The day had finally arrived for our passage through The Standedge Tunnel which is the deepest ,longest and highest tunnel in the UK . We had been told that our passage through wouldn’t be until 11.30 as boats from the East always comes through first. But we were surprised to get a phone call just after 08.00 from Canal and River Trust to say that there were no boats coming through from Marsden in the East so could we be ready to go in an hour.
The Crt guys arrived just after 09.00 and proceeded to measure every part of Inca . They did our air draught our beam our depth and anything else they could think of . We had already removed our cratch cover and rear cover . The Solar panels had been dropped down and we were ready to go.
You are not allowed to go through the tunnel by yourself and have to have a Canal and River Trust employee on board with you . They are not Pilots but are called Chaperones . I guess that ever anything went wrong you wouldn’t have any comeback on the trust. Anyway our Chaperone was Terry (on the left) and a new guy who he was training. Terry said that he had been through the tunnel over a thousand times.
There are in fact 4 tunnels at Standedge with one being the canal and the other 3 railway although only one railway tunnel is now used.
The canal tunnel which was completed in 1841 is only wide enough for one narrowboat for much of its length and to save on cost, as in some other canal tunnels in England, a tow-path was not provided in the tunnel. As canal boats were horse-drawn, the boats had to be legged through the tunnel – a process where one or more boatmen lay on the cargo and pushed against the roof or walls of the tunnel with their legs. Professional leggers were paid one Shilling and six Pence for working a boat through the tunnel which took one hour and twenty minutes for an empty boat and three hours with a full load
As well as the Chaperone there is also a crt worker who drives his van through one of the disused rail tunnels to check out our progress. There are also communications in four places to call in to the tunnel manager to say we are OK and ask if it’s alright to proceed.
The Standedge Tunnel is the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. It is 5,500 yards (5,000 m) long, 636 feet (194 m) underground at its deepest point, and 643 feet (196 m) above sea level.
After closing in 1944 The canal tunnel was the beneficiary of a £5 million restoration project as part of an effort to re-open the entire canal. Several rock-lined parts of the tunnel were found to be unstable. Where possible, these were stabilised by rock bolts, (one can just be seen at the top of this picture) or where impractical, concrete was used to stabilise the rock face. The tunnel re-opened in May 2001.
After one hour and twenty minutes which we were told was a very good time for coming through we left the tunnel at Marsden in the pouring rain . It was a good trip through and no damage was done to Inca on the low ceiling and all the rocks that stick out . It’s been a hard old slog coming up the 32 locks from the junction to Diggle and it will be just as Hard going down the other side which is 42 locks to Huddersfield . We decided to moor up after we came out at Marsden and spend the night there before moving on.