A glorious Hampshire country pub walk through peaceful countryside and canalside towpaths
This leisurely 3½ mile Hampshire pub walk follows the Basingstoke canal to the lakes and ponds of a local nature reserve. Apart from a short flight of steps leading down to the canal towpath, it’s mostly flat and suitable for all abilities.Download PDF Guide
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Before setting off, have your camera ready. We’d love to see your photos from this walk and we might even feature them on our website. You’ll find our photo uploader at the bottom of this page.
From the pub, turn left and walk over the bridge. Immediately on the other side, steps lead down to the canal. Once on the towpath, continue straight on. This stretch of the Basingstoke canal was built in 1794 to transport agricultural goods from Hampshire to London. Now a designated conservation area, it’s home to many swans and various species of duck. Moorhens and coots favour the more sheltered stretches, though you may only hear their chirrups from the reeds fringing the water’s far side.
“This stretch of the Basingstoke canal was built in 1794 to transport agricultural goods from Hampshire to London”
Continue along the towpath for about ¾ of a mile until the towpath forks. Take the right-hand branch up on to Vale Road. Turn right and follow the road to the mini roundabout and turn left on to Lakeside Road. A minute or two along it, you’ll see the white posts leading into Lakeside Nature Reserve in beautiful Blackwater Valley.
This 20 hectare site was once peppered with gravel workings. Now lakes, ponds and wet woodland, the habitat supports some rare species – including the hairy dragonfly and water violet. Roach, rudd, carp, tench, perch and pike thrive in the bodies of water.
At the end of the parking area is a small wooden bridge. Cross over and pass a wooden post with trails written on it. After entering the trees, you’ll come to a T-junction, where you should head right. The path then bears to the left, passing a sign for Blackwater Valley Path.
The way is now bordered on both sides by water. A short while after, the path turns to tarmac and you’ll see a left turn by a pond. Head down it and past a bench on your left. At the fork, turn left and follow the path back to the car park. From there, retrace your steps along Lakeside Road and Vale Road to rejoin the canal where you left it. Once back at The Swan, head inside and reward yourself with a refreshing drink.
From the 1960s, the canal lay derelict. After being restored, it was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent in 1991.
Point of Interest
To raise the canal up from the River Wey to the plateau in Hampshire, 29 locks had to be built.
Extensively refurbished in 2006 in a contemporary style, the pub features two crackling fires during the winter months.
Located by the beautiful waterside setting of the Basingstoke Canal in Ash Vale, The Swan pub restaurant is the perfect place to come and relax after enjoying a canal side walk, bike ride or boat trip. Stop by and you will be welcomed by our friendly team and introduced to our ever-popular choice of pub restaurant meals and impressive selection of cask ales.
As with any property built well over a hundred years ago, The Swan boasts a colourful history. Originally known as Tupper’s Tavern, the entertainment it laid on for its patrons included cock fighting and boxing matches! Later, it became a military pub, complete with a rat-trap outside for confining unruly soldiers. By the early 1900s, it was a hotel hosting genteel performances by The Salvation Army band and Mr Rowlling’s String Orchestra. Many years and refurbishments later, it has evolved into a relaxing family-friendly venue.
In the warmer, sunnier months you can enjoy alfresco dining in the excellent garden on the embankment of the canal, a haven for ramblers who enjoy exploring its towpaths.
Why not reserve a table for the day of your walk?Reserve your table
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We hope you enjoy this walk and would love to see your photos. Upload a photo below and we might even feature it on our website.