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Report - Greywell Canal Tunnel (Eastern Portal), Basingstoke, Hampshire – July 2016

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with @Oort, who didn’t actually enter the water as he’s a bit more sensible than me. Anyways after swimming the Sapperton Canal Tunnel last year, I thought it would be a good idea to give myself a second dose of hypothermia and repeat the foolish stunt.

    The 1125m long Greywell Tunnel was opened in 1794 and was the longest tunnel on the Basingstoke Canal and the 12th longest canal tunnel in the UK. It was closed in 1932 due to a roof fall.

    HISTORY

    The Basingstoke Canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1778. The route was 44 miles long running from Basingstoke to the Wey and Godalming Navigations near Weybridge. Originally the canal was planned to loop around Greywell Hill. However Earl Tylney who owned the land around these parts objected to the planned route and so after a bit of a rethink and this tunnel was built instead.

    The canal opened in September 1794, but sections of the bank soon collapsed and parts of the canal were temporary closed in 1795. Flaws in the construction of the tunnel were quickly identified.

    Trade on the canal was never as intensive as predicted, and several companies running the canal ended up bankrupt. The last commercial passage through the tunnel was probably in 1914 by the barge Basingstoke owned by Mr A J Harmsworth. The tunnel was closed in 1932 when part of the roof collapsed. Canoeists were still able to pass through the tunnel until the 1950s, but the blockage is now total.

    Today the tunnel is open for 800m at its eastern end and for 140m at its western end. The 180m in between is completely filled with soft clay.

    The Basingstoke Canal itself has been restored since the 1970s and has now been reopened for a distance of 32 miles. The length of the canal around the Greywell Tunnel remains disused.

    REPORT

    Photos were all taken handheld without a tripod, whilst standing in water up to my chest and whilst shivering uncontrollably. So apologies for the photos not being too good.

    The canal here is neglected and overgrown
    01_zps2jlrzxvu.jpg

    Here we see the portal
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    This gate prevents boat entry. I guess with a bit of effort a small dingy could be got in but it was a warm day and I needed to cool off
    04_zpscriacslr.jpg

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    Inside the tunnel was brick lined all the way through, and distances from the portal were marked on the wall, measured in feet
    07_zpsp6jitzlv.jpg

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    About 2500ft in we see the roof fall
    19_zpsdngaacz9.jpg

    It was possible to land on the beach, but you couldn’t walk far
    20_zps0x32eh7n.jpg

    The portal 2500ft away
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    Time to make my exit. Apparently my shivering could be heard long before I reached the exit
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    The joys of hypothermia
    28_zpsionyntbt.jpg

    Thanks for reading
     

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  2. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Worth a look Bertie :thumb
     
    Keynsham and Dingoes Ate My Baby like this.
  3. UrbanZ

    UrbanZ 28DL Regular User
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    That looks cold but fun, good going ​
     
    Minor likes this.
  4. Oort

    Oort The Spice Must Flow.
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    You got some great shots there Bertie! particularly considering the circumstances.

    For me it was less about being sensible and more a case of not bringing the right kit, my chest waders were woefully insufficient and I would like to apologise to Mrs. B. for unnecessarily putting bumps in her wet suit where there shouldn't be any!

    Luckily I managed to steal Berties camera off him so no pictures of that horror exist.
     
  5. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    You have posted this twice ?
     
  6. Oort

    Oort The Spice Must Flow.
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    Each portal is a separate report as they were so different.
     
  7. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Ah I see, how come mixed public/NP is that an error on your part, seems odd otherwise ?
     
  8. Wheaters

    Wheaters 28DL Full Member
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    Thanks for posting. I used to live in Odiham (22 years ago now) and walked/ran past there many times, although it's a bit sad to see how overgrown it's become. There's supposed to be one of the largest UK colonies of bats in the tunnel and some chap used to stand outside with a listening device, counting them in and out.

    The water is so clear because there are chalk springs bubbling up from below, just outside the tunnel entrance.

    You obviously didn't encounter the very large pike I used to see nearby in the canal, towards King John's castle. My dog was a collie cross and one day he stood parallel to the canal, nose down sniffing something. The pike was right next to him and was longer than the dog, including his tail!

    My son, then aged about five, caught a five and a half pound Bream in that stretch, too. He still remembers it well and he's now just coming up to his thirty first birthday!
     
  9. Oort

    Oort The Spice Must Flow.
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    I think its the other end that has the bats, its all (properly) gated off with no access.
     
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