Friday, 15 June 2012

Images of - South Pennine Ring - Part 2

In 2010 whilst researching the second part of Richlow's two South Pennine Ring guides, John & Barbara cruised their boat nb Madeley Wood from Sowerby Bridge to Ashton  -  along the Huddersfield Broad and Narrow canals.

They also walked the entire route, including over Standedge Tunnel (twice!).

These photographs reflect their experiences, and may perhaps encourage others to boat across the Pennines.

At Salterhebble, on the Calder & Hebble Navigation.  Note the unique handspike-operated gate paddles (or "cloughs" as they are know locally).

The start of the Huddersfield Broad Canal at Cooper Bridge.  nb Thief of Time is leaving the River Calder and entering lock no.1.

 The unique Locomotive Bridge on the Huddersfield Broad Canal, in Huddersfield.  The deck remains horizontal and is lifted on wire ropes.
When we first started boating here, we used to wind a handle and hope the road traffic would stop.  Now there are road-barriers and the bridge lifts electrically at the push of a button.
For some reason British Waterways have recently put up bridge-name signs calling this Quay Street Bridge  -  but we think it will always be known as Locomotive Bridge.

One of Shire Cruisers hire boats entering Lock 1E, the first lock on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.  The locks on the Huddersfield side of the Pennines are numbered with an "E" suffix, those on the Ashton side with a "W".

Lock 3E and Sellers Tunnel
Now you see them  -
now you don't!

As part of the Millennium restoration of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, a new tunnel was constructed beneath the Sellers factory, and a new Lock 3E was installed at the upstream end.  Now in 2012 the factory has been relocated and the site is being redeveloped.  As a result, the tunnel has been abandoned, with the canal rebuilt at ground level.  A third Lock 3E has been built close to the original one, which boats sail straight through near Chapel Hill.  The towpath is now open through this section.

Leaving Huddersfield behind, the scenery becomes more rural on the approach to Lock 12E.

The landscape is spectacular in the upper Colne valley between Slaithwaite and Marsden.  Boating is hard work with the locks close together, has seen here at Lock 27E.

The Colne valley bottom was lined with stone-built water-powered mills and their dams.  Many still remain  -  this one is at Sparth below Lock 32E.

Marsden Locks blend beautifully into the landscape.


Standedge Tunnel is the highlight of navigating the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.  Tunnel passages have to be booked in advance.  We had to wear safety equipment to boat through the three and a quarter mile tunnel, and we were accompanied by a pilot.  The tunnel is full of interest but our cat was terrified by the echoes, especially those of trains passing in the adjacent railway tunnel.

On a walking visit over the tunnel top we accompanied a group from the Horse Boating Society, with their horse Bonnie.  The rough nature of the high Pennine hills can be seen, and also some of the tunnel ventilation shafts.

Moored outside Brownsfield Visitor Centre, where the impressive Saddleworth viaduct spanning across Lock 23W.

As a result of the restoration of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Greenfield has become a popular tourist venue.  There are pleasant, convenient moorings from which to visit the museum, small shops, cafes and pubs, in this thriving little town.

The "other" tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow  -  the short Scout Tunnel between locks 12W and 11W  -  cut through a rocky bluff in the valley side.  It is unlined and has a towpath, giving walkes an opportunity to see the naked Pennine rock.

 Stalybridge.  Where else can you moor up in a town centre like this!  Good moorings to explore this Lancashire mill-town.

There are some excellent small shops including this gem.

Where else but in Lancashire?

We hope these images may encourage more visitors to the Huddersfield canals  -  Broad and Narrow.

If so, the Richlow guide South Pennine Ring - Part 2 is available post free from

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Updates - June 2012

South Pennine Ring  -  Part 2
Map 16, page 28, Huddersfield Narrow Canal
Seller's Tunnel (23), Huddersfield (See Navigation Notes, Towpath Notes and Text).
On our visit on June 1st, workmen were still completing works to the navigation and towpath. A new lock 3E has been constructed just upstream of Chapel Hill Bridge - this is the third in the history of the canal! Seller’s Tunnel has effectively been abolished and the canal raised to ground level upstream of the new lock. The towpath is now continuous between Chapel Hill Bridge and Longroyd Bridge (25), so walkers now only need to divert between Chapel Hill Bridge and Queen Street Bridge (22).

Important note for boaters - there is still no pedestrian access along the towpath to Lock 2E, so boat crews must be picked up and travel on the boat between locks 3E and 1E.

Looking upstream from Chapel Hill Bridge.  Just behind the photographer are steps leading up from a landing for boat crews.  Beyond the new Lock 3E is a 200ft passing place and the new narrow canal channel which replaces Seller’s Tunnel.  Construction work continues on the new development on the right.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Images of - South Yorkshire Waterways

South Yorkshire Waterways guide - available from 

The Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation (SSYN) which includes the Don Navigation, and the New Junction, Stainforth & Keadby and Sheffield & Tinsley canals.
These waterways probably have the widest variety of navigational features, and the same can be said of the surroundings  -  including flat rural fenland and a climb to a city centre.
As a result the following pictures only give a taste of the SSYN, but hopefully they will encourage boaters to visit these surprisingly remote waterways.
They were taken in 2011 during Richlow's research for our South Yorkshire Waterways guide.  Richlow guides  -  Written by People Who Go There!
These are wide waterways, no need to look for winding holes.
On the right is Humber super-sloop Spider T on her Keadby home mooring.  She took part in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012.


Commercial traffic uses the New Junction Canal and the Don Navigation (here at Mexborough) so they are even wider.

There are many types of bridges  -  this one on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal is operated by the railway signalman.

Whereas, this one on the New Junction Canal is power-operated by boaters.

Some locks are manually operated - others look as if they are but this one at Thorne is also power-operated.

Other locks are somewhat larger, and are obviously beyond balance-beam pushing!

And this is how the large modern locks and moveable bridges are operated.  Insert a BW (C&RT) key and press the buttons.  It's a controlled operation, with lock paddles gradually opening to prevent turbulence.


Lock-side posts have white bands which rise and fall to indicate the position of the paddles.  Here one shows the paddles have