Itchen Navigation: Heritage Trail Project

The 5 year project, run by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to conserve the Itchen Navigation, started in 2007 and was completed in December 2012. The Trust worked in partnership with a number of bodies: Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment Agency, Natural England, Hampshire County Council, Winchester City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Southampton City Council and the Inland Waterways Association. The work achieved by the project has benefited walkers and wildlife, and helped to ensure that the Navigation survives into the future.

Details of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and its work can found on their website. This website used to have information about the Itchen Navigation project. During 2018, changes to the website seem to have removed all information about the Navigation.

As the project reached its conclusion, the Wildlife Trust published a pamphlet summarising the work achieved during the project. This publication used to appear on the Trust's website but no longer. However, a copy can be read here (opens in a new window/tab - size 3.88MB).

As part of the project, the Wildlife Trust established a volunteer body, the Friends of the Itchen Navigation, to help maintain the Navigation. Further details might be obtainable from the Trust but again all references to the Navigation and the Friends have disappeared from their website.

In 2007 the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust issued the following Press Release about the Navigation:


Heritage Lottery Funded HIOWWT logo


Hampshire Wins the Lottery With £1.6million Windfall

People across Hampshire have reason to smile today as the Heritage Lottery Fund announces a grant of £1.6million to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

The Trust has been awarded the money to preserve the Itchen Navigation in a five year project that will create a heritage trail celebrating the outstanding wildlife and history of the internationally renowned chalk river system. The project will take in the areas of Eastleigh, Southampton and Winchester and seeks to involve members of the community in conservation and social activities.

The project is being managed by the Trust on behalf of a wider partnership of the Environment Agency, Winchester City Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, Natural England and the Inland Waterways Association.

As well as stabilising and restoring the Itchen Navigation riverbanks, work will create new trails for incorporating informative and eye-catching information boards so that visitors can identify the many wildlife species and historic industrial structures around them. Visitors will be encouraged to look out for water voles in the specially profiled banks along the river and for birds and bats will be encouraged using special installation boxes. Volunteers will be carrying out preservation work on Mansbridge Lock to interpret and celebrate the industrial history of the Navigation. Water voles, otters, and a variety of fish including brown trout and southern damselfly, are expected to flourish due to conservation along the Navigation. The Trust is looking to train volunteers from local communities to undertake surveys of a range of wildlife species including otters, bats, birds and plants.

A series of activities and events are being planned along the Navigation such as exhibitions at City Mill, Winchester and Riverside Park, Southampton, community art workshops, and conservation training for volunteers.

Sheena Vick, HLF South East Manager said, "This is a great project which will benefit people across the whole Itchen Navigation area. The Navigation is a unique piece of heritage with both natural and industrial elements side by side. Today's news will enable the general public to explore the history they have on right their doorstep."

Leah Mathias, Itchen Navigation Project Manager for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said, "We are delighted to have received this grant for what is a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve the Itchen Navigation. The Navigation has the highest form of protection for wildlife in the UK because it is part of a European Special Area of Conservation. It is also a fantastic example of Hampshire's industrial heritage. We are looking forward to working with the project partners and local residents to ensure wildlife will continue to thrive here and that we celebrate our industrial heritage".

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact:

Sam G, Heritage Lottery Fund Press Office, on: 020 7591 6036, email:; website:

Leah Mathias, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Itchen Navigation Project Manager, on 01489 774415, email:; website: Itchen Navigation HeritageTrail Project.

The Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail project is being led by the Trust on behalf of a partnership including the Environment Agency who have also pledged £400,000 to the scheme, Winchester City Council who have committed £50,000, Eastleigh Borough Council with a commitment of £20,000, and Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, Natural England and the Inland Waterways Association who are all providing work in kind.

The Heritage Lottery funded Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project comprises 10.5 miles of Itchen Navigation and footpath, running from Blackbridge Wharf in Winchester through Allbrook and Eastleigh through to Woodmill in Southampton. The Navigation runs through rural areas and through or close to three sizeable conurbations; Winchester, Eastleigh and Southampton.

This project aims to conserve the Itchen Navigation and create a heritage trail that celebrates its wildlife, history and value to people and secure the future of the Navigation as part of the internationally important Itchen system whilst acknowledging and interpreting its heritage and providing appropriate access to local people.

The Itchen Navigation forms part of the River Itchen Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive. This offers it the highest form of protection for wildlife in the UK. European protected species found in the Itchen Navigation include southern damselfly, otter, brook lamprey, bullhead and Atlantic salmon. Other species found include water vole, kingfisher, grey wagtail, grayling and brown trout.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy. We have supported more than 15,000 projects, allocating over £3 billion across the UK.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is the leading wildlife charity in the counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and is part of a nationwide network of 47 local charities. We work together to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in the UK. With the support of our 27, 000 members, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust is taking effective action to protect our natural heritage, helping it to flourish again. Find out more at the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project website.