The story of Henry the Forgetful

A short description of the Basingstoke Canal

Basingstoke Canal runs for 32 miles through scenic countryside between Greywell Village in Hampshire and Woodham in Surrey. It was originally a transport system for agricultural produce. By the mid 1960’s it had become derelict and a campaign began for its restoration.

Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is a special habitat for aquatic plant and animal life. The natural springs in the canal bed help keep it in water. Restored bridges, the lakes and flashes near Mytchett and the locks in Surrey are some of the many features of the canal. Greywell Tunnel is especially interesting as it is home to many species of bats. After its collapse in 1932 it now blocks navigation to the original end point at Basingstoke.

Another important feature of the canal is Odiham Castle. This is one of three strongholds built by King John, and the place from which he rode out to Magna Carta in 1215. Construction took place between 1207 and 1214 and involved setting out square moats and raising banks. In 1216, shortly after it was finished, it suffered a two-week siege at the hands of the French. During the 13th century it became home to the de Montfort family, and would have been one of the most powerful households in the land at the time. During the 14th century it was a prison to a Scottish king for eleven years, but was being used less and less. By the 15th century it was used only as a hunting lodge and eventually fell into ruin.


    • Route
    • Temporarily closed
    • Restricted use



Start where the path goes over the entrance to the tunnel.

Follow the route along the towpath. Carry on along the towpath.

Go along the path until you come to the bench where the canal widens.

Go along and stop outside the castle. Stop here and explore the castle.

Go out and turn right and go back the way you came.