Winding through the Hampshire and Surrey landscapes, the Basingstoke Canal Towpath Trail leads you alongside this 200-year-old waterway for 33 miles (53 km). Blissfully flat, vividly green and packed with fascinating history, this is a fantastic hike for a long weekend.
The trail begins at Up Nately, a village in the pretty Hampshire countryside to the east of Basingstoke. This is the beginning of the canal as it exists today. You head eastwards to find the first and most incredible historic sight on the route, King John’s Odiham Castle. From there, you follow the water on its meandering journey past vibrant forests and tranquil settings to reach Fleet. Unlike many canals, this one loops and wanders about, allowing you to cut corners or adjust your route if you need to.
From Fleet, the canal winds through military training areas and past barracks to reach Aldershot before taking you north and east for a majestic flight of locks. You hike through the heart of Woking, the canal providing a perfect corridor through this bustling town. Finally, you reach the Wey Navigation, where the canal ends and flows, via the Wey, into the Thames.
The landscape this walk takes you through benefits from large towns, small villages, plentiful countryside and excellent access to pubs, accommodation and public transport connections. As a result, it takes relatively little planning to complete and you can do it in separate trips if you like.
The canal isn’t just a conduit for hikers, you can spot plenty of wildlife along its vibrant banks. Dragonflies, kingfishers, fish and small mammals all rely on the canal for their habitats. When it comes to culture and history, the route’s castle ruins, historic aqueducts, pretty locks and unique bridges combine to make every mile interesting.
You can reach the start by taking the train to Basingstoke and catching a 30-minute bus to Blackstocks Lane and then walking a short way south to the towpath. Alternatively, you can catch the train to Hook and get a taxi to Up Nately.
This hike is in the south of England, so you can expect warm summers and fairly mild winters. I recommend taking on this trail from late spring to early autumn, so you can see the canal’s surroundings in full bloom. Early summer is particularly lovely. The trail is level so any trainers or boots that you’re comfortable hiking long-distance in will be fine.
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Last updated: April 12, 2022
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The first stage begins at Penny Bridge in Up Nately. You follow the towpath briefly before the canal disappears into an old tunnel, and you deviate from it temporarily to reach Greywell via a bridle path. It’s not long until you rejoin the canal though and hike alongside it to the ruins of Odiham Castle…
by Kit P
The middle stage is 10.2 miles (16.4 km) and has some fascinating history in store for you as well as supremely tranquil sections that make you wonder if you should sell your possessions, buy a barge and putter along the canals of England.
You leave Fleet – a good place to stock up on food – and follow…
by Kit P
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The final stage takes you to the Wey Navigation over 11.3 miles (18 km). On the route, you can enjoy the amazing flight of locks from Deepcut to Brookwood, as well as hike through the heart of Woking, find peace in tranquil spots and see narrow boats in all their glorious colours.
You begin at Deepcut…
by Kit P
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