Basingstoke Canal 13-11-22
This was a round trip, 7km each way, starting at the Mytchett Canal Centre and turning around at Ash Lock.
Paddlers Dave Hillier (Leader), Pierre and Sue Leon, Nathan, Jai, John Murray, Phill Gent and Coco and Fifi.
This stretch of the Basingstoke Canal is more like a river than a canal; as it morphs into lakes and slowly meanders its way through the Surrey and Hampshire countryside.
It was a most picturesque paddle especially with the autumnal colours, as leaves of yellow, red, brown and black fell from the trees onto the water like rain.
The put in point was the Mytchett Canal Centre where Dave did his safety talk and we all limbered up by mimicking chickens; fortunately, we were more or less alone.
The weather started off misty and overcast but within an hour or so we were paddling in full sun with not a hint of wind or rain.
The joy of these trips is not merely experiencing the great British countryside but also the leisurely banter and story-telling between we paddlers.
On the way out we paused on Ash Viaduct to give two minutes of silence for Remembrance Day.
Shortly after, we stopped at Ash Lock for lunch and a short rest. The lock is old fashioned and completely manual. You’d need a lock windlass (handle) to operate the lock otherwise you won’t be able to progress along the canal. Or maybe get lucky, tucking in behind a narrow boat.
The way back was just as restful and carefree as we interspersed the paddling with breaks to admire the countryside and chat. We floated into family of swans out for their Sunday paddle. The youngsters were almost out of their juvenile plumage and quite grown up. “Dad” was a bit miffed by our presence though but we kept our cool and shuffled out of his way.
We weren’t the only ones out on the canal as we glided past a couple paddle-boarders and SOT kayakers. But we mostly had the canal to ourselves, the wildlife and the occasional fisherman.
Fortunately, there were no mishaps; although I did have a near miss when I spun my kayak around to fast whilst taking a photo and I nearly keeled over.
We ended the day where we started at the Mytchett Canal Centre for tea, coffee and a smoke just before sunset.
Video courtesy of Pierre Leon