Narrowboat holidays—Huddersfield Narrow Canal

Published: Wednesday, 19 January 2011

THE Huddersfield Narrow Canal, passing through the Pennines, though extremely strenuous to work for boaters, as part of Pennine waterways can be the most rewarding for the experienced boat holiday maker.

The fact that is has 74 locks over 20 miles will put off all except the most hardy of holiday hirers, but the experience of the Huddersfield Narrow is one that will be long remembered, being entirely different from any other on the entire system, offering scenery second to none as the waterway climbs up then down the Pennines.


It was in 2001 that this Pennine waterway was restored, its restoration resulting in some of the most remarkable achievements ever attempted in the re-opening of a waterway, including moving an entire works and its contents, constructing a tunnel, then putting everything back, as seen in the two photographs.  It even meant moving a bus station and a market, where the original canal had been buried.

But it is Standedge Tunnel that is its crowning achievement, the longest and deepest in the country, as well as the highest, and now with boaters able to take their own boats through, though with a 'helper' to make sure all is well, makes it the most rewarding experience of anything on the waterways.

Many problems

Since it's restoration there have been many problems, and though passage has to be booked, it is quite feasible that yet more water leaks, breaches or lock failures will cause your cruise to be cancelled, and yet in the case of this waterway the authorities do all they are able to keep it open, having spent upwards of £30 millions in its restoration.

Moorings tend to be restricted to certain areas, as lack of dredging and leaks can leave a boat on the bottom if not careful.

The locks are so close that all too often the pound drops so quickly that a boat can be stranded, as being around ten feet deep, the locks take a fair amount of water.

Some locks are difficult to operate, especially for the new boat hirer, with one lock in particular so difficult to move it needed a boat roped to its gate  to get it to open so that the boat could be taken in.

Some paddle gear too is of two 'man' operation, it being so difficult to work, with two spindles provided for this purpose, as shown above.

On the positive side as the waterway climbs up the Pennines then descends the other side, the holiday makers brave enough to attempt the 'Narrow' cannot but admire the breathtaking scenery, and will certainly   forget the 'mountains of Wales' as the blurb says about the Llangollen—it cannot hold a candle.