Itchen Navigation: A Portrait

Withymead Lock - Bishopstoke

Distance: 0.7 mile (1.2 km)

Withymead Lock to Barton Bay

Just below Withymead Lock, the Navigation enters the main river and, for about half a mile, the two share a common course. Several sharp bends below Withymead would have made navigation difficult with a horse-drawn barge, particularly when the river levels were high and currents strong. Indeed from the few contemporary pictures showing barges on the Navigation, it would seem that two horses, one behind the other, were used for towing.

Lengths of this part of the Navigation now have an amount of tree growth and the open aspect that is so evident in the 1931 and 1976 photographs of Barton Bay (see below) has now largely gone. This growth of trees and bushes along the river started when the towing path north of Barton Bay was fenced off from the adjacent meadows in the 1980s. This has meant that livestock in the meadows can no longer graze on the young saplings and other vegetation near the side of the river before they become established as larger plants.

For those interested in the way that the water meadows used to be drowned (or flooded) in late winter, there is a paper entitled “Bishopstoke Water Meadows” written by Mr R G Morris who was one of the last drowners in the Bishopstoke area. This may be found on the website of Eastleigh & District Local History Society.

Below Withymead Lock
Below Withymead Lock

Looking upstream just below the tail of Withymead Lock. The Navigation is on the right of this picture.
Image date: 3 May 2014. © 2014 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU461202. WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

Below Withymead Lock

Looking upstream just below the tail of Withymead Lock. The Navigation is on the right of this picture.
Image date: 3 May 2014.
NG Ref: SU461202.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

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Water meadows
Water meadows

Water meadows south of Withymead Lock.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU461202. WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

Water meadows

Water meadows south of Withymead Lock.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU461202.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

(57.0KB)

Downstream of the lock
Downstream of the lock

The approach to Withymead Lock from downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU461202. WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

Downstream of the lock

The approach to Withymead Lock from downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU461202.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 46″ N 1° 20′ 39″ W.

(94.0KB)

The Navigation joins the river
The Navigation joins the river

The junction of the Navigation with the main river below Withymead Lock.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU461201. WGS84: 50° 58′ 45″ N 1° 20′ 36″ W.

The Navigation joins the river

The junction of the Navigation with the main river below Withymead Lock.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU461201.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 45″ N 1° 20′ 36″ W.

(49.9KB)

Diverted junction
Diverted junction

The original junction of the Navigation and the main river has now been diverted by the mud bank from which this picture was taken. The new junction and the lock are hidden by the trees growing on the mud bank.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU461201. WGS84: 50° 58′ 45″ N 1° 20′ 36″ W.

Diverted junction

The original junction of the Navigation and the main river has now been diverted by the mud bank from which this picture was taken.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU461201.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 45″ N 1° 20′ 36″ W.

(66.2KB)

The main river
The main river

Between Withymead and Barton Bay, the Navigation used the main and only channel of the River Itchen.
Image date: 25 Sep 2009. © 2010 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU462201. WGS84: 50° 58′ 42″ N 1° 20′ 32″ W.

The main river

Between Withymead and Barton Bay, the Navigation used the only channel of the River Itchen.
Image date: 25 Sep 2009.
NG Ref: SU462201.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 42″ N 1° 20′ 32″ W.

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‘Dog Dip’
‘Dog Dip’

‘Dog Dips’ were installed along the Navigation in an attempt to prevent erosion of the bank by dogs scambling out of the water, but many seem to prefer to do so beside the Dip.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU462200. WGS84: 50° 58′ 42″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

‘Dog Dip’

‘Dog Dips’ were installed along the Navigation in an attempt to prevent erosion of the bank by dogs scambling out of the water.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU462200.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 42″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

(53.4KB)

Sharp bends
Sharp bends

Sharp bends in the main river below Withymead Lock.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU462200. WGS84: 50° 58′ 40″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

Sharp bends

Sharp bends in the main river below Withymead Lock.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU462200.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 40″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

(98.2KB)

Looking downstream
Looking downstream

Looking downstream above Barton Bay.
Image date: 30 Mar 2012. © Chris Wimbush (cc-by-sa/2.0). Image from www.geograph.org.uk. NG Ref: SU462198. WGS84: 50° 58′ 35″ N 1° 20′ 32″ W.

