Standedge canoeists get to paddle under the Pennines

Canoeists will be able to paddle through the longest canal tunnel in Britain, stretching three-and-a-half miles under the Pennines.

The chance to explore Standedge Tunnel comes thanks to new taster sessions run by the Canal and River Trust.

The canoeing sessions will see visitors travel through the tunnel, which opened in 1811, in a 90-minute journey.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Vicky Levine, area operations manager for Canal and River Trust, said: “Following a tough period over lockdown, our team of staff and volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes and we’re excited to be realising these plans, with new canoe sessions, a nature trail and the return of our boat trips into the tunnel.”

taff and volunteers at the Canal & River Trust take the opportunity for taster canoe trips on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre at Marsden near Huddersfield.

The Trust is also calling for more volunteers to ensure that visitors have a worthwhile experience when visiting the tunnel, near Huddersfield.

Ms Levine added: “We are seeking more volunteers at Standedge, including help with driving the boats, general maintenance, gardening and grounds work, tours, talks and general administration and would love to hear from anyone interested in supporting our team.”

The visitor centre has also seen improvements including a new sensory garden, mini-amphitheatre and picnic area.

Construction of Standedge Tunnel began in 1794 but wasn’t opened until 1811 after its building was beset with problems including the resignation of engineer, Benjamin Outram.

The first boat to travel through the tunnel, the Lively Lady, emerged from its depths to the strains of Rule Britannia.

For a century, the tunnel became a busy thoroughfare for commercial activity, but the rise of the railways led to its decline and it closed to traffic in 1944.

But a £5m restoration project saw the tunnel re-open in 2001, and it is now recognised as one of the “seven wonders of the waterways” after being included on the list by conservationist Robert Aickman.