We are now on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal after cruising down Marple Locks and leaving the Peak Forest Canal. Our last blog ended with us at Roaches Lock and visiting Mossley. Our next mooring is at Uppermill.
We loved the bustling village of Uppermill, although the mooring is quite dark and shaded with all the trees. We were moored next to a car park and it was a great spot for people watching! There are some very nice pubs and walks around here and on the whole we really enjoyed our stay.
After a couple of nights here we then cruised to Diggle, where we went through the amazing Standedge Tunnel.
Our cruise today was 1.5 miles today and did 11 locks. The Diggle flight of locks is the final approach to Standedge Tunnel and was the last set of locks to be built on The Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We went on a lovely walk up Lark Hill and although it was really windy, the views were fabulous.
We recovered in the local pub called The Gate Inn and then went to Diggle Chippy across the road. The fish and chips were absolutely delicious – we highly recommend it.
Standedge Tunnel is the longest canal tunnel in Britain at just over 3 miles long. it is also the highest above sea level and the deepest (638ft below Saddleworth Moor). It is absolutely amazing. Paul loved it too but it is a lot harder if you are the driver because of the concentration level needed. A volunteer comes on board with you to help guide you through and tell you when the twists and turns, and the low bits are coming up – and they are a wealth of information. The chaperone gets off the boat as you progress through the tunnel to report the position.
The tunnel was the last part of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to open and admitted its first boats in 1811. – 16 years after work had started. There are actually 4 tunnels under the hill – 2 derelict single-track railway, one canal and one double-track railway and all the tunnels are interlinked. The tunnel changes all the way through – from brick, to concrete, to bare rock. Steel mesh, girders and bolts hold it together If you want to watch a brilliant and informative vlog of a narrowboat journey through the Standedge Tunnel then head to You Tube, go to the Foxes Afloat channel and watch vlog number 69.
Here’s a few of my photos.
You emerge from the tunnel to Marsden, where there is a visitor centre. This is the base for the trip boats that run into the tunnel. We only stayed at Marsden for one night, although in hindsight we could have stayed longer as the River Calder was in flood at the end of the Huddersfield Broad Canal so we had plenty of time – hindsight is a wonderful thing though! We did, however, have time to visit a very nice pub called the Riverhead Brewery Tap.
Although we only had a quick look around Marsden it did look like a lovely little town and would be well worth a visit if you are on this canal.
The following day we cruised for just 2 miles – but did 19 locks! The last lock was a guillotine lock and it was a nightmare – could not get the bloody gates open!
It took ages and once more we ended up mooring up in the dark and went through the last couple of locks in Slaithwaite the next day. It rained non-stop today and was probably my worst day so far – I really didn’t enjoy it!
Slawit (as pronounced by the locals) is lovely. The canal runs right through the centre of the town and the mooring just below the village is great. Lock 22 Cafe does a very nice full english breakfast and The Commercial has very good real ale!
There are lots of nice shops too – I just never seem to go shopping much these days apart from food shopping!
From Slawit we cruised 6 miles (23 locks) to just before the first lock of the Huddersfield Broad Canal. The rain has been relentless and it didn’t make for a great day cruising again! However, a highlight of today was that our friends Nige and Tracey came to see us. They bought us blackberry vodka, lemon drizzle cake and strawberry jam – all home made and absolutely delicious. In return we let them help us through some locks – sorry guys – it was Paul’s fault! Bloody lovely to see you both!
When we got to Huddersfield there was no spaces left to moor at Aspley Wharf so although we really wanted to stop, we had to keep going a bit further. We stayed here for a couple of nights and walked back into Huddersfield to do some shopping and have a look around.
This canal has been quite a challenge – the relentless rain didn’t really help though. We now just had 9 more locks on the Huddersfield Broad Canal to do, but the River Calder is still in flood so we won’t be going any further just yet. I was a little anxious about these locks as they are shorter locks (57ft 6in) and Hang Loose is 58ft. However, although we had to go in diagonally it was fine.
Since just before Standedge Tunnel we have been in contact with a narrow boater (Bob) who is stuck at the end of the Huddersfield Broad canal. He has been really helpful and has given us some great tips about places to visit, good chippy’s etc and as we reached the last lock of the day on the Broad he and Rosemary walked up to help us down. It was great to meet them and their lovely two dogs on their narrowboat Sefton.
Our plan was to turn right to Leeds but the River is in flood most of the way there so we changed our plans and will turn left instead!
So that’s that canal done and we have mostly enjoyed it. The highlight of the trip was definitely the Standedge Tunnel and it’s definitely worth doing. 20 miles and 74 locks is hard work but it was worth it. Now we are definitely in need of a little rest now though. We were at this mooring for three nights before the river went down enough for us to leave but it was a lovely spot and we found a brilliant chicken shop – apparently famous around these parts.