WHAT could be more pleasant than a gentle paddle along the Basingstoke Canal in and around Woking?

More people are having the same idea, with a significant increase in unpowered boats on the water as exercise is taken closer to home.

Canoeists, rowers and paddleboarders are all welcome,  although a licence, costing £3 per day per craft from the Basingstoke Canal Authority, is required. Weekly and annual licences are also available, with all fees going towards supporting and preserving the canal.

“Learning to paddle can be a very rewarding experience, with plenty of local waterways to explore and three local canoe clubs based on the Basingstoke Canal,” said Richard Kelly, speaking on behalf of the Basingstoke Canal Authority.

“What better way to learn a new skill in a safe environment and get great exercise? If you want to paddle far and wide we would recommend joining British Canoeing, whose licence will also cover use of the Basingstoke Canal, the River Wey and most other inland waterways.

“Although unpowered boats cannot use the locks, the craft can easily be carried around them.

“The message is, get out on the water and find a hidden Woking. There is so much wildlife to see at close range and just get away from it all.

“Do remember, though, to contact the Basingstoke Canal Authority first. You will receive safety advice with the licence, and you’ll need to carry the licence with you.

“And, of course, the most important point: stay safe and always wear a buoyancy aid.”

To buy a licence, contact the Basingstoke Canal Authority on 01252 370073, or visit the Basingstoke Canal section of the Hampshire County Council website, www.hants.gov.uk.