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Along The Wey & Arun Canal – June 2017

Published on: 22 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2017

A regular update from the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT), a charity restoring the waterway which once ran 23 miles from Shalford to Pallingham in West Sussex. The Trust has established the Hunt Nature Park, where the canal route meets the River Wey, as part of its aim to create a green corridor for wildlife and recreation.

In 1867, a gentleman called JB Dashwood, with his wife and their dog made his way in a small yacht from Weybridge to the Solent, via the River Wey, Wey & Arun Canal and the River Arun. His mission was to see the Royal Navy’s Spithead Review being staged in honour of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

They arrived in the English Channel after several days of adventures while being towed by horse down the canal, to sail into a fierce gale that disrupted the biggest and most powerful gathering of warships ever seen.

Dashwood recreation.

The Dashwoods had to abandon their plan to sail on to Christchurch because of the foul weather. Nevertheless, he recommended the journey to “anyone having a few weeks’ holiday from their daily work in London who may like to run down to the sea without much expenditure of either time or money”.

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust and the National Trust are jointly celebrating the 150th anniversary of JB Dashwood’s adventurous journey with a boating rally on Saturday, July 8.

Everyone with a small boat is invited to join a flotilla from Thames Lock at Weybridge, down the Wey and Wey Navigation to Shalford. And all those taking part – boaters and spectators – are invited to wear their own interpretation of Victorian boating dress for the occasion.

Boats will assemble at Thames Lock (KT13 8LG) at 9.30am. Please note that there is no parking at or near the lock. Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards can be launched at the public slipway in Walton Lane (KT13 8LU). There will be refreshments at Thames Lock for all participants and spectators.

Between 10am and 10.30am, the lock will be will be operated by the lock-keeper. Please book online (see below) if you need use of the lock.

Refreshments will be served at Coxes Lock (KT15 2JY) in Addlestone from 11am to 1pm. The journey continues along the River Wey through Send and Bowers Lock before reaching Stoke Mill and the centre of Guildford. There are a number of pubs along the route in Guildford and plenty of public parking.

The finishing line is at Gun’s Mouth, on the Wey & Arun Canal at Shalford. Events there included the official opening ceremony of the new canoe landing stages  kindly sponsored by British Canoeing.

From 1pm to 4pm, the National Trust is opening Shalford Mill (GU4 8BS), a fine example of an 18th-century watermill with well-preserved machinery. Normal admission charges apply for non-NT members.

To join the Dashwood flotilla, please book at www.weyarun.org or by e-mail to events@weyandarun.co.uk. Canoeists, kayakers and paddleboarders who are not members of British Canoeing will need a River Wey day licence, as will boaters who are not licensed for the Wey. Licences can be obtained at Thames Lock.

Along the Wey & Arun Canal, the New Compasses Bridge at the Alfold Entrance to the Dunsfold Park airfield and business complex is at last looking like the finished article. There is water underneath and the landscaped banks are turning green with freshly sown grass.

The public viewing platform on the Three Compasses pub side is now open to the public. To the north, the waterway is substantially ready for boats; to the south, desilting is needed down to Tickner’s Heath at Dunsfold, which it is hoped will be completed by the autumn.

The WACT volunteers’ next major job will be replacing the causeway at Tickner’s with a similar bridge to Compasses, enabling the restoration project to progress south through Sidney Wood, towards the current northern head of navigation of the fully operational canal section near the Surrey-Sussex border.

PICTURE CAPTION FOR WACT Dashwood re-creation.jpg

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