Basingstoke Canal – Deepcut to Frimley
The full 37 and half miles from the Wey to Basingstoke
Deepcut (literally.) The long and deep canal cutting is what gives the locale its name. It stretches for about a mile, but apart from being the deepest, is it the longest cutting on the Basingstoke Canal? The other contenders length-wise has to be the one on the west side of Greywell Tunnel or round Basing Village
This bridge spans the Deepcut and for a seemingly modern bridge it presents a fairly pleasant styling. It is known as Deepcut bridge, and was built in1941.
A bridge leads from the canal into Wharfenden Lake at Frimley Green, which has two low relief ornamental bridges, a floating restaurant and a large hotel, and is part of the Lakeside Country Club. Wharfenden Lake was once a popular destination for boats from Alec Harmsworth’s boat hire base on the south side of the aqueduct. Boats using the canal can venture onto Wharfenden Lake and moor up by the Kingfisher Steak House for a drink and a meal
Wharfenden Lake – General view of the Lakeside International Hotel and the small island
The bridge at the entrance to the lake informs boaters that the right turn is defintely for Basingstoke!
Before and after views of Frimley Aqueduct. The aqueduct in 2002 as compared to this waterless view taken on 25th September 1977. Although the perspective is similar, the view looks different because foilage makes it impossible to see the nearby B3012 road bridge (this road crosses the canal a little distance away at Guildford bridge.)
Frimley Aqueduct is a large structure mainly because the canal crosses the railway route diagonally, although the superstructure itself is built at right angles to the railway. It is said that the aqueduct was lined with lead at one time in order to to prevent persistent leaks. In 1980 British Rail repaired the aqueduct as it was leaking onto the railway, and it was relined with polythene. They found that the aqueduct had indeed been lined with lead on the older (or northern half) of the aqueduct
Frimley Aqueduct from Guildford Road
Guildford bridge (below) is built in a mixture of stone and brick, it is attractive and a rarity, along with Mytchett Place bridge, on this canal. Sprats Hatch bridge, near North Warnborough, has a very similar appearance, though its rendered totally with bricks and reflects the original style by John Pinkerton.
Both Guildford Road and Mytchett Place Canal Bridge are modern replicas built to retain the traditional styles that reflected the canal’s character. The original Guildford Road Bridge was planned for replacement with a dual carriageway, but local people protested and so the more traditional, time honoured way of bridge building was adapted, using modern materials as far as possible and finished in brick and stone facing, using original techniques such as the 100ft line. The structure was finished in 1997. By Guildford Bridge was a boathouse run by Alec Harmsworth until about 1940. There was also an annual regatta here.
Guildford Road (or Kings Head) bridge of 1997
Guildford Road is another point where the towpath changes sides. In fact it is the final towpath change-over point on the entire canal – for the towpath now stays on the north side all the way to Penny bridge (on the far side of Greywell Tunnel) and indeed it remained on that side all the way into Basingstoke. As is the case with other Basingstoke turn-over points, the bridge must be crossed in order to access the different sections of towpath.
This is an attractive view looking from the arch of Guildford Road bridge back towards Frimley aqueduct. The attractive white canalside cottage is a gatehouse lodge (belonging to ‘Frimhurst’, the place where Ethel Smyth, composer and pianist, lived. The Frimhurst estate was cut through by the new LSWR railway, leaving the lodge and the main house isolated from each other except by means of walking along the canal..) It is in some ways remniscent of the toll houses built by Thomas Telford on his London – Holyhead road. At this point the canal widens and the setting is idyllic.
A view of the railway from the canal towpath. Frimley Lodge Park minature railway runs adjacent to the Basingstoke Canal for a considerable distance. The line is similar to the nearby Great Cockrow railway. The area seems popular for small gauge railways as at one time there was the 10 and quarter inch Surrey Border & Camberley Railway which connected Farnborough and Camberley, over two miles apart, and the Foxhill & Farnborough. Timetabled trains ran all year on the SB&CR until the second world war.
WOODHAM JUNCTION TO GREYWELL
Intro / Byfleet – Woodham Locks / Woodham – St. Johns / St. Johns – Hermitage / Brookwood – Pirbright / Deepcut Flight / Deepcut – Frimley / Basingstoke Canal Centre / Great Bottom – Ash / Ash lock – Norris Hill / Fleet – Crookham / Chequers – Barley Mow / Barley Mow – Odiham / Odiham – Greywell