With stunning scenery, a rich history and canal boat cruises for all the family, the Wey & Arun Canal spanning Surrey and West Sussex has something for everyone.
The 23-mile canal opened to great fanfare in 1816, linking the Wey Navigation near Guildford to the south coast via the Arun Navigation. Conceived during the Napoleonic Wars, the canal was intended to provide a safe, efficient route from London to Portsmouth to carry goods supplying the dockyards. In its heyday, the canal did carry many tons of cargo but the end of the war with France, and the arrival of the railways, sounded the death knell for the Wey & Arun as a business, and by 1871 it was formally closed.
Today more than 3,000 Wey & Arun Canal Trust members and volunteers are working to re-open London’s lost route to the sea for leisure and the canal now offers many miles of towpaths for walking, cycling and horseriding, and a waterway that welcomes paddleboarders, kayakers and canoeists.
The Wey & Arun Canal Trust operates canal boat cruises from the wharf at Loxwood in West Sussex, where its Canal Centre offers information on the canal and its history, walking routes and other local attractions. A regular timetable of canal boat cruises runs at weekends and midweek from April, along with a programme of special events such as Cream Tea cruises, musical evenings and Santa Trips (see website for details and bookings). Private trips can also be arranged.
The Trust also manages Hunt Nature Park at Shalford, where wheelchair-friendly boardwalks and viewing platforms offer a place to spot the varied wildlife here.
For more information on the Trust, to book a boat trip, buy gift vouchers or to become a member, go to www.weyandarun.co.uk.