Tuesday, 3 August 2021


 Today's Navigations - Wey, Basingstoke

In contrast to the past few days, today was bright and sunny throughout, giving us a good opportunity for photos. Almost all of our journey was under trees so the results were also quite different.

We were just over half an hour away from the rendezvous at the first lock so we timed our departure from Pyrford accordingly. Before leaving we took advantage of the rubbish and elsan points by the lock.

The scenery was absolutely stunning!

The railway bridge marked the imminent arrival of Woodham Junction.

Here we turned left onto the Basingstoke. The view of the weed was a bit daunting but, in practice, this was not the worst issue for the day. It is clear that some effort is made to try and keep the worst of the plant growth at bay.

A few minutes later we arrived at the first lock and nb Joan, which we shared locks with before, was already entering through the bottom gates. Before we could move on we had to complete the paperwork with the chap from the Basingstoke Canal. Fortunately with the aid of our laptop and internet connection we were able to satisfy him!

The pound above the first lock is almost straight and the view of the sun coming though the trees is typical and how the canal is often portrayed.

There are just 22 houseboat moorings (presumably a legacy from when the canal was closed) at three places along the canal and hardly any online moorings. nb Joan has a home mooring above the Deepcut flight.

The six locks in the Woodham flight were fairly easy to operate. However, none of the top gates have the space between the gate and the balance beam filled in, nor is the vertical inside face of the gates lines. Both of these features make it very risky that the rising boat catches its bow underneath part of the gate, lifting it out of its cup bearing and hence blocking the canal until it can be repaired. Fortunately we became aware of the danger at the second lock and thereafter made sure that we kept the boats right at the back. At times the water filling the lock created a very strong pull forward.

In most of the locks we could see an inset behind the bottom gates, suggesting at at one time they had ground paddles.

It may look basic but the use of this device keeps the weeds under as much control as possible.

A modern footbridge that gives access to the large shopping centre is sometimes known as the Bedser Bridge. At either end is a statue of one of the Bedser Twins, famous cricketers that came from the town.

Still close to the center of Woking we saw this new build of six terraced town houses, with a matching array of For Sale boards, These four bedroom houses have just come onto the market at £725K apiece!

The five lock St John's flight was much less straightforward with all of the intermediate pounds being short of water which, added to the general shallowness of the canal meant that progress was at times very slow and both boats were temporarily brought to a halt several times. But with slow perseverance and sometimes  trying different sections of the canal, we both made it through! Towards the top of the flight there was a sizeable team of volunteers tidying up the grass and lock edges.

Another feature of the canal is that there are many places where the water widens out into side lagoons. The various guides warn not to attempt to navigate into them as they can be very shallow, even by Basingstoke standards! This one, as well as being home to some ageing steel work boats, is also marked on our map as a winding hole. We were glad not to need to use it!

The opening schedule for the locks means that we could only do the first two flights today with the remainder tomorrow. This means having to moor overnight on the two mile intermediate pound. Although mooring is allowed almost anywhere along the towpath, there are few places where the depth permits this. On this pound here are only two listed moorings, each having space for two boats. By the time that we passed the first (immediately above the St John's flight) it was full so we carried on to the second which is close to the next flight.

However, whilst it was no doubt once a rather good mooring, built out from the edge to give some depth, it is now in a very sorry - and not too safe - condition. Also, the water point shown on one of our maps is now no longer functional. At least there was one plank left to cross to shore - thankfully it was nailed down.

2 Miles - 11 Locks

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