The Three Castles Path is a long distance route that commences on the Thames near Windsor Castle and ends at the third fortress in Winchester. Walkers may witness the second (or middle) castle at Odiham whilst meandering along the Basingstoke canal. This is the canal, constructed during the eighteenth century, that links the Wey navigation with Basingstoke. Most of the waterway is intact and there was recent evidence of dredging, the path narrowed by mounds of mud on the side. Yet, the limit of navigation is reached soon after the castle and the canal flows away into a blocked tunnel at Greywell, an anticlimactic end behind a screen of trees and ferns.
The path commences through a series of historic Hampshire villages and via a set of lakes on the leg from Crowthorne. However, the flooding did take its toll and we had to take a short detour to avoid an impromptu river. Many of the village cemeteries held more gravestones of servicemen than I recall seeing on other walks. Perhaps this is a local feature; perhaps not.
The view of Odiham Castle, now a picaresque ruin, is short. Built as a castle for King John, this mediaeval stronghold is now a walled shadow. It is hard to believe that this also formed a site for Parliament. The castle is a good stopping point for photos since it stands only a little way from the path. However, the stop is short and once you are back on the road, the canal is shortly replaced by good tracks and some field walks.
The route does not go to Basingstoke so a further two miles can be factored in via the footpath near Backwood house to reach the town. Despite the dogleg, this was a pleasant parkland walk and reinforced the notion that the Three Castles path aims for the posher parts of the south-east.