Twyford, Itchen

  • IMG_3373

Deep, lined pool above footbridge and below hatch. 2m deep. Very clear, clean, though some concrete in bottom. Natural river stretch directly upstream (1m deep).

Place Categories: River Swims and Wild Swim.Place Tags: current, paddle, plunge and wildswimming.

Jim Champion says:

This location is Shawford Lock, on the Itchen Navigation (former canal) which runs to the west of the ‘proper’ River Itchen. There are some broad wooden steps down into the lock, visible in the main photo above (at the south-east corner of the lock), and if you enter the water here the final step down is about thigh-high. It is also possible to scramble out on the bank on the south-west side of the lock. River flows quickly under the small footbridge (at the downstream end of the lock) and just below this small footbridge there are a few wooden steps in the east bank. Ostensibly the steps are there for dogs to get out easily and reduce ‘bank erosion’. In summary: getting out is pretty easy, and its only really deep around the sluice area.

Water is very clear, the odd bit of plant debris comes shooting through the sluice. Busy on hot summer days, not so the rest of the time. Dark at night (obviously) and constant (but not overwhelming loud) noise from the nearby M3, plus passing trains on the mainline and planes coming in to land at Southampton Airport.

Nearest village is Shawford, which has a train station (on the Southampton-Winchester line) bus service, pub and various places where you can park a car or van. To walk from Shawford you head north along the Itchen Way footpath, which follows the eastern bank of the Itchen Navigation. You can also follow the lane that heads north (between the railway arch over the road at Shawford and the pub): it eventually becomes a footpath (with the railway embankment on the left), turn right when you get to the white-painted metal barrier across the path and the footpath will bring you to the west side of the lock. Distance: from Shawford railway station to the lock is about half a mile.

Alternative: From the village of Twyford, possible to park on Berry Lane next to Twyford Church. Follow Berry Lane down to the bridge over the River Itchen (one of Twyford’s original two fords) follow the footpath fork to the right across the water meadows which will bring you to the east side of the lock. Just before the lock, in the water meadow, there is a preserved stream that is reasonable for small children to play in. Distance: from Twyford Church to lock is about half a mile.

Another alternative: There are large lay-bys on either side of the Hockley Link Road (A3090), between the M3 motorway and the former railway viaduct (in the region of the complicated Junction 11 of the M3). Note that Winchester City Council have now put a (3 hour?) limit on parking here. Head south along the Itchen Way footpath (on the east side of the river), past “Tumbling Bay” where the Itchen Navigation splits off from the River Itchen (Environment Agency say “no swimming” here). Keep going south until you arrive at the lock. Distance: from layby to lock is just under a mile.

The attached photo shows the view looking downstream from the middle of the lock (standing up!).

Jim says:

Sorry, missed the edit window of opportunity. The location is not called Shawford Lock on the Ordnance Survey map, it is called Compton Lock. Compton is the village to the west of the lock, now separated from it by the M3 motorway and the railway line. Twyford and Shawford villages are closer to the lock, so it probably also gets called Shawford Lock and Twyford Lock.

Annabel Huffer says:

hello, is this place difficult to find? Its just that I would like to take a few friends here, as a small party, but im not entirely sure how easy it is to find. Many thanks

I’ve been coming down to the loch now at least once for a week for the past 3 months to swim. I’ve always loved swimming but hated swimming pools. It started off as just heading down for a walk to clear my mind, happening to be wearing my boar-dies and jumping in. I decided there and then to keep it up at least once a week even through the winter. It gets pretty bracing if there has been a frost in the morning but every time it feels great. The metaphorical washing away of the weeks troubles when I pop down on a Sunday morning is liberating. I’ve had the loch to myself for the past 3 months except once. I’m making the most of it through the winter as it does get very busy in the summer as I can attest from not too long ago when I was one of the teenagers practising my flips and aerial acrobatics jumping in.

Phill says:

Assuming this is Shawford Loch (which I think it is) this is a great day out with the kids – plenty of open space and the water is great – for the more adventurous grab a dingy (or a paddling pool as we saw some students using!), start at the motorway bridge and float all the way down!

Clive says:

A beautiful spot! Park at the Church and enjoy the 5 minute walk to the river, across the fields. If the water is deep enough you can practise your flips into the pool directly below the gate/hatch. Can get very busy on a sunny day (very busy) but it is a lovely spot with a lovely deep pool, so persevere and show off your aerial skills.

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