Debdale Photo Gallery

Huddersfield Narrow Canal Album

Huddersfield Narrow Canal

In June 2016 Debdale moved from Aston Marina to Sowerby Bridge. As part of that move she crossed the Peninnes by way of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Standedge Tunnel.

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The Huddersfield Narrow Canal runs from Ashton-under-Lyne on the outskirts of Manchester to Huddersfield. We started in Ashton-under-Lyne by tunnelling under the Asda store and its car park! - Location: Ashton-under-Lyne - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The first few miles of the HNC (Huddersfield Narrow Canal) are not exactly scenic but there is quite a bit of interest. Notably this narrows that was once the Whitelands Tunnel just above Lock 1W. - Location: Ashton-Under-Lyne - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Canada geese with goslings had taken over the towpath by Lock 2W. NB whilst the locks are counted to and from the tunnel with Lock 1W in Ashton-under-Lyne and Lock 1E in Huddersfield it seems that the bridges are numbered from Huddersfield to Ashton. - Location: Ashton-under-Lyne - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Although this is nothing like the larger version in Wales this aqueduct over the River Tame has the distinction of being one of the earliest cast iron troughs in the country. - Location: Ashton-under-Lyne - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Once through Stalybridge the character of the canal changes completely. No more industrial decay and you are out in the countryside. This Lock 9W is just a mile or so above Stalybridge and 22 locks below the summit. - Location: Stalybridge - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow This is Lock 12W showing the truly rural nature of the canal now. It stays this rural pretty much all the way to the outskirts of Huddersfield. - Location: Mossley Entering Lock 14W at Mossley. This canal gets very little traffic as only 18 boats a week can transit the Standedge Tunnel (thats both ways!). As a result the locks are filled and emptied quite infrequently and so plants get a chance of a foothold. - Location: Mossley - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow We were lucky to travel this canal in June when the trees and plants are at their best. In particular there were several notable stands of yellow iris. Our crew for the stretch from Stalybridge to the Diggle summit actually walked all the way as the gap between locks was never more than a few hundred yards. For a little-used canal the towpath was good. - Location: Mossley - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The Royal George Aqueduct over the River Tame was a challenge as it is quite shallow and narrow which left little space for water to flow past the boat. It took about 10 minutes to get across on tick-over! - Location: Royal George Aqueduct - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Friezland. Here you can see the characteristic local weavers cottages and the high bleak moorland above. - Location: Friezland - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 21W in Uppermill is approached through a surprisingly long tunnel which goes diagonally under the main road. This side is countryside whereas the other side is in the hubbub of a small town. - Location: Uppermil - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The road widening at Lock 21W which made the tunnel longer also meant that there was no room for a full balance beam on one side so that gate is opened by winding a capstan which operates the gate. (Debdale is down in the lock somewhere! All the locks on the HNC were deep). - Location: Uppermill - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow At Lock 23W the Saddleworth railway viaduct strides above a road bridge, the lock and an aqueduct over the River Tame! The road bridge is actually beneath the viaduct itself. - Location: Dobcross - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The last nine locks up to the summit are in the Diggle Flight. These are tough and on some locks the ground paddles are very hard work indeed and ideally need two people, each using a windlass on each paddle! Some of the pounds leak and are short of water - especially as you come up thus taking a lock full of water out of the short pound. I was lucky to clear the top cill on my way out here but I heard it touch the underside of the boat. Note the characteristic HNC splayed-sides footbridge. - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The Diggle Flight is unusual both for its slanted paddles that can be very hard to operate, but also for its single bottom gates. The tough paddles are actually quite large and fully opening them when filling the lock creates a lot of turbulence which is aggravated by the flat bottom gate which reflects the turbulence. A pair of gates form a mitre which deflects and weakens the the rush of water flowing in from the top paddles. - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The pound below Diggle top lock was especially short of water and I came up here very carefully staying strictly in the middle! The next boat along here got too close to the edge and stuck fast! It took two strong men pulling a rope from the opposite bank to get him off. - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow We arrived at the Standedge Tunnel portal at Diggle on Wednesday afternoon and had to wait until Friday to continue through the tunnel. Tunnel passage needs to be booked at least a week ahead and ideally further ahead in the Summer. Only three boats can go through the tunnel each way on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (max 18 boats per week) as each requires a CRT person at the stern complete with a load of safety equipment. If you get the chance walk the short distance to Diggle and catch the bus over the top to Marsden, and back, as it is quite a climb and brings home just how formidable the barrier of Saddleworth Moor is. - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Diggle portal of the Standedge Tunnel with its very fetching gate design. The previous photo was taken from the top of the portal. Frequent (mainly two-carriage, local) trains pass through the hill in their own tunnels and run alongside the canal here. On the left side of the portal are CRT boat services, including that useful fresh water so that a boat can fill up its water tank and so be low down in the water, ready for the tunnel passage! - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow After almost two hours underground, passing by rock, stonework and brickwork in a very narrow space, we emerge into the sunlight at Marsden. The Standedge Tunnel is amazing - it is over 3 miles long and more wiggly than you might think. It is the highest, deepest and longest canal tunnel in the UK. See YouTube for Debdale\'s passage. - Location: Diggle - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow This is the tunnel portal at Marsden and here you can get an idea of the amount of rock above the tunnel - and that is not all of it! The building houses a cafe with the tunnel end of the building being the CRT nerve centre for both the tunnel and the local area. All CRT staff we met were impressively ultra safety-conscious and helpful. A nearby building houses an interesting free CRT exhibition. - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow We moored for the night at Marsden just above lock 42E (NB locks are now designated E for east and count down to Huddersfield). We woke up the next morning to find that the water level had dropped eight inches and we were solidly aground. Apparently the last boater through the lock had not fully closed a paddle and since the lock leaks all that water had run away. It took ten hours to refill the pound which stretches for over 4 miles from Diggle top lock through the tunnel to Marsden. That was with the feeder channels up on the hill running at full bore!  - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Once through Lock 42E the locks came thick and fast. It is just 8 miles to Huddesfield but there are 42 locks! There is a special procedure here to manage the water. You need to fill the next lock before you empty the lock that you are in. That way the lower lock draws off a lock full of water thus making space for the lock full of water you are about to empty into the pound. Failure to do this will cause flooding in some properties by the canal! These lock beams bear a notable well-maintained Blue Peter emblem ever since the lock featured in a programme. - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 36E is fairly typical of the Marsden locks. You can usually see at least the next lock in each direction. - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Below Lock 33E the canal runs between Sparth canal storage reservoir (left) and the mill pond for Cellars Clough Mill. This is below the main Marsden flight and the locks are a little less close together. The HNC water was often a peaty-brown colour. - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow We moored for the night at Lock 31E. On any other canal it would be very bad form to spend the night on the lock moorings but here there is so little traffic and so few places to moor that this is accepted - and indeed CRT staff advised this as a suitable overnight mooring! Just as well as the rain began once we had arrived. We investigated the chalk board of items for sale, anticipating jams and fresh veg, but no, the canalside house was selling plants! As the towpath was well used by walkers, cyclists etc perhaps this was a thriving business. Tomorrow we will complete our journey to Huddersfield and do 31 locks in 10 hours! - Location: Marsden - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Despite having the word narrow in its name we found that the HNC was never overly weedy or with problem vegetation. Nevertheless in this photo Debdale seems to be floating in greenery as it is hard here to see the water! This is just below Lock 28E. - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow After passing through the Standedge Tunnel we had too book our passage through Lock 24E as CRT keep this guillotine gate padlocked as only they are allowed to operate it. Watching two CRT chaps taking it in turns to wind the gate up by hand I am rather glad we did not have to do that! - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Debdale just below Lock 24E (note guillotine in the distance) where there is a lovely line of renovated old canalside buildings which include a bakery, various small businesses, beautifully kept houses and gardens plus Upper Mill Brewery. Despite the name this is actually in Slaithewaite and not to be confused with Uppermills which is a village on the other side of Saddleworth! Whatever the name it was good to see thriving enterprises and this area brought back to useful life. - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 23E takes the prize for Most Verdant Lock Gate on the HNC! (and this is just one gate!). - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Both gates - they really are amazingly overgrown with happy herbage and ought to win some kind of prize!  - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Slaithewaite is the only town that the canal goes directly through on this side of the canal. The way is both low and narrow although it does widen out further along and there are visitor moorings and CRT services just above the lock. Mind Your Head! - Location: Slaithewaite - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Below Lock 13E. We are starting to get close to Huddersfield and below this lock the scenery is less bucolic and more urban. Note the canal sides - there is nowhere for informal mooring, nothing to hook or chain-up to, and not enough ground for stakes and ropes. Some occasional mooring rings would have been welcome, if only for the mid-morning coffee or lunch breaks. - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 9E - getting down amongst the mills of Huddersfield where the building on the left has been cleaned and renovated for housing use. Son Martin wields the windlass as we head for the mooring space beyond the lock for a well-earned lunch.  - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 5E is directly after an aqueduct over the River Colne and below another high railway viaduct which trains photogenically clattered over as soon as the camera was put away! - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow There is quite a sharp turn as you exit lock 5E as you go under the viaduct. The turn is complicated by quite a vigorous bywash! - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow This very modern and beautifully-maintained lock (3E) at the equally modern Kirklees College is actually not a narrow lock at all but is at least 12 feet wide! I have not been able to find out why as the locks on both side are standard 7ft locks. It is essential to pick up your crew at the landing below the lock as there is no towpath access to Lock 2E and you can only get it by boat! - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow Lock 2E is so rarely filled that we noted these daisy-like flowers happily blooming on the inside of the top gate! We watched fascinated as the lock filled and submerged the whole plant, but once the lock had drained there they were again, only a tad bedraggled. Quite extraordinary. This lock cannot be accessed on foot at all and you can only get there by boat! - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow The current Lock 2E is nowadays a few hundred yards away from the original lock site, and the current pound is rather lower than it used to be. These horizontal beams are in place to ensure the walls are kept apart! Ooer! - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow This is the remains of the old Lock 2E. The lock chamber remains just as it was but with no gates. Almost spooky. - Location: Huddersfield - Canal: Huddersfield Narrow