From the site of Hockley crossroads, going south, two routes are available to the walker:
Route 1 via Twyford Lane End Lock
This option follows the old line of the Navigation fairly closely but part runs alongside a busy road. This is the official route of the Itchen Way. At the traffic lights pass under the motorway by means of the bridge, following the right hand side of the road (B3335) towards Twyford. On the west side of the road some 100 yards from the motorway bridge, the southern end of the long culvert under the motorway interchange can be seen emerging into the canal bed. After about another 40 yards, the old towing path can be rejoined opposite the entrance to Hockley Golf Course.
Within a few yards of the road, the path passes over an old culvert that was once used to flood part of the water meadows south of here. Beyond the culvert, the remains of the next lock, Twyford Lane End Lock or ‘Lock No 2’, are soon encountered on the right.
Twyford Lane End Lock is near what was probably considered to be the end of Twyford Lane from Winchester even though we are not in Twyford village. Just a few yards south of the lock is a toll cottage (and formerly a toll gate) erected by the ‘Lower St Cross, Mill Lane to Park Gate Turnpike Trust’. Twyford Lane from Winchester would have toll-free but south of here a toll would have been payable to use the turnpike road.
This turf-sided lock is fairly overgrown and it is difficult to see a great deal despite some clearance and renovation work in 2011 as part of the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project. During this work a date of 1749 was found in the brickwork. This is a report (3.08MB) together with photographs about the work done on the lock during the project.
A dilapidated wooden bridge crosses the lock in the position once occupied by the bottom gates.
The main River Itchen is reached in another 100 yards where the second route rejoins at the modern footbridge. This section of waterway used to be narrow, being hemmed in by a luxuriant growth of reeds on either side, but the channel between was quite deep. Now that so little water, if any, now passes along the Navigation from St Catherine Lock, the canal is almost completely silted up.
Route 2 via the main River Itchen
At the traffic lights, cross the road and then, instead of passing under the motorway, turn right following the tarmac path along the A3090 road for about 50 yards towards but not crossing the River Itchen. Bear left down a path leaving the road to pass under the motorway along the east (nearest) bank of the main River Itchen. This new section of footpath was created during construction of the M3 when part of the river was diverted between Hockley Viaduct and the junction of the former route of the Navigation with the main river. The former route of the Navigation will be rejoined about 200 yards from the M3 at a modern footbridge.
Meeting of routes to Tumbling Bay
Before the construction of the motorway, there used to be a plank bridge across the canal at its junction with the main river used by fishermen to gain access to what was considered very good fishing. The building of the M3 saw the river re-routed and a much bigger footbridge replacing the plank bridge.
The main river and the Navigation now share a common course in a southerly direction. This section of waterway towards Shawford flows through lovely open countryside although noise from the motorway can intrude at times.
Much of the flood plain meadows on both sides of the Navigation south of the M3 to downstream of Compton Lock have been accorded protected status: either as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Much of the meadows east of the Navigation are owned and managed as a nature reserve by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT).
South to Tumbling Bay
The path along this next section of the Navigation used to become impassable in times of high flow in the river during the winter. The path had become eroded and water sometimes overflowed the path. During the summer, it had become increasingly difficult to walk along the path between the junction and Tumbling Bay. Before the 1980s the much of the path ran along the course of the original towing path on top of the bank. However, a fence was erected very close or, in places, even on that path. Subsequently, vegetation, including bushes and even trees, had become established along here, protected by the barbed wire fence. The result was that, in places, walkers had to resort to walking along the side of the towing path bank almost in the river. In winter, passage could be quite difficult with higher water levels.
In 2011, as part of the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project, the bank and path were repaired. In order to minimise the impact of this work, a monorail system was employed. More details about this can be found in the next section of this description.
After several hundred yards, at Tumbling Bay, a set of hatches (as sluices are known locally) are used to control water levels in the Navigation and in the Twyford Drain (which is NOT considered to be the main channel of the river). This leaves to flow along the eastern side of the valley near Twyford and past Hockley Mill. It was possible to see the remains of the concrete foundations for the old hatches a few yards to the south of the new sluices until recently but these seem to now be obscured
In 1863, these hatches were referred to in a report as “Willow Mead Hatches”.