Basingstoke Canal – Saturn Trail

Basingstoke Canal Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Saturn Trail is a 9 mile trail along the Basingstoke Canal towpath, in Woking, Surrey.
It’s a largely a straight line trail, and as you’d expect from a canal towpath, flat but with gentle increase in height east to west.

It is secluded and peaceful, passing houseboats, locks and wildlife. To the east it begins at Woodham Junction at the Wey navigation with a footbridge over the Wey. Though that’s not part of the Saturn Trail, this guide includes a short cycle along the Wey towpath, from Byfleet to the south.

That stretch of towpath along the Wey is not tarred, but is wide and generally in good condition – the National Trust, owners of that canal, usually keep vegetation in check. The trail finishes to the west at Sheets Heath just before the Deepcut flight of locks. Do remember that towpaths are shared, and that pedestrians have priority.

The information and photos for this guide was supplied by Andy On A Boat. As ever, all errors are mine alone.

Surface

The towpath is surfaced by smooth tar with a fine sandy coloured aggregate surface dressing. Generally 1.2m wide, but there are narrower sections, usually at bridges. Now over 11 years old, the surface has worn well, although it is beginning to erode in places. The trail has been patched in some places, particularly to the western half.

Bikes

Most types of bikes can use this route. As is the case for most towpath routes, trikes and most cargo bikes will probably not be able to use this route.

See also  Cambridge Guided Busway

Toilets

Facilities, including public toilets, are available at Woking. A café boat operates at Woking wharf (outside WWF HQ) Tuesday to Sunday. Public toilets are also available at West Byfleet station during ticket office hours. A water tap is available with a CRT watermate key at Bridge Barn Woking.

Points of Interest

The Deepcut locks are quite scenic.

Other Routes in Hampshire

Barriers

At Scotland Bridge, about a mile from the start, there is a chicane with wooden fencing. It’s wide and does not impede normal cycles, though trikes, cargo bikes, bikes with trailers or tandems will probably struggle.

At the very start there are more metal chicane barriers.

A particular hazard are “Dog Dips” where dogs access the canal causing erosion (see photo) so if pulling over on the water side be on the look out as they can be obscured by vegetation.

Ratings

Safety: ⭐⭐
Hilliness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐⭐
Barriers: ⭐⭐
Surface: ⭐⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐

The grading system I use is explained here.

Forecast for the Basingstoke Canal

What it looks like

CafeBoatWoking
DogDip
Endat-SheetsHeath
NewrovingbridgeWoking
RoadsectionBrookwood
Scotland-Bridge-Chicane
SignsatBridges
SurfaceErosion
Typicalscene
Wey-footbridge
Wey-Navigation-towpath
previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow
Shadow

More Routes

To find more routes, click this link.


DayCycle

DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.

See also  Taff Trail traffic-free cycle route

3 thoughts on “Basingstoke Canal – Saturn Trail”

  1. I’ve ridden primarily the Woking to new haw sections of this route.

    While the woking side is paved, it turns more into track once you get more towards the New Haw section. It can become muddy during wet weather.

    The sections can be busy, particularly at the weekend. It’s a shared pedestrian / cycle zone with most sections narrow, and it is potentially difficult to pass pedestrians and or dogs. As with most shared cycle routes, this suits a slower leisure cyclist, especially with moderately capable children. (You’d want enough control over the bike to avoid the canal…)

    Reply
  2. I regularly use this route (especially West of Woking). Agree with Steve’s comments above.

    For those wanting to go a little faster there are some tweaks you can make to the route including:
    1. Use virtually car free St John’s Lye Road (from St Johns west). This takes you off a particularly busy/narrow bit of tow path.
    2. Use the shared use pavement (very few pedestrians) from Hermitage Road/Brookwood Lye Road down to Brookwood rejoining the canal at the A322. This is slightly shorter than the tow path and avoids having to cycle on the road to rejoin the towpath.

    Looking at the route as described, a couple of cautions:
    1. At the Hermitage Road/Brookwood Lye Road junction, you HAVE to cycle across the bridge and approx 50m on a (not super friendly) bit of road to rejoin the towpath as it switches side – this might be an issue with small children but there is a pavement on one side of the road. (Note you MUST change sides of the canal here as the southern towpath is blocked to cyclists.)
    2. The route above shows the use of the road to approach St Johns, and use of a cycle path along Lockfield Road – in both cases cyclists CAN stay on the towpath throughout although both those segments can be busy with pedestrians and I see why the rider chose those diversions.

    At the Eastern end, the last “breakout point” is Camphill Road or Birchwood Road to access West Byfleet station.

    At the river Wey junction (under the M25) there’s no way to get back onto the road directly. The route shown goes south. I prefer heading north along the river Wey towpath into Weybridge where (with a small amount of road cycling) you can connect with the Thames towpath.

    Reply

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