NOTE: This guide was written more than fifteen years ago! The route was last checked in 2009 and it seemed pretty much as it was. I’m not able to get to the area to check on the current status of the walking routes. However the National Library of Scotland has this 19th Century map of the Basingstoke Canal which can be compared with a modern aerial map.
This means the last 5 miles or so from Greywell can be compared to how the canal’s course looks today. Its a good reference point because one can see where the canal once went and what sections can possibly be walked or followed by parallel roads. Its a surprise to see on the modern aerial the canal’s course from the west end of Greywell tunnel to Up Nately is barely discernible and that alone shows nature has reclaimed quite a bit of this section.
The main section of the Basingstoke Canal ends at Greywell tunnel – although narrow or wide beam boats can only go as far as the turning point by the Whitewater aqueduct – its just the canoes or other small boats which can reach the tunnel portal.
The old information board at Greywell which gave a fair bit of the canal/tunnel history. Note the plans to create a footpath on the former canal to Basingstoke. With much modern construction and new roads the idea is now practically impossible.
The eastern portal of the tunnel is Grade II listed and this distinction was made in 1985.
Historic England Listing for Greywell Tunnel Portal, Basingstoke Canal.
The eastern portal of Greywell tunnel with its newer information board (installed 2009.) The towpath rises up alongside and then crosses the portal itself to reach the narrow footpath section shown below.
Above: The footpath leading over Greywell Hill is not the original boat horse route. The first bit from Greywell Tunnel’s eastern portal is a new section that takes one over the top of the tunnel, past this fencing and rather attractive hedging and near to the main part of the village.
The path emerges in Deptford Lane.
The whole route at Greywell Village (thanks to Google Streets!) Basically its from the footpath at right and past this house on the corner of Deptford Lane and Hook Road, and then north along the latter for a distance of around 50 metres before turning left onto the path that leads over Greywell Hill.
The following pictures are from the original Basingstoke feature pages and are still useful!
The path from the tunnel emerges into Deptford Lane. A short walk along this lane brings us to the junction by the Fox and Goose PH. Turn right towards Hook and in a short distance one reaches the path that leads over the hill towards the remainder of the Basingstoke canal.
There are several attractive houses in Greywell worth taking a detour to see. The village has won a ‘Best Kept Hampshire Village’ award, and has the distinction of being mentioned in the Domesday Book.
Walk northwards along the Hook Road and turn left onto the Greywell Hill footpath (route marked in red.)
Where one sees a sign advertising the nearby Fox & Goose PH, adjacent to this is the entrance to the footpath over Greywell Hill.
NOTE: Since my visit in 2009 the entrance to the tunnel path has taken a different appearance and this can be seen here on Google Streets.
Above: The footpath leads off the road from Greywell village and climbs up the slopes of the hill. This well defined stretch uphill from Greywell village traverses woodland.
As the path ascends, it splits into two. Take the right hand route.
After a climb throught the woods, it emerges via a stile onto open heath, which affords some good views and one may find some cows grazing. The route is clearly marked by the clump of trees at the top of the hill . In the past the route was poorly signed but this has improved.
The route at the top of the hill over Greywell Tunnel. The sign says ‘To the tunnel.’
The path over the hill arrives at what were once two tall sturdy trees (one has since been felled and lies to the side of the path) Just beyond can be found another stile and gate (lower pictures) that leads to the section descending to the western end of the Basingstoke Canal.
The large tree stands near these gates, the one just behind the next tree (route marked in red) which give access to the path downhill through the woods.
The route crosses a private drive. Straight over for the route to Greywell tunnel’s western portal.
A meeting of paths soon comes, carry straight ahead.
The route runs through this delightful avenue of trees. At the far end the path diverges for Greywell tunnel.
The junction, seen above, used to be quite easily missed but recent improvements have made it easier to get to the western portal of the tunnel. Turn right here and follow a winding path.
The newly surfaced path as it winds towards the tunnel portal. The canal can just be discerned left centre.
The path crosses the western portal of Greywell Tunnel, behind fencing and marked by the arrow. The path continunes round and down to the information board and narrows where the canal once emerged from the portal.
This footpath information board above the western end of the tunnel marks the turning down to the tunnel portal. It clearly explains the canal path is permissive and not a public right of way.
Although the actual portal has long gone, the tunnel itself can be seen though the railings (marked with a circle) Before the railings were put up one could actually look inside the tunnel itself, but safety considerations prevail nowdays. The Basingstoke Canal Authority still hold responsibility for the tunnel itself. The information board is the same as the one found at the eastern portal of Greywell tunnel.
Next: Up Nately and Brick Kiln bridge.
GREYWELL TO BASINGSTOKE PAGES:
Introduction / Greywell Hill / Tunnel – Brick Kiln Bridge / Penny Bridge – Frog Lane / Mapledurwell – Hatch / Old Basing Village / Basing House – Swing Bridge / Ringway – Basingstoke