The 32 mile Basingstoke Canal, owned jointly by Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, is managed for the Councils by the partner funded Basingstoke Canal Authority. Built in the 1790s the Canal, along with many others in the UK, became derelict by the 1960s and was bought by the two County Councils to ensure its future. The Canal was restored to navigable condition with many hours of volunteer effort over a period of 30 years, re-opening in 1991.
Surrey and Hampshire County Councils are currently investing £5.6 million in the Canal's future by carrying out a major maintenance and renewal programme – to ensure the historic structures continue to be safe for today's residents. This means there has and will continue to be some unavoidable temporary closures to navigation. The flight of 14 locks at Deepcut, reopened at Easter 2013 after a closure of four years for major repairs and replacement of a number of the lock gates; a major landmark in the renovation of the Canal.
All the Surrey section of the Canal is now open for public navigation - however the four Surrey lock flights have restricted opening times to help us conserve water (the Canal having had a water supply problem since it was built). Lock times, Canal Bylaws, navigation rules and other boating information is available from the Basingstoke Canal Authority at the Mytchett Canal Centre. A regular navigation update is published on their website.
The towpath alongside the full length of the Canal is available for public use at any reasonable time although it is not a public right of way, offering easy walking through urban and rural areas. In many places it is possible to walk one way and return by train. The Canal is a pleasant green oasis even in the heart of town, it is teeming with wildlife and is specially protected for its range of water plants and dragonflies. Throughout the Woodham – Woking - Brookwood section of the Canal the towpath forms part of the Woking Cycle network for all weather cycle use, elsewhere an all-terrain bike will be needed – please cycle at a moderate pace and give way to other users.
For information on boating, boat trips, fishing, family and children's events and the excellent tea room, contact the Canal Centre at Mytchett on 01252 370073.
Vision, Action Plan and Technical Report
Surrey and Hampshire County Councils jointly commissioned work from Planning Solutions Consulting to produce a vision for the Basingstoke Canal. The Vision will form the basis for a new business plan and subsequent investment in the Canal. Following a period of consultation the Vision was agreed by the Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee in October 2012.
A summary, together with the Vision & Action Plan and Technical Report are available to download below.
The Vision for the Basingstoke Canal is to create a thriving natural environment for wildlife and public enjoyment and a vibrant recreation and heritage resource. Central to the Vision is to create a navigable waterway serving the public. The Vision seeks to unlock the potential economic contribution of the Canal and its corridor and also to become a focal point for increased community and volunteer involvement and use. The ambition is to become a well loved, distinctive and well known destination for an extended market including day visitors and tourists attracted to discover and enjoy its peaceful setting and unique character.