Looking downstream

Looking downstream above Barton Bay.
Image date: 30 Mar 2012.
NG Ref: SU462198.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 35″ N 1° 20′ 32″ W.

(84.0KB)

Looking upstream 1976
Looking upstream 1976

A view upstream on the main river from north of Barton Bay.
Image date: 28 May 1976. © 2019 Peter Oates. Image scanned from print of now lost slide. NG Ref: SU462197. WGS84: 50° 58′ 32″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

Looking upstream 1976

A view upstream on the main river from north of Barton Bay.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU462197.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 32″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

(83.1KB)

Looking upstream 2017
Looking upstream 2017

A view upstream on the main river from north of Barton Bay. Image taken within a few yards of the previous picture.
Image date: 8 Nov 2017. © 2017 Keith Murray (cc-by-nc-nd/2.0). Image from www.flickr.com. NG Ref: SU462197. WGS84: 50° 58′ 32″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

Looking upstream 2017

A view upstream on the main river from north of Barton Bay.
Image date: 8 Nov 2017.
NG Ref: SU462197.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 32″ N 1° 20′ 33″ W.

(76.8KB)

Barton Bay to Stoke Lock

As Bishopstoke is approached, the Barton River (a side stream of the Itchen) leaves through a set of modern sluices over which the footpath passes at point formerly known as Barton Bay. Barton Hatches were used to control water supplies used to power Barton Peveril Mill (often known as just Barton Mill) which once stood next to the Bishopstoke Road opposite Chickenhall Lane.

In less than 300 yards, the Navigation leaves the main river at a much silted and overgrown junction and after another 150 yards the remains of Stoke Lock are reached.

Barton Bay in 1931
Barton Bay in 1931

Barton Bay from downstream.
Image date: 1931. Image source unknown. NG Ref: SU463196. WGS84: 50° 58′ 28″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

Barton Bay in 1931

Barton Bay from downstream.
Image date: 1931.
NG Ref: SU463196.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 28″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

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Barton Bay in 1976
Barton Bay in 1976

Barton Bay from downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463196. WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

Barton Bay in 1976

Barton Bay from downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU463196.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

(56.7KB)

Barton Bay in 2015
Barton Bay in 2015

Barton Bay and Hatches.
Image date: 21 Apr 2015. © 2015 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU463196. WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

Barton Bay in 2015

Barton Bay and Hatches.
Image date: 21 Apr 2015.
NG Ref: SU463196.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

(110.9KB)

High river levels
High river levels

Barton Bay - when river levels rise the path can get wet.
Image date: 18 Mar 2013. © Shazz (cc-by-sa/2.0). Image from www.geograph.org.uk. NG Ref: SU463196. WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

High river levels

Barton Bay - when river levels rise the path can get wet.
Image date: 18 Mar 2013.
NG Ref: SU463196.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 29″ N 1° 20′ 31″ W.

(132.9KB)

Houses with a view
Houses with a view

South of Barton Bay, a number of houses overlook the river.
Image date: 18 Mar 2013. © Shazz (cc-by-sa/2.0). Image from www.geograph.org.uk. NG Ref: SU463195. WGS84: 50° 58′ 25″ N 1° 20′ 27″ W.

Houses with a view

South of Barton Bay, a number of houses overlook the river.
Image date: 18 Mar 2013.
NG Ref: SU463195.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 25″ N 1° 20′ 27″ W.

(118.9KB)

Culvert under the path
Culvert under the path

This drain, passing under the towing path just north of the canal junction, once fed part of the water meadow system west of the Navigation before conversion to playing fields.
Image date: 30 Jun 2013. © 2013. Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU464194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 23″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Culvert under the path

This drain, passing under the towing path just north of the canal junction, once fed part of the water meadow system west of the Navigation before conversion to playing fields.
Image date: 30 Jun 2013.
NG Ref: SU464194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 23″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(122.0KB)

Junction of Stoke Lock cut
Junction of Stoke Lock cut

The junction of the River Itchen and the canal leading to Stoke Lock is almost obstructed by a mud bank on which these trees are growing.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 22″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Junction of Stoke Lock cut

