Welcome to the beautiful Blackwater Valley, bordering Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. It runs over 35 km from the river’s source at Rowhill near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield.
The Valley has a surprisingly varied landscape, rich in wildlife. The shallow river floodplain contains many lakes and wet meadows created by many years of quarrying, set amidst extensive heathlands and woodlands.
History of the Valley
The Blackwater Valley has a rich and ancient history. Centuries of human impact have left an indelible footprint shaping the local character, landscape and wildlife.
The rights of way network itself is probably the biggest item of heritage - you can literally follow in the footsteps of your ancestors. Prehistoric tracks cross the dry heathlands, Roman highways ford the river, medieval routes used by Tudor kings, or the network of local tracks heading across from fields to church: all are still in use today.
Over the past 60 years gravel extraction and urban expansion caused major changes to the landscape. It’s 40 years since the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, and more recently, we at the Trust, started to transform the Valley from a mess to what it is today, restoring gravel pits and rubbish dumps, creating lakes, meadows and woodlands.
Take a look at some of the work that went on in the early years - much has changed even since this video was made.
Walking in the Valley
Rail to Trail
It's easy to explore the 23 mile wildlife corridor of our Valley by train! That's the principle behind our Rail to Trail project – to show just how accessible the Blackwater Valley is by train and how easy it is for people to explore by combining the Blackwater path and the rail network. Watch this space!
As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.