History of the Standedge Tunnel
Being the longest, deepest and highest tunnel in the U.K., Standedge Tunnel is one of the most popular canal sights these days. Back in the day however, the build took longer as expected due to the lack of skilled workers and higher water levels than expected. The build started in 1794, abandoned 2 years later and eventually taken up again by Thomas Telford. Standedge Tunnel was completed and opened to traffic in 1811. Afterwards, 3 more tunnels were built parallel to the original one. Due to the decline of canal trade, the tunnel was abandoned in 1941 and reopened in 2001.
Why you should visit
Standedge Tunnel can claim several superlatives for itself: its the longest (5,491 yards), deepest and highest tunnel in the U.K. It’s a truly unique experience to go through such a long tunnel on a canal boat. The best thing is that a chaperone from the Canal & River Trust are on board to make the whole journey safe and enjoyable. It’s truly mindboggling to cross the Pennine hills through a tunnel on a canal boat.
Good to know
- Passages need to be booked in advance. During the summer period there are 2 passages on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. During the winter season this reduces to 1 passage on these days.
- A chaperone from the Canal & River Trust will board every boat that has booked the passage and will be on board for the whole journey.
- No petrol or fibreglass boats are allowed in the tunnel.
Things to do away from the towpath
- Watersedge Coffee House is located at the Marsworth side of the tunnel. Its located directly at the entrance to the Standedge Tunnel and is the perfect place to enjoy the hustle and bustle with a drink, cake or even breakfast.
- The Visitor centre is a great place to learn more about the history and operational intricacies of Standedge Tunnel. The entrance is free.
- Ramblers will love the variety of footpaths that lead away from the towpath. The Standedge trail crosses the towpath at both ends and can be followed for the actual Standedge Tunnel section. Ambitious walkers can complete the whole circuit which is 12 miles long and takes in a good mix of industrial heritage and open moorland views.