Organised by Peter Powell for 2020 cruising season, like the Tideway cruise, it has only come to fruition this year.  Thanks to Peter for organising this cruise and all the communications with the Basingstoke Canal Society and.  We were guests of the Society at their 30th Anniversary Celebrations of the canal’s restoration, although it is now 31 years as the event had been postponed from last year

From the Thames, the Tideway boats joined Peru and NowThen on the River Wey.  At the allotted time for the Basingstoke locks opening for passage, the 4C’s boats arrived at Woodham Junction in an orderly fashion.  A further three boats were also making the passage who went through first, except one that was well down the queue, who then had to be manoeuvred forward !!

The first two days of the Basingstoke is all about locks, flights of six and five on the first day, then three then eleven on the second day. After the first day we moored ‘en masse’ in St John’s Village near Woking, which was located at the top of the last lock adjacent a curry house – so in 4Cs tradition a table was booked for the return trip.  The challenge of the locks was made even more difficult by a combination of badly opening gates, silting and low-water levels, together with many visits down weed-hatches to clear props – as the 4Cs say “a proper days boating”. The vhf radios came into their own communicating and liaising issues between the boats spread out in pairs over four locks.

After the second day of locking, we arrived at Mytchett Canal Centre and were welcomed by the Basingstoke Canal Society, our hosts for the weekend of Anniversary celebrations.  To start the evening there was an enjoyable lasagne meal, which was heartily consumed after the calories expended on the locks.  There followed a very informative presentation by the Society on the history of the canal, which was enlightening about its many trials and tribulations.

On the Saturday was the Surrey Heath Show at nearby Frimley Lodge Park and several 4Cs moved back along the canal to form a display as part of the Society’s presence at the Show.  Returning in the late afternoon we were guests of the Society at their Anniversary BBQ, with food and live music, an enjoyable and sociable evening.

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Theses lock gates will shut !!


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Moored at Mytchett Canal Centre


Following the weekend several 4Cs boats carried on up the Canal to its current terminus at Odiham, negotiating only one lock, but two very low-bridges.  Moored for the evening in Odiham, then in the morning several boats did venture up to the head of the canal near the Greywall Tunnel (currently impassable due to a collapse, preventing any realistic chance of restoration to Basingstoke).  As well as the many trees that adorn the Canal, plenty of World War 2 structures were evident, with one of the 4C’s being knowledgeable in all the different type of ‘pill boxes’ and ‘anti-tank barriers’, we were well informed

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Pill Box type ???


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On our return trip we stopped at Fleet and moored by the Fox & Hounds pub, which was frequented for our evening meal. The next morning the Society had arranged transport for us to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum, which had been especially opened, and they made us most welcome.  A very good informative excursion detailing the inception of air flight in Britain, much enjoyed by all.  Also, having an ex-RAF pilot in the 4Cs we had a first-hand demonstration of fitting into a jet cockpit, for which you needed to be slim !!.

Regrouping at Mytchett, the 4Cs boats headed for the first day of 17 locks. Another challenging day’s cruising, but all arrived by mid-afternoon and safely moored-up in St Johns Village at the top of the locks, so we would be first away the next morning – two banks of three abreast in front of lock plus 2 abreast in the bridge hole. All looking forward to an evening visiting the Curry House adjacent to the canal, then came the news of a tree down several locks in front of us!!  Early evening the Canal Authority arrived to inform us that, on an initial assessment be prepared for a five day stoppage!!!!

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Moored, awaiting release !!


Well in good 4Cs tradition, what can we do during the time of the stoppage?  St Johns Village had plenty of local facilities, so there could have been worse places to be stuck.  First was the Curry House visit booked on the cruise up, which was excellent, plus we negotiated use of its external tap to fill our water tanks (that became Saturday mornings activity).  Activities started with decorating the boats.  Visits were made by several to the hairdresser and barbers.  Then there were the bus trips to Brooklands Museum or to Woking town centre.  Not forgetting there was Pimms O’Clock each day at the allotted 6pm.  Very quickly we attracted a lot of local interest as many locals said, “never seen so many boats here”.  The final evening of our enforced stay in St Johns, the group held the inaugural (and only one) St Johns Festival, with the group performance of a song especially written about our enforced stay [lyrics below].

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Curry Night, a 4Cs favourite, all smiles

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St Johns Festival, the one and only !!

Tree removed and the locks were reopened, so we all set off in our pairs down the locks, but very quickly came across lock issues, as coming up.  Eventually, all boats made it through the locks, the River Wey and onto the Thames again, setting a course for Lechlade and the 4Cs 10th Anniversary celebration.

The cruise on the Basingstoke Canal was an interesting and eventful experience, thanks again to Peter for organising.  Certainly, an achievement to markup on the 4Cs cruising map !!


4Cs St Johns Festival Song
To the tune of – Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel

Well I don’t know why I came here at all
I had a feeling that an oak tree would fall
I’m so scared in case it fall on my boat
And I need to keep this damn thing afloat
There are geese to the left of me
Rangers to the right
And here I am
Stuck in the top lock with you
Stuck in the top lock with you

Well we’re trying to make the best of it all
By creating a St John’s Fest  i   vallll
We have friends and great music too
And we’d love to share this great fun with you
There are geese to the left of me
Rangers to the right
And here I am
Stuck in the top lock with you
Stuck in the top lock with you

Well we started out from Weybridge
And we’re proud we’ve got as far as we can
And our friends they all are calling asking
Why dooooooo you see ?
And we say
Treeeees  lots of

Now Mel has been to empty the loo
And Tesco brought a food parcel too
We got water from the Indian next door
And none of us could need any more
We’ve got hoses to the left of us
Bins to the right
And here I am
Stuck in the middle no poo
Stuck in the middle no poo

So we know why we come here tonight
And our boats are such a beautiful sight
We don’t worry if it’s not in our plan
Wéll enjoy it for as long as we can
Branches to the left of me, tree trunks to the right
Here I am stuck in the middle with you
Stuck in the middle with you
Repeat ad infitum