Itchen Navigation: Description
Tumbling Bay - Shawford

Distance: 0.8 mile


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The Navigation continues in a southerly direction through water meadows. These fields were once quite open but increasingly trees and bushes are growing up in places and beginning to obscure the view. Whilst, the surroundings are still very pleasant, this tree growth is altering the character of the waterway and the valley. It is pleasing that much of this part of the Navigation is not fenced off from the adjacent meadows. Thirty or more years ago considerable lengths of the waterway were similarly unfenced and a distinctive feature of the Itchen Navigation.

There are a number of instances where the channels used to flood the meadows can be clearly seen and the remains of the hatches used to control the abstraction of water from the Navigation can be examined. A section of these meadows to the north of Compton Lock, known as Twyford Meads, is owned by Twyford Parish Council and they carry out maintenance and have done some restoration to part of the area. The Meads are open to visitors at all times, access being on foot only from the Navigation or from the village. Further information may be obtained from Chris Corcoran on 01962 712951.

About 2¼ miles from Blackbridge Wharf, the third lock is encountered: Compton Lock which is occasionally called Compton Place or Twyford Lock. The waterway is weired at the head of the lock and a footbridge crosses the Navigation at the tail of the lock where the bottom gates once hung. In between, erosion has made the turf-sided chamber almost circular although old mapping shows the sides were once straight. Bank protection has been added to the towing path side to prevent further erosion. This lock is a popular swimming pool and picnic spot in the summer.

South of Compton Lock, low density residential development on the west bank with large, attractive gardens and grazing land on the east bank make this another pleasant reach.

Recently (in 2009), improvements have been made to parts of the path as part of the work done by the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project. A small fence has been put up between the path and the water's edge to protect newly planted vegetation from passing feet. Let's hope that the intended removal of this fence once the plants are established is not forgotten.

Shortly before Shawford Mill is reached, the millstream leaves the Navigation under an iron footbridge. The present mill building dates from 1795 and has recently been renovated. Recently the towing path between the footbridge and Shawford Bridge has been rebuilt as part of the work done by the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project. Previously, this length of path was badly eroded and was becoming increasingly difficult to walk.

The Bridge public house lies on the opposite bank of the waterway by Shawford Bridge. Shawford railway station is very close by.


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Text © Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2010.
Pictures © Peter Oates 2003 - 2010. Pictures on or accessed through this page may not be reproduced without the express permission of the Web Site manager.

Original page covering St Catherine Lock to Shawford created 11 June 1999 - split into two pages 10 April 2003 - picture gallery created 13 April 2003 - description and pictures combined and expanded with new layout 22 January 2010 - content updated 22 January 2010.


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