If you want to get on the water during the chillier months, canal trips are a good option, as they protect a little more from the winds. Follow along our autumnal drip down the canal, gliding through leaves scattered on the water, taking in the autumn reds and purples on this winding waterway in the north of the County.

Even on a relatively short stretch of waterway like this one there is landscape diversity and things to see and do. The canal winds its way through Hampshire and Surrey, a thirty-two-mile-long stretch from Greywell Village in to Woodham. To find out lots more about the canal visit the website of Hampshire County Council; Countryside, Basingstoke Canal pages.

We took our paddleboards and found lots of options for launch points on the navigable part of the canal.

🅿️ 3 parking spots for launch points – all free

  1. Basingstoke canal car park – RG29 1FR
  2. Mychett canal centre – GU16 6DD
  3. Barley Mow slipway car park – RG27 87Y

Gliding through history

The canal was completed in 1794, according to the Basingstoke Canal Society, which provides guardianship of the canal. The main goods transported on the canal to London were timber, flour and chalk. The Society’s website contains a wealth of information about the canal and things to do. 

Luckily, the Canal Centre at Mytchett is a place to find out more information and it also has a great little café with reasonably priced food, plus a fun adventure playground for children. Canal boat trips also launch from here, including the Santa Express!

Get a day licence for your paddleboard

You need a day license to use an unpowered boat on the canal or an annual British Canoeing On the Water membership which includes a waterways licence to paddle river navigations and canals across England and Wales. The joy of canal paddling is the slow pace and being up close and personal to life on the water, including the many brightly painted canal boats and small craft that people use for leisure or as their homes. 

Enjoy the wilderness

The canal winds its way through pockets of wilderness, where bird enthusiasts can rejoice. With the quiet nature of the paddleboard, the possibility of seeing a heron standing in salute as you glide past, is definitely there. So keep your eyes peeled, as without engine sounds, they are less likely to be spooked and fly off. Coot, moorhen, and many waterfowl inhabit the canal.

Mind your head!

Passing under low bridges is great fun, seeing if you can stand up or need to quickly sit down. We did not navigate any locks on our trip but portaging with boards is often the easiest option!

Paddleboarding along the Basingstoke Canal is a chance to connect with nature and find peace and tranquility. So next time you need a little escape, why not grab your board and head out onto the water? You never know what wonders await just around the bend.

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