Itchen Navigation Project

Itchen Navigation by Ali MorseItchen Navigation by Ali Morse

This multi award winning project to conserve the remarkable Itchen Navigation benefited threatened wildlife as well as walkers, and ensured that the Navigation will survive for many years to come. 

The Itchen Navigation was created to carry freight such as chalk and timber from the port of Southampton to the city of Winchester and was operated until the advent of the railways. Over many years of disuse, the banks, locks, towpath and sluices were in need of repair to prevent a catastrophic collapse, which could have threatened wildlife and limited access to the area. Today, project volunteers help landowners and others to maintain this special site.

Project objectives

Living Wetlands Award

Waterways Renaissance Award

This major project involved a number of initiatives, including repairing the crumbling banks and eroded footpath, restoring the degraded wildlife habitats, and increasing awareness of the Navigation’s unique qualities.

You can read more about the project's aims in our Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project Leaflet, and about the work carried out in the Itchen Navigation Project pamphlet.


The chalk stream characteristics of the Itchen Navigation have ensured its designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The crystal-clear waters provide a habitat for a huge variety of wildlife, including many rare species. It's home to beautiful aquatic plants, rare insects, abundant trout and salmon, kingfishers, water voles, brook lamprey, grey wagtail, little grebe, moorhen, warblers, reed bunting and otters.

We have been working closely with other organisations and alongside landowners and fishing clubs to secure the future of Itchen Navigation and its wildlife.



Activities and adventures...

You can walk the entire length of the Navigation (17km) thanks to the footpath (the Itchen Way) which runs alongside it. Fishing is also popular at Winchester and Southampton. The Navigation is easily accessible by public transport

Try one of our circular walks or download a story walk to entertain younger walkers along the route. Volunteer storytellers can lead guided walks at Allbrook and Mansbridge for school and youth groups.

We also have a range of education resources designed to help Key Stage 2 teachers

Please note: The footpaths along the Itchen Navigation are maintained by Hampshire County Council. Public footpaths may need to be closed when damaged by weather or vandalism in order to ensure that users are not put at risk. Before visiting, you can check HCC’s Rights of Way mapping for current information – zoom in and click on the relevant footpath (purple) or bridleway (green), where any known problems or footpath closures will be shown under ‘info’. 

You can help...

Walking along the Itchen Navigation Walk the improved paths along the Navigation to appreciate the area’s stunning wildlife, and see the habitat enhancements undertaken through the project.

You can also become a member of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Your membership funds the creation of bigger, better and more joined-up habitats like the Itchen Navigation.

Hampshire County Council and Southampton City Council are responsible for maintenance of the Itchen Way footpath. Please contact them with any rights of way issues. 


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Frequently Asked Questions about the Itchen Navigation193.97 KB