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 51.4 kilometres (32 miles) up to the collapsed tunnel in Odiham 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.
- Address and references: Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett Surrey GU16 6DD
OS map reference: SU893549
- 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 and toilets. 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).
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 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.
- 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 at Mytchett.
- Summer wildflowers.
- Autumn colour.
- 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. For more details, see the Wildlife on the Basingstoke Canal (PDF) on the Basingstoke Canal website.
- 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 its length. Find out more on the canal centre website.
- 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.
- 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.
Site management, contact and designations
Basingstoke 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 has no legal or corporate identity itself and its staff are employed by Hampshire County Council and are governed by their policies.
The Canal Partnership consists of the two County Councils and six local, borough and district Councils (cart, Rushmoor, Guildford, Surrey Heath, Woking and Runnymede). They fund and supervise the BCA through the Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee.
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If you need to contact us about any issues on the Basingstoke Canal:
- Telephone: 01252 370073
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: The Basingstoke Canal
- Write to us at: Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett Surrey GU16 6DD.
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.