weekdays £12 per hour
Evenings (after 5pm), weekends and school holidays £15.50 per hour

How to book

To check availability and for further details please phone 01252 370073 or email info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk.


Events and activities

A wide range of events and activities take place on Surrey's countryside estate, visit our What's On web page for further details.

Cream Tea Cruises

What better way to take in the sights of the canal than on a cream tea cruise! Enjoy a 2.5 hour cruise followed by a cream tea on picnic tables on the lock lawn back at the canal visitor centre.

  • Date: Thursday afternoons from the beginning of June to September
  • Place: Check in at Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD
  • Time: 1.30pm for a 2.5 hour round trip to Deepcut
  • Cost: £15 per person

Booking in advance is essential please phone 01252 370073 or email info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk. Please note the maximum number for each cruise is 10.


Schools and groups

We are delighted to welcome school and community groups to the Basingstoke Canal. We offer a selection of self-led activities with further details below:

For all school and group enquiries please contact the Visitor Services Officer at info@basingstoke-canal.co.uk or on 01252 370073.


Mini Beast Hunt

The towpath and surrounding countryside is the perfect place to spot mini beasts. Follow our 45 minute trail to get the kids outdoors and into nature.

  • Date: Anytime during opening hours
  • Place: Start at Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD
  • Time: This activity is self-led and takes approximately 45 minutes
  • Cost: £10 for mini beast hunt equipment hire available from Visitor Centre

Pond dipping

We have a series of pond dipping platforms available for you to take a closer look at the variety of pond life living near the canal. Equipment is available to hire from the Visitor Centre with instructions on pond dipping and help with identifying the different creatures you may see.

  • Date: Anytime during opening hours
  • Place: Start at Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD
  • Time: This activity is self-led and takes approximately 1 hour
  • Cost: £30 for equipment hire available from Visitor Centre

Nature walk

Take a stroll along the canal towpath looking our for and identifying the many birds, animals, insects and plants. The canal has a protected dragonfly and damselfly population.

  • Date: Anytime
  • Place: Start from Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD
  • Time: This activity is self-led and can be enjoyed at any time

Latest news

Changes to the Basingstoke Canal Authority and Canal Centre

Surrey County Council (SCC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) are joint landowners of the Basingstoke Canal, with the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) managing operations on the canal on behalf of both councils. A number of Borough, District, Town and Parish Councils that have the canal running through their areas (known as 'riparian authorities') also make important contributions to the BCA.

Over recent years, decreases in funding coupled with rising costs have made it harder and harder for the BCA to present a balanced budget. Both HCC and SCC recognise the importance of the canal and the significant recreational and health and wellbeing benefits it offers, and are proposing to make changes that will help make the BCA more effective in its decision-making abilities and more financially resilient to help protect it into the future.

For the vast majority of residents and visitors, they will notice very little difference from these operational changes and will be able to continue enjoying the canal itself and Visitor Centre facilities as they always have done.

What changes are being proposed?

The operating model of the BCA has not been reviewed for a significant period of time. A report has been undertaken by consultants who advised that the existing arrangements were unlikely to be the most effective to support efficient decision making, a point echoed by consultees of the report. A simplified governance structure has been proposed to the stakeholders involved with the Joint Management Committee (JMC) and is currently under review.

In order to address some of the challenges in funding, it is being proposed to focus the BCA's responsibilities on critical functions, such as ensuring the canal remains safe, maintaining navigation, and conserving nature.

Functions that fall outside of the above are generally classed as 'Visitor Services' and are located at the Canal Visitor Centre in Mytchett. As part of the proposals, the BCA Visitor Services team will transfer to SCC where resources and expertise can be shared with other SCC teams. SCC is also exploring possibilities for longer-term investment and enhancement of the Canal Centre and its services that will allow it to remain relevant and effective into the future.

What is the proposed timeframe?

The proposed changes to the management arrangements were agreed by Hampshire County Council on 11 March and were agreed by Surrey County Council on 26 March.

What does this mean for the Canal and Visitor Centre?

Under the proposal, SCC will be taking on direct responsibility for the Canal Centre from 1st April 2024 and will be reviewing ways to make it operate more efficiently, but there will be a strong focus on continuing to provide the services that residents and visitors value. Most people will notice very little change and will be able to continue enjoying the Centre and its services as they have always done.

Are you planning on closing the Visitor Centre?

SCC recognises the importance of the Canal Visitor Centre as a community facility offering a wealth of benefits and has no plans to close it.

Will services and opening hours change?

The Visitor Centre will continue to provide the services that residents and visitors care about. Over the coming months there will be a review of processes to identify changes that may help the Centre to run more efficiently, but these are expected to be small changes with little impact on most residents and visitors. Any changes to areas such as opening hours will be communicated in good time before taking effect.

For all bookings please contact:

Why is it important to have a well-managed and maintained canal?

The canal is an important blue-green space for thousands of residents to enjoy and engage with nature. As a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) linking many other green spaces, it acts as a corridor for nature and helps to deliver our nature recovery strategies. As a man-made waterbody integral to the local drainage network, the canal does not self-manage and needs constant attention to ensure that its infrastructure remains safe for residents.

What does it mean for BCA staff?

Staff who are involved with critical functions and navigation of the canal will be unaffected and will continue working for the BCA under a HCC contract. Three members of staff whose work is primarily related to Visitor Services will transfer to SCC to work as part of its Countryside Visitor Services team, where resources and expertise can be shared.

There will be no redundancies, all staff will continue to have a position, but Visitor Services staff will report into a different team and manager at SCC.


Site management, contact and designations

Site management

Surrey County Council (SCC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC) are joint landowners of the Basingstoke Canal, with the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) managing operations on the canal on behalf of both councils. Six local, borough and district Councils (Hart, Rushmoor, Guildford, Surrey Heath, Woking and Runnymede) that have the canal running through their areas (known as 'riparian authorities') also make important contributions to the BCA. All partners work together as the Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee.

The Canal is managed by the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA), that was set up in 1992 to manage the canal on behalf of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils. The BCA's responsibilities are on critical functions, such as ensuring the canal remains safe, maintaining navigation, and conserving nature. The BCA has no legal or corporate identity itself and its staff are employed by Hampshire County Council and are governed by their policies.

From 1 April 2024 Surrey County Council took on the Canal Visitor Centre and the Visitor Services functions and staff.

Contact

Send us any photos you take that you're happy to share on social media, tag @ExploreSurreyUK

If you need to contact us about any issues on the Basingstoke Canal:


Environmental designations of the Basingstoke Canal and what they mean

The canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its water-based vegetation and its dragonfly and damselfly populations.

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