Part of the Canal with Mature Oak trees
Basingstoke Canal and Butterwood
Male Purple Emperor
Male Brown Argus
Light Green Emerald Moth
Main ride in Butterwood
The Purple Emperor is found all along the Basingstoke Canal and in Butterwood. Although most of Butterwood is private so entering the wood you have to obey the signs, but you should not be disappointed.
From Basingstoke, the canal passes through or near Greywell, North Warnborough, Odiham, Dogmersfield, Fleet, Farnborough Airfield, Aldershot, Mytchett, Brookwood, Knaphill and Woking. Its eastern end is at Byfleet, where it connects to the Wey Navigation. This, in turn, leads to the River Thames at Weybridge. Its intended purpose was to allow boats to travel from the docks in East London to Basingstoke.
It was never a commercial success and, from 1950, lack of maintenance allowed the canal to become increasingly derelict. After many years of neglect, restoration commenced in 1977 and on 10 May 1991 the canal was reopened as a fully navigable waterway from the River Wey to almost as far as the Greywell Tunnel. However its usage is currently still limited by low water supply and conservation issues.
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Two sections of the canal totalling 101.3 hectares (250 acres) are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Nature Conservation Review site. These are the main length between Greywell and Brookwood Lye and a short stretch between Monument Bridge and Scotland Bridge in Woking. It is the most botanically rich aquatic area in England and flora include the nationally scarce hairlike pondweed and the nationally scarce tasteless water-pepper. The site is also nationally important for its invertebrates. There are 24 species of dragonfly and other species include two nationally rare Red Data Book insects.
From the midpoint heading east large areas of heathland surrounds the canal which are habitats for reptilian species, such as vipers and lizards, and birds such as nightjars, woodlarks and Dartford warblers. Much of this heath survives today due to its use since the late 19th century as military training areas.
Wych Elm leaves
ButterWood is a 133-hectare (330-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) east of Basingstoke in Hampshire. Part of Up Nately LNR, which is designated a Local Nature Reserve, is in the SSSI.
This site is mainly deciduous woodland with a diverse geology and structure. Most of it is former wood pasture, with many glades and broad bridleways, and there are also several copses which were managed as coppice with standards. Fauna include a rich Lepidoptera, including 25 species of butterfly.
Mating pair of Gatekeepers
Grass snake in the Basingstoke Canal
Common male Darter Dragonfly