Following on from our adventure on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, this video is a mainly real time cruise through the Standedge tunnel. This is our tribute to all of the navvies and others that designed and built this remarkable tunnel. Thanks to volunteer Trevor for all the information he imparted and for guiding us through the tunnel, Part 2
Wow, what an experience!!
This is not a tunnel for the faint hearted, taking your home 600ft into the bowels of the earth, under Saddleworth Moor isn't something that you do every day.
The morning started off with preparation to get everything in order to make the safe passage through the tunnel. We set up the cameras and donned our new uniform of high vis and hard hat and with much trepidation we set off, our guide Terry was very reassuring.
Entering the first part of the tunnel with the light fading behind us, the temperature took a distinctive change and reduced by several degrees. It dawned on us that there was now no turning back, we were committed to moving forward into the darkness for approximately the next 2 hours, not knowing what lay ahead.
After passing through a solid brick area we came into what can only be described as arched brickwork, this continued for some time. At this point we were able to stand up almost straight, just had to be careful not to bang our head on the ceiling. Trevor warned us that there was water cascading down at certain points. We came across this at the shafts built to assist in the construction of the tunnel. To the left side of the archway there were openings which although very dark we were told that they led into the train tunnel which is still in use today.
We eventually came to the first check in point, this was the first of 3 throughout our journey.
For our preparation for this journey we read the Canal and River Trust information on their website. This was quite daunting as it stipulated that anyone requesting passage through the tunnel needed to in the case of an emergency be able to climb a vertical ladder.
Setting off from the check point with only the echo of the engine noise drumming in our ears, we came across the first area of exposed rock. Pointed and jagged, the light exposed the mis-shaped outline of the tunnel where it had been cut by hand using steel rods hammered into the rock and dynamite to blast away the area. We suddenly came into an area of light grey but very smooth concrete, Trevor mentioned that while the train tunnel was being built, the rock had been disturbed and some collapses had occurred. We were looking up at the area where the rock fall had been repaired with steel mesh and sprayed concrete, which was part of the permanent repair completed in 2000. Although it looked quite substantial it was still disconcerting to think of the amount of rock that had fallen and the work that it took to make these repairs.
After what seemed an absolute age (and probably was) we came to a narrowing of the tunnel, Trevor had warned us that there was a kink in the tunnel, hoping that this was as narrow as it would get Pat asked if this was the narrowest point and his reply was "not yet'!
We now found that we were unable to stand and found ourselves squatting down as the tunnel became ever increasingly lower. Pat managed to bump the roof with a considerable thud on the bolts protruding from the rock face, thankfully he was wearing a hard hat. Suddenly there was a bang from the starboard side of the boat as part of the stern bounced off a piece of jagged rock as the tunnel became ever smaller.
We eventually saw a small white dot in the darkness, although it took us another 30 mins to finally reach the end of the tunnel and emerged from the ground into daylight. What a relief, but we were excited to know that we had completed the Standedge Tunnel.