The junction of the River Itchen and the canal leading to Stoke Lock is almost obstructed by a mud bank.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU464194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 22″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(87.4KB)

Junction of Stoke Lock cut
Junction of Stoke Lock cut

The length of canal from Stoke Lock runs due north to meet the main river. However, today the last 30 yards have been diverted south-eastwards by the mud bank, seen here looking north-eastwards.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 21″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Junction of Stoke Lock cut

The length of canal from Stoke Lock runs due north to meet the main river. However, today the last 30 yards have been diverted south-eastwards by the mud bank.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU463194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 21″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(70.5KB)

Bridged breach
Bridged breach

Just a few yards south of the junction, this breach in the towing path bank has not been mended but spanned by a small footbridge. However, the water will fairly quickly erode more of the bank and lead to more of the river pouring through an enlarged breach.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 21″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Bridged breach

This breach in the towing path bank has not been mended but spanned by a small footbridge.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU463194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 21″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(86.8KB)

Path to Bishopstoke village c1911
Path to Bishopstoke village c1911

The canal above Stoke Lock seen from the towing path with the path to Bishopstoke, accessed across Stoke Lock, turning away from the waterway.
Image date: c1911. Image from postcard. NG Ref: SU464194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 20″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Path to Bishopstoke village c1911

Seen from the towing path is the path to Bishopstoke, accessed across Stoke Lock, turning away from the waterway.
Image date: c1911.
NG Ref: SU464194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 20″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(99.9KB)

Path to Bishopstoke village 2019
Path to Bishopstoke village 2019

Over 100 years later, the path to Bishopstoke, accessed across Stoke Lock, turns away from the waterway.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464194. WGS84: 50° 58′ 20″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Path to Bishopstoke village 2019

Over 100 years later, the path to Bishopstoke, accessed across Stoke Lock, turns away from the waterway.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU464194.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 20″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(71.4KB)

Stoke Lock

This lock has suffered from a lot of piecemeal brickwork, concrete and steel piling over the years. A set of sluices has been inserted at the head of the lock and in the 1990s a fish pass was also added on the east side.

A footbridge over the tail of the lock carries a public footpath into the centre of Bishopstoke.

Head of Stoke Lock
Head of Stoke Lock

Stoke Lock seen from the footpath on the east side of the Navigation.
Image date: c1905. Image from postcard posted 3 Jan 1907. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Head of Stoke Lock

Stoke Lock seen from the footpath on the east side of the Navigation.
Image date: c1905.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(79.5KB)

Head of Stoke Lock
Head of Stoke Lock

Sluices at the head of Stoke Lock.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Head of Stoke Lock

Sluices at the head of Stoke Lock.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(96.6KB)

Head of Stoke Lock
Head of Stoke Lock

Sluices at the head of Stoke Lock with a new fish pass on the right.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Head of Stoke Lock

Sluices at the head of Stoke Lock with a new fish pass on the right.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(104.5KB)

Head of Stoke Lock
Head of Stoke Lock

The head of Stoke Lock with the recently erected two metre high fence. 100 years ago a post and rail fence seemed to be sufficient!
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Head of Stoke Lock

The head of Stoke Lock with the recently erected two metre high fence.
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(84.0KB)

Chamber of Stoke Lock
Chamber of Stoke Lock

Chamber of Stoke Lock looking downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Chamber of Stoke Lock

Chamber of Stoke Lock looking downstream.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(105.5KB)

Chamber of Stoke Lock
Chamber of Stoke Lock

Chamber of Stoke Lock looking downstream.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Chamber of Stoke Lock

Chamber of Stoke Lock looking downstream.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU464193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(126.9KB)

Footbridge at Stoke Lock
Footbridge at Stoke Lock

An old footbridge across the tail of Stoke Lock seen from downstream. Replaced by 2003, this bridge looks like the one shown in older pictures (see below).
Image date: Autumn 1975. Image scanned from negative. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Footbridge at Stoke Lock

An old footbridge across the tail of Stoke Lock seen from downstream.
Image date: Autumn 1975.
NG Ref: SU463193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(98.3KB)

Tail of Stoke Lock
Tail of Stoke Lock

A newer footbridge across the tail of Stoke Lock seen from downstream.
Image date: 8 Nov 2017. © 2017 Keith Murray (cc-by-nc-nd/2.0). Image from www.flickr.com. NG Ref: SU463193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Tail of Stoke Lock

A newer footbridge across the tail of Stoke Lock seen from downstream.
Image date: 8 Nov 2017.
NG Ref: SU463193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(121.4KB)

Stoke Lock to Bishopstoke Road

The stretch of waterway south of the lock is very shallow, the towing path is tarmaced and the bank protected with brick walling. Locally, this stretch is still known as the Barge River and the adjoining footway as the Barge Path. Overhanging branches seem to have been a feature of this length of waterway for at least the last 100 years.

There once was a wharf at Bishopstoke but no trace remains; indeed its precise location is not known.

Stoke Bridge carries the Eastleigh to Bishopstoke road over the Navigation. This bridge was built in about 1904 to replace the previous one when the road these two places was re-aligned. A car park for the adjacent playing fields (and available to walkers) lies on the west side of the waterway. Please note that at certain times charges are payable - check on the Parkopedia website.

There are several pubs nearby: a Toby Carvery is the nearest about 300 yards to the east of Stoke Bridge; the Anglers Inn can be reached in less than 400 yards by crossing the canal at Stoke Lock, following the footpath and turning right when the road is reached; a new pub, the Steam Town Brew Co, has recently opened quarter of a mile west of Stoke Bridge.

Looking south from Stoke Lock
Looking south from Stoke Lock

The “Barge Path” looking south from beside the tail of Stoke Lock.
Image date: 30 Jun 2013. © 2013 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU463193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Looking south from Stoke Lock

The “Barge Path” looking south from beside the tail of Stoke Lock.
Image date: 30 Jun 2013.
NG Ref: SU463193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 18″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(98.4KB)

New “milestone”
New “milestone”

One of the four new “milestones” installed by the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project near the footbridge over the lock.
Image date: 3 May 2014. © 2014 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU463193. WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

New “milestone”

One of the four new “milestones” installed by the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project near the footbridge over the lock.
Image date: 3 May 2014.
NG Ref: SU463193.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 17″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(86.8KB)

Below Stoke Lock before 1914
Below Stoke Lock before 1914

The “Barge Path” looking upstream from below Stoke Lock with the footbridge across the lock tail visible.
Image date: Pre-1914. Image from postcard. NG Ref: SU464192. WGS84: 50° 58′ 14″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

Below Stoke Lock before 1914

The “Barge Path” looking upstream from below Stoke Lock with the footbridge across the lock tail visible.
Image date: Pre-1914.
NG Ref: SU464192.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 14″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(81.7KB)

“Barge Path”
“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream in the dry summer of 1976. The tail of the lock is almost obscured by tree branches.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2010 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463192. WGS84: 50° 58′ 15″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream in the dry summer of 1976. The tail of the lock is almost obscured by tree branches.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU463192.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 15″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(102.9KB)

“Barge Path”
“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream with higher water levels. Only just enough trimming of the fallen tree was done for walkers!
Image date: 16 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU463192. WGS84: 50° 58′ 15″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream with higher water levels. Only just enough trimming of the fallen tree was done for walkers!
Image date: 16 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU463192.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 15″ N 1° 20′ 26″ W.

(90.5KB)

“Barge Path”
“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream from near Stoke Bridge.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464191. WGS84: 50° 58′ 13″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

“Barge Path”

The “Barge Path” looking upstream from near Stoke Bridge.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU464191.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 13″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(137.5KB)

Stoke Bridge
Stoke Bridge

Stoke Bridge from upstream.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU464191. WGS84: 50° 58′ 13″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

Stoke Bridge

Stoke Bridge from upstream.
Image date: 15 Oct 2003.
NG Ref: SU464191.
WGS84: 50° 58′ 13″ N 1° 20′ 25″ W.

(125.6KB)

A number of the pictures on this page are shown by kind permission of Marie Keates. A keen walker, she has written about and illustrated several attempts to walk the full length of the Navigation during 2013 in her blog at http://www.iwalkalone.co.uk. She has walked along all or parts of the Navigation often since then: all illustrated with some excellent photographs.