CSCC Reports 2004: Basingstoke Canal 24 October 2004
On 24 October 2004 Chris, Beth, Dan Jones, Martin and Frank paddled on the Basingstoke canal from Mytchett canal visitor centre to Ash lock and back, a total distance of 6.5 miles. Rather improbably, given the forecast, we enjoyed a warm, dry day with frequent sunny intervals. Mytchett is only a short drive down the M3 from Chiswick and with no need for a car shuttle we were on the water by about 11 am. This stretch of the canal is broad and pleasant and the trees lining its banks were resplendent in autumnal hues. A light sprinking of fallen leaves on the surface of the water gave an indication of the direction of (very slight) flow on the canal. The canal was for the most part remarkably clean and in places the water was so clear that the bottom could be seen.
The course of the canal passes through small lakes at Mytchett Lake and Greatbottom Flash. Just past Ash we had the novel experience of paddling over a dual carriage-way as we passed on an aquaduct from Surrey into Hampshire. A few hundred yards further on we came to the lock gates at Ash Lock and stopped for lunch after which we returned to Mytchett in time for a pint in Potters, a large pub near the canal centre. During the whole trip we only encountered one moving canal barge. There was a family of swans at Ash, the cygnets nearly fully-grown, and numerous fishermen at intervals along the tow path, none of whom were at all unfriendly.
To sum up, a pleasant, easily arranged and thoroughly undemanding paddle through very pretty scenery, enjoyed by all
All images ©2004 CSCC/Chris Stephens