Sunday 15 May 2011

Feel the fear and do it anyway - Canal locks!

Reuben's birthday fell on Easter Monday this year. He had his party on the Saturday and the next day was Easter Sunday. By his birthday we were tired and felt a bit flat. A quick look on the internet and I came up with the idea of a canal boat ride. A thirty minute drive from our house would get us to Marsden in West Yorkshire, through which runs the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

A wrong turn found us heading out over the moors, completely lost. We don't have Sat Nav and Geoff hadn't bothered to put the map in the car. It was a nice wrong turn as the scenery was breath taking. Then we saw the sign 'Saddleworth Moor' and a cold shiver ran down my spine.

Just as we were passing over the moors a news story came on the radio: the ill mother of a moors murder victim wanted to find where her son was buried before she died. It felt very eerie and I was glad when we found direction and got back on the right track.

I love the West Yorkshire mill towns. They are full of character and history.
This is the real reason I wanted to visit a canal: to see the locks. A few weeks earlier we had booked a canal boat holiday. But I had been lying in bed worrying about it all.

Face the fear and do it any way!

Gulp, it looks deep doesn't it. Just looking at the photo is giving me butterflies!
The girls had a go at opening the gates.
Then we took a stroll up the tow path, looking, thinking and chatting about everything we saw. Gradually my apprehension was overcome but our mounting excitement.
Such a tranquil way to travel, 4mph!
We walked along the tow to path to Standedge tunnel. This is the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in the UK. It stretches for 5,029 metres (3.25 miles) through hard millstone grit. An engineering marvel worked on by Thomas Telford, the tunnel runs from Marsden in Yorkshire through to Diggle in Lancashire.
And we got a ride back in a canal boat . Yeah! I got to talk more about the locks (and how deep they are) with the volunteers crewing the boat. I realise now that they are deep in the Pennines because the gradients are so extreme. We are going to the Shrophshire Union canal which is relatively flat and so the locks will be much shallower (I hope!). We are looking forward to more creations by Thomas Telford.
Tomorrow we are setting of for five days on the 63 foot narrowboat 'Sir Belin'.

See you soon x


  1. I have very fond memories of a childhood spent on the canals. I'm sure you will have a fantastic time, and 4mph is fast, i think we used to average around 2-3!

  2. Thank you Claire, we had a brilliant holiday.



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