Between Sowerby Bridge and Ashton-under-Lyne, via Huddersfield
33 miles 97 locks 40 hours
Seven-night One Way Trip
This trip has been a real wow with our intrepid pioneers,
who have been thrilled by the scenery and the atmosphere.
Sail down the Calder & Hebble Navigation past Brighouse, with a short river section to Cooper Bridge, where you take the right turn into the bottom lock of the Huddersfield Broad. This leads you up through the outskirts of Huddersfield right into the City centre. Go through the University, a weird but satisfying juxtaposition of sixties high-rise and nineties mill conversion, then dive under another mill (this one real) into a new tunnel which leads directly into a new lock - followed closely by another new lock by another new college. As you emerge, a steel-truss railway viaduct frames the start of your journey up the Colne valley into the hills. At Slaithwaite the canal has been put back on its original track. You will enjoy exploring the village. Then go on towards the summit, past Marsden, whose Mechanics Institute is the home of Mikron Theatre (though they will be away touring). So at last you come to the summit, 644' 9" above sea level, where a very short pool makes the entrance into Standedge Tunnel all the more dramatic by its understatement. The Standedge Visitor Centre gives an unforgettable insight into the lives of the tunnellers who blasted their way under the Pennines, the packhorse teams who preceded them over the top, and the leggers who took the boats through 3 ¼ miles of pitch dark. Now you drive your own boat through, accompanied by a Canal & River Trust expert, who gives a fascinating commentary as you go, on the work of the original miners and of their modern successors.
After the tunnel, the canal descends quickly through the Diggle flight, then into the Saddleworth villages, with weavers' cottages, and genuine charm as well as craft shops. The centre of Stalybridge has been transformed by the construction of a new canal.
You enter Ashton by passing under an ASDA, to be compared with the Sainsbury's you passed at Huddersfield several days (and 74 locks) ago. Our base is at Bridge 24 on the Ashton, a little past the Industrial Museum at Portland Basin.
You require an active, experienced crew; the Huddersfield
Narrow Canal has many locks. At least one of the crew must
have adequate experience (you need to know how to pace
yourselves, and we may not be able to give lock instruction
to those who start from Ashton).
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is not yet in as good condition as other canals and you may experience difficulty or delays. Some of the locks can be hard work. Passage through Standedge is available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (the days that suit you). Dogs are allowed through the tunnel. We will book passage for you with Canal & River Trust. We will give further details in the Route Companion available to you as soon as you have booked your holiday.
Distances and times shown (for guidance) are for the complete trip. Information we provide about specific waterways or suggested routes is for general reference only. Please see more about route availability.
This route has a short section on a river navigation. In normal conditions the rivers are placid but in prolonged wet weather they can flow too fast for safe navigation. In such cases boats wait at safe moorings while flood water recedes - usually quite quickly.
Transfer arrangements for Ashton
Your direction of travel will be advised the week before
you start. It depends on that taken by previous crews. Your
Information Pack has all details for both directions. If coming to us by car, you
will come first to Sowerby Bridge whichever way the boat is
going. All cars are parked at Sowerby Bridge. The easy
20-mile transfer by minibus or taxi to or from Ashton will
accordingly be at either the beginning (for the whole party)
or the end (for the whole party or just the drivers) of your
holiday. Cost about £11 per head, minimum £45, plus a small
extra charge for bikes or dogs. We will discuss details with you. Those
travelling entirely by train can get to Ashton (Guide Bridge
station) and Sowerby Bridge from main line trains at
Manchester or Preston.
This one-way trip is available only on Cornwall. Saturday start.