Coloured pigs (part four)

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Speak Slowly

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William I (1066-87)

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Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey
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Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey

With a functional name like Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre campsite, you might guess that this is an efficiently run, no-nonsense sort of operation that tells it how it is.You might also deduce that there's a canal nearby - the Basingstoke Canal runs along one edge of the site, mostly hidden behind trees but appearing at one corner along with a cute black-and-white swing bridge and narrowboats moored up for photo opportunities.This is the gateway to 32 miles of towpath on a beautiful British waterway offering cycling, walking, fishing, and boating.

The canal isn't the only means of transport in evidence around here: a railway runs along the far side of the canal; the occasional small aircraft buzzes overhead en route to nearby Farnborough Airport; and there's the faint swoosh of traffic noise, but not enough to drown out the warbling jays or the laughing ducks. This might not be 'proper' countryside camping, attached as it is to Farnborough s outskirts, but it is a lovely canalside location and thanks to its transport connections you could board a train in London and be camping here-less than an hour later. Commuter camping, no less.

Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey

COOL FACTOR Camping a la canal, barely half an hour from London.

WHO'S IN? Tents, caravans, motorhomes, dogs (on leads), groups (up to 3 tents) - yes.

ON SITE Unmarked pitches across a grassy 6 acres. A small kids' playground, hot showers, disabled/baby-changing room, (both a bit of a distance from the campsite), and a Tea Room (open daily). Fishing permits and boat trips are available at the visitor centre. No hook-ups. No campfires.

OFF SITE The main attraction is the canat, with 32 miles of towpath to explore; maps at reception. For a change of pace, scream the day away at Thorpe Park (www.thorpepark.com).

FOOD AND DRINK The Swan (01252 325212) at Ash Vale has all you need from a pub: good food, local ales, old oak beams, exposed brickwork, log fires, and a warm welcome.

GETTING THERE Follow the A331 towards Farnham. Take the Mytchett turning and follow the Canal Visitor Centre signs.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to either Farnborough or AshVale, then a 5-minute taxi ride (£6).

OPEN All year (booking essential in summer).

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 people £8 per night; caravans/motorhomes/trailer tents £9.50; extra person £1.50.
A deposit is required when booking.

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