Hampshire walk along the Basingstoke Canal
PUBLISHED: 11:26 29 August 2017
© Steve Davison
Steve Davison heads to Odiham for a walk along the Basingstoke Canal, passing through the rolling landscape of Dogmersfield Park
From the car park we head through Colt Hill, passing The Waterwitch pub, as we skirt round Odiham for a while. After dipping under the A287 we head through the hamlet of Broad Oak; spot the Broad Oak Common sign with its lovely carvings. The walk then heads through Dogmersfield Park, passing near to Dogmersfield Lake, before we catch sight of the grand Dogmersfield Park house, now a hotel, over to the right.
The manor dates back to before the Norman Conquest, although the house is more recent, having been built around 1730 by the St John-Mildmay’s on the site of a medieval palace that once belonged to the Bishop of Bath and Wells. It was here that Henry VII’s eldest son, Arthur, first met the Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon; she later became the first of six wives to his brother, Henry VIII.
Continue downhill before taking a short detour to visit picturesque Tundry Pond; a great place for a lunch stop. The final leg follows the Basingstoke Canal back to Odiham Wharf; from here there are boat trips along the canal aboard the John Pinkerton in summer (basingstoke-canal.org.uk/jp). The canal, which opened in 1794, connected Basingstoke with the River Thames at Weybridge via the Wey Navigation. However, the last five miles to Basingstoke were effectively cut-off following the collapse of the Greywell Tunnel in 1932. By the 1960s the canal was derelict and would have been lost forever, if it wasn’t for dedicated volunteers from Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, who set about its restoration, and it reopened in 1991. Whilst following the canal, take a detour past Wilk’s Water for a view of the unusual, three-gabled Hunting Lodge (private), built around 1740 by the owners of Dogmersfield Park.
• Start/finish: parking area at the northern end of Colt Hill (SU747517); from eastern end of Odiham High Street follow London Road, then straight on along Colt Hill
• Map: OS Explorer 144
• Distance: 5.25 miles (8.4km)
• Terrain: easy ups and downs, tracks and paths, some gates and stiles, sections of road
• Time: 2.5 hours without stops
• Refreshments: The Waterwitch at Colt Hill (01256 702778)
• More Information: To find out more about Steve, including his books, visit: steve-davison.co.uk
1 (SU747517) – From the car park head north past picnic tables to reach the canal. Turn right and immediately fork right up beside the bridge (not under the bridge). Turn left across the canal and follow the lane past The Waterwitch pub to reach Linden Avenue on the left. Continue along the lane for a further 60m, turn left across the road and follow the driveway (Tomkins), bear slightly right to pass to the right of Thursley (house). Continue along the enclosed path, cross a track and keep ahead. Go through a kissing gate and follow the right-hand boundary through a small meadow before leaving through another kissing gate. Turn left along the pavement, passing Langton Avenue on left, to reach the roundabout.
2 (SU750513) – Turn left and then fork left along the path as it soon swings right through the underpass and then right again to arrive back at the roundabout (alternatively cross straight over the A287). Turn left along the lane towards Broad Oak for 430m passing some houses to reach a track on the right at a sign for Broad Oak Common (opposite Wincombe Cottage). Turn right, keep right at the split and follow the enclosed path. Cross the footbridge and enter a field, where the path splits, keep ahead following the left-hand fence and cross a stile at the corner to enter the wood. Continue for a few metres to a path junction and turn right for 450m to join a gravel track. Turn left along this between two houses and keep to the main track for 450m to reach a gated entrance.
3 (SU760514) – Fork right, following a path beside the fence on the right with Dogmersfield Lake to the left. Head slightly uphill, go through a kissing gate, pass under the power lines and bear half-right to continue along a fenced path, soon heading downhill with a view to the right of Dogmersfield Park Hotel. Cross the surfaced drive and continue along the fenced path to reach a drive and track junction. The walk turns left along the surfaced drive, however, to visit Tundry Lake follow the track north and through a gate; retrace steps and turn right. At the gates, fork slightly right along a fenced path and through a kissing gate to join a track at Sprats Hatch Farm. Turn left along the track as it swings right and keep ahead to reach the canal.
4 (SU765526) – Immediately after crossing Sprats Hatch Bridge turn left to the canal. Follow the towpath for 1.5 miles, passing Sandy Hill Bridge, under the power lines to reach a path junction. Here you can take a detour to the right alongside Wilk’s Water to get a view of the Hunting Lodge; retrace your steps to the canal and turn right. Continue on the towpath as it ducks under Broad Oak Bridge. After the A287 bridge, fork right for the car park or keep ahead for Odiham Wharf.