The full 37 and half miles from the Wey to Basingstoke
WW2 Army Defences: The whole length of the Basingstoke between Chequers Bridge and Tundry Pond is littlered with the remains of military defences. As well as the traditional pill box, there are tank traps. These were designed to stop enemy tanks from crossing the canal.
Tank traps near Chequers bridge, Crookham.
As well as tank traps, in the late autumn the canal is very colourful. Most of the canal was photographed in the late summer of 2002, but the section from Fleet to Greywell was done on a gloriously crisp, misty November Sunday, where the conditions were right for bringing out the full range of colurs seen along the canal. Above – a hire boat from Odiham makes its way past anglers.
Many tank traps are situated offside, around Coxmoor Bridge. The crossing of the canal was obvioulsy of sufficient importance to warrant so much effort at defending it. Some traps actually sit in the canal itself
Pill box on towpath before Coxmoor bridge
Double Bridge near Dogsmerfield
Double Bridge (a misleading name for its just the one bridge.) It has a fascinating arrangement of iron straps and plates – on one side just the simple straps and on the other the plates that hold these tie bars right through to the straps. Quite an unusual arrangement:
More tank traps near Double Bridge. These are some of the most impressive as their massive foundation blocks can be seen. A tree even has managed to grow between these giant lumps of concrete
Beyond Double Bridge there is another attractive country house
Blacksmiths Bridge and winding hole, Dogsmerfield
Blacksmiths bridge. There is a winding hole here and on the far side of this one can see yet more of the wartime defences. As discussed previously they were designed to stop tanks crossing the canal, but if they were only at strategic positions surely tanks could have just entered the canal at other places. It really doesnt make sense. Suppose some defences were better than none. In any event there was no invasion so the defences couldnt be tested to fail!
From Blacksmiths Bridge the canal skirts Dogsmerfield Park and the large expanse of water glimpsed to the west is known as Tundry Pond. Its a large lake with ornamental bridges at the end furthest away from the canal. The pond has existed here a long time and the large estate it is in is known as Dogsmerfield Park. This park is one of the reasons the canal takes a long loop between Blackmsiths and Spratts Hatch.
More information and pictures on Dogsmerfield Park here
Old wartime pill box south of Dogsmerfield
Opposite the pond are yet more defences. But this is the last lot. And what looks like an ordinary pill box is certainly not what it seems. Its level with the canal but in order to get in it one has to go down the embankment and then clamber through a very low entrance and up a narrow flight of steps into the main part of the box. As a rule pill boxes look over the waterway (or railway) they are defending and the entrances are at the rear. The Basingstoke Canal News (Summer 2009) has a feature on the wartime defences and the author suggests that the unqiue arragnement was neccessary because the box had to defend the embankment leading up to the canal, Tundry Pond opposite and Blacksmiths bridge to the south.
Just before the canal enters the woods and cutting past the village, its Country House and other buildings such as this attractive square church tower can be seen behind the towpath across the fields.
Visible portion of the Great Wall of Dogsmerfield. This was built by volunteers as a means of stabilising this section of Dogsmerfield cutting, which is almost right by Dogsmerfield House.
Barley Mow bridge, Winchfield. The Barley Mow Inn is about 100 yards from the canal.
The Barley Mow.
Next: Broad Oak and Odiham
WOODHAM JUNCTION TO GREYWELL
Introduction / Byfleet – Woodham Locks / Woodham – St. Johns / St. Johns – Hermitage / Brookwood – Pirbright / Deepcut Flight / Deepcut – Frimley / Basingstoke Canal Centre / Great Bottom Flash – Ash Vale / Ash lock – Norris Hill / Fleet – Crookham / Chequers – Barley Mow / Barley Mow – Odiham / Odiham – Greywell
GREYWELL TUNNEL TO BASINGSTOKE