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Report (Permission Visit) Standedge Canal Tunnel by boat 2009

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by canalwheeler, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. canalwheeler

    canalwheeler 28DL Member
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    I won't give a historical preamble here as it has all been done on previous Standedge threads. But I don't think there is a documented passage through the canal tunnel by boat on this site. So here goes.

    My boat, Dreamcatcher, was steered through the tunnel by my good friend Martin Clark who runs the excellent Pennine waterways Website Pennine Waterways - Canals of the South Pennines - UK canal information, history, photographs, virtual cruise

    Although he was involved in the restoration of the Huddersfield canals and had been through the tunnel twice before, he had never steered a boat through. At that time I was severely disabled, and as he had helped me through nearly all the Huddersfield locks, as a reward I handed him the tiller. He did well, only clouting one overhang, which is pretty good compared with the experience of others.

    British Waterways, as was (now Canal & River Trust), insist on one of their staff being on board each boat that passes through the tunnel. The cabin top must be cleared of anything high such as chimneys. Canvas cratch covers are wound off the front corners of the cabin top as this is where the boat might hit a projection. Hard hats and life-jackets must be worn (though the water is only about 4ft deep at most).

    It is by no means a straight passage. Apart from a slight chicane in the middle, the boat has to be wriggled around several rocky projections. Of course the longer the boat the harder this is. We were 57ft, which wasn't too bad.

    The passage took 50 minutes.

    A tunnel light on the front of the boat is of course compulsory, but we also had a hand-held 12v searchlight on the back of the boat, that showed up the tunnel features and enabled some hand-held photography:

    HPIM2855.jpg
    Waiting in the rain to enter at Diggle


    HPIM2856.jpg
    Reinforced concrete cover, where the railway crosses


    HPIM2857.jpg
    Then into brick lined sections....


    HPIM2858.jpg
    .....that keep changing profile...


    HPIM2859.jpg
    .... again and again.....


    HPIM2860.jpg
    ... and again


    HPIM2861.jpg
    A BW van accompanied us on the parallel old railway tunnel, connected by these passageways.


    HPIM2862.jpg
    Rock faced sections. Varying profiles and projections. Very beautiful in places


    HPIM2863.jpg
    Our guide knew what kind of rock each section had been hewn out of


    HPIM2865.jpg
    Imagine the work that went into hacking all of this out of solid rock by hand. Drill markings can be seen in some places


    HPIM2867.jpg
    Projections needed steering around


    HPIM2871.jpg
    Another cross-passage


    HPIM2872.jpg
    Concrete lining


    HPIM2873.jpg
    We asked the BW guide what this old beam was for. He said they don't know, so they left it there just in case!


    HPIM2874.jpg
    Another cross-passage. The van driver shouted, "You OK?" We were.


    HPIM2876.jpg
    A spectacular rock lined section. A geologists dream?

    HPIM2878.jpg
    The active railway line above and to our left. Sometimes trains can be seen passing.

    HPIM2879.jpg
    Ladder to another cross-passage


    HPIM2881.jpg
    More brick-lined profiles


    HPIM2890.jpg
    Rock to be avoided.... almost!


    HPIM2892.jpg
    The light at the end of the tunnel


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    Power cables above


    HPIM2894.jpg
    A low bit


    HPIM2895.jpg
    Nearly there


    HPIM2896.jpg
    Well done Martin! Steered all the way through with only a couple of minor touches, and paint is sacrificial, especially on Dreamcatcher.


    HPIM2899.jpg
    Tunnel end. Its not raining this side..... and then to the pub. Good job well done. Cheers Martin.


    Hope you enjoyed the (entirely legal) trip.

    Tone
     

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  2. captainweird

    captainweird 28DL Full Member
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    Nice pics, really interesting. Funny, I was reading Terry Darlington's "Narrow Dog To Wigan Pier" where he describes going through the tunnel, he kept crashing the boat and had to let his wife steer.

    Phil
     
  3. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Edited as requested.

    I don't understand the bit about the van?

    Or this...

    HPIM2871.jpg
     
  4. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    I think I just worked out the picture from Fudge's report...

     
  5. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    This might explain it OT

    standedge_map.jpg

    Basically two dis-used train tunnels run parallel to the right of the canal tunnel, hence the van driving through


    The pic you queried is one of the connecting drainage tunnels

    On the left of the canal tunnel is a live rail line which still runs today
     
  6. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    I want to go there.
     
  7. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    And why 3 railway tunnels?
     
  8. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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  9. canalwheeler

    canalwheeler 28DL Member
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    Canal & River Trust do run boat trips through the tunnel. The next is 18th August, and another is on 30th August:

    Through Trip

    Tone
     
  10. canalwheeler

    canalwheeler 28DL Member
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    The answers already given are correct. I think the greatest fear is the possibility of a boat fire and how they would deal with it, hence opening up the 1848 rail tunnel for emergency vehicles.

    Tone
     
  11. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
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    Kayak trips available all year round, OT ;)
     
  12. Leeds(Ex)plorer

    Leeds(Ex)plorer 28DL Regular User
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    I have 2 inflatable dinghy's.. :thumb
     
  13. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
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    interesting place, canal crossed by rail + a river
     
  14. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
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    Canal tunnel is the highest, deepest and longest in the UK. And the cost of travelling the 3 mile tunnel from Marsden to Greenfield via train is the most expensive bit of track in the country... about £8 for that journey.
     
  15. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
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    I like this place, I want to go here: Everybody reading this, send me some money please.
    ----
    Legging through the tunnel, horses over the hill
     
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