Friday 6 August 2021


 Today's Canal - Basingstoke

We needed tro be at the top of the Deepcut Flight in time for their opening at 9.30.We were also keen to be at the head of the queue! We also needed to stop at the service block at the Mytchett Visitor Centre with a fairly slow tap that would take the better part of half an hour to fill our tank. As a result we set the alarm early and prepared to set off  soo after 6 as possible.

In the event Andrew was ready to cast off at 6.15 although we were all awake at the same time.

The morning was damp at times, but did cheer up in patches later, with only one attempt at a light shower.

Around Ash Vale there seemed to be a never ending set of rail lines, mostly local commuter services. crossing the canal or running parallel. Some of the bridges appeared with little warning! 

As we discovered on the way up, most of our journey was surround by trees and other vegetation that provided an almost complete canopy at times.

We passed this building in Ash Vale but were uncertain what its original (or even current) purpose was. Looking on old maps the site is labelled 'boat house' but we wondered whether the extant structure is more recent than that. Anyone know?

Later, as we descended the Deepcut Flight we were alongside a busy four track main line running up from Exeter and Portsmouth. However our first encounter with it was over a short aqueduct and we were barely aware of what lay beneath.

We reached the Mytchett Canal Visitor centre in just over an hour. We needed water as well as the elsan. A slowish tap meant that the stop added about half an hour to our journey time. It was still early and the swing bridge that gives pedestrian access to the centre when it is open was still firmly locked open and not across the canal.

Eventually we entered the long Deepcut cutting. The eponymous nearby village took its name from the excavations required to build the Basingstoke Canal. For over a century it has also been associate with an important army barracks, sometimes with difficult implications. For us, this morning, it was a very peaceful place. However,. it was noticeable that shortly before entering the cutting the depth of water became much shallower and our pace dropped back to under 2 mph (earlier we had comfortably managed around 3)

Finally, we arrived at Deepcut Top Lock at around a quarter to nine. We tied up and waited for the ranger to arrived to unlock which he did exactly on time. There were only two other boats making a passage today and they were travelling so we were on our own this time.

The pounds were much fuller today and we had little problem with depth and did not come aground at all. For longer spells it was increasingly warm but an odd shower meant that we occasionally needed to shelter or don a hat.

We completed the flight of fourteen locks by 1 o'clock. As we wanted to stay ahead of the other boats ( we could say that we did not want to hold them up but in reality we wanted the choice of the two mooring spots! Se planned a trip to Sainsbury in Knaphill and also there were ideas of looking for fish and chips for our meal tonight)

It is only two thirds of a mile to the Brookwood flight of three which we cleared in half and hour.

It was rather pleasant weather when we emerged form the bottom. We arrived at our chosen mooring - the same as the one we used on the way up - by two o'clock. Some of us had had our lunch 'on the go' between the flights and the rest sat down to theirs after mooring.

It may have been the effect of starting off so early or it might have been the heavy rain and occasional thunderclap, but we failed to go shopping all afternoon! The rain cleared by five and so Mike and Andrew walked up to he supermarket to re-stock our larder for the next few days. Later, Andrew walked into Knaphill to pick up some excellent fish and chips from one of the several options.

9.5 Miles - 17 Locks

No comments:

Post a Comment