The Wey Navigation - connects with the River Thames at Shepperton

Researched, photographed and written by Jeannette Briggs

The Wey Navigation was originally constructed in 1653 to transport goods from Guildford and Godalming to Weybridge and on to London and is thus one of the oldest canals on the entire network. It is about 20 miles long overall. The canal owners were efficient and – unlike a lot of other canals in the south east of England – they managed to continue to make money even after the railways were built.



Above: View of the Wey Navigation at Send - photo courtesy J Briggs

 Above: The Wey Navigation near Send Marsh- Swans line astern - photo by J Briggs

The waterway is properly called "The Wey Navigation" popularly known locally as the Wey Navigation Canal by the people who actually live in Send and Ripley, two of the attractive villages which are close to the canal!

Above:  Narrowboat moored at Send - complete with magnificent collection of painted lanterns - photo by J Briggs Above: The Wey Navigation at Pyrford - young anglers by The Anchor pub.  Photo courtesy J Briggs

The canal was taken over by the National Trust in 1968, is financially self-supporting and managed and protected by the Trust. It survives as a recreational asset and a living piece of industrial archeology. Regular users will know but all those taking canal boat holidays will also need to pay the prevailing charges to the National Trust in advance of their journeys.

Today visitors to the Wey Navigation can escape the hustle and bustle of the commuter towns all around it and wander the towpaths to enjoy the magnificent scenery that surrounds the canal. For much of its length the route of the navigation channel follows the River Wey, and meanders through pastures with grazing cows, sheep and huge old willow trees. My favourite section of the canal is from Pyrford through to Send – the only caveat to enjoyment here is the (sometimes) close proximity to some large bulls in the fields!   It has lots of attraction for anglers of all ages - we watched some youngsters patiently trying their luck in the Wey Navigatiion at Pyrford on a beautiful Autumn day.

Above:Young angler at Pyrford- photo by JB                           

 Above:Locking through at Milmead Lock - photo courtesy J Briggs  

In wintertime the towpath can get a bit muddy and rutted – but for me this just adds to the enjoyment of this canal. Several sections of the canal can be reached by car and the National Trust has provided small car parks along its length.

You can also reach several delightful pubs for refreshment. Try The Anchor at Pyrford Lock, which provides real ale on its riverside terrace and conservatory, as well as excellent canal boat moorings for visitors. Another favourite canalside pub is The New Inn at Send, which has moorings.


 Above:Boat on Wey Navigation at Guildford- Photo courtesy J  Briggs

Above: The Anchor Pub and Pyrford Lock- photo by J Briggs

The Wey Navigation also passes through the centre of the historic old town of Guildford.  It winds past the famous theatre through a beautiful park and above Millmead Lock you can go on day trips along this stretch of the canal on a purpose built canal boat. It passes several interesting old pubs and delightful scenery.

Above: The Wey Navigation through a park at Guildford -photo by J Briggs Above: The Wey Navigation passing the Theatre at Guildford- photo courtesy J Briggs 

The Wey Navigation joins the River Thames below Shepperton Lock. From here you can easily walk into Weybridge for essential items such as bread and milk. A worthwhile part of your canal boat holidays will be visiting Godalming which is the head of navigation, 19 miles from the Thames. A towpath extends alongside the canal for almost the entire length.

A narrowboat nearing journey's end in Guildford as it approaches the quiet moorings next to a pub... photo by JB

The head of navigation is Godalming and you can see a plaque on a wall at the wharf to prove it. The Wey Navigation is delightful and well worth the effort to navigate it - and the extra cost for the National Trust licence.