Exploring the Watery Wonders of the Canal by Kayak, Canoe or Paddleboard
There has been a marked increase of usage of the canal during the Covid 19 Pandemic. While the towpath has been extremely busy from the start with people discovering the importance of this local asset on their doorstep. As soon as travel restrictions were lifted enough to travel for exercise then the canal itself has become a haven for people exercising on the water in Canoes and Kayaks and on Paddleboards.
Where at one time I might have passed less than 10 unpowered boats on a sunny day while carrying out licence checks on the canal, suddenly I was passing 50+ boats. This I believe is fantastic for local people as a form of exercise and truly good for mental wellbeing pottering down the canal afloat. It has also been an important source of income for the canal during times when our normal income streams like many other businesses have been cut off.
British Canoeing ‘on the water’ membership will also cover you for use of the Basingstoke Canal (at least one membership/boat is required) and also other local waterways such as the River Wey or the River Thames.
Very importantly, all proceeds from BCA boat licences go directly back into maintaining the canal. So while enjoying a very cheap day out on the canal, getting exercise and suitably mentally relaxing. At the same time you are contributing towards the upkeep of the canal and ensuring that it will be here for you to enjoy for another visit.
As an aside please note that swimming is not permitted in the canal for your own safety and is against the byelaws. The canal is regularly patrolled by both staff and volunteers, checking licences from both on and off the water. Please have yours with you (or evidence of purchasing one on your phone) ready to show when asked.
Keep your eyes peeled for a new BCS guide to paddling on the canal soon to be available for purchase from the BCS website and from the Canal Centre at Mytchett. In the meantime here are some good launch points to get you started on the canal:
- Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham, RG29 1AL,
- Barley Mow Wharf, Spratts Hatch Lane, Winchfield, RG27 8DE,
- Crookham Wharf, Crondall Rd, Crookham Village, GU51 5SU.
If you are out for a paddle in Woking don’t forget to stop for a coffee at our new refreshment van on Woking Wharf.
If you don’t have your own boat, then boats of all shapes and sizes can be hired for short periods of time from the Canal Centre at Mytchett and from Galleon Marine at Colt Hill in Odiham.
Canal Manager, Basingstoke Canal Authority