Dittons Paddle Boarding

St David’s Day Paddle

By Ed Milnes

1 March 2020

After nearly a month of wet and windy weekends, we finally had one that was just a bit windy – but also sunny! 6 of were keen to get out again and find our sea(canal) legs again.

After a slightly delayed start (note to self – always check if it is meeting time or launch time that has been agreed!) we set off from the Basingstoke Canal Authority Centre near Mytchett, heading west into the wind.

It was a bit breezy but that is all good practice, and nothing like the previous few weeks. The sun was finally starting to feel a bit warmer too. The red flags were up on the shooting range and a few loud reports were heard!

During a short stop and rest in the large basin near Ash Vale train station we were surrounded by tandem race kayaks from a nearby school club – plenty of room for everyone though.

Setting off again we paddled on to the Aquaduct next to the Lakeside nature reserve (and across the A331 near Ash). We stopped there for a drink and to snack on some excellent homemade energy bites made by Claire and Alex (the recipe is available if you ask them nicely!!)

Then we headed back to the Canal Centre – with the wind mostly on our backs we made good paddling time. Strangely halfway there we came across a bat flittering around by itself, and an interested (and very big) Red Kite circling overhead. We did not hang about to witness the final outcome of that drama.

This is a great ‘go-to’ paddle that is interesting and never feels as long as 10k. Also no locks needing to be walked past (yay!). The Basingstoke Canal generally is a great winter paddle because it never seems to be flowing fast (in fact there is hardly any flow at all) – water quality actually seems to be better in the winter too, and it is quite sheltered most of the time.

Total distance – just over 10k – total time approx. 2.5 hrs
Falling ins – 0
Wildlife spotted – Bat, Kite, Swan, Dogs (multiple), Ducks
Snacks eaten – Yes, excellent ones.
Photos by Claire Turner and Ed Milnes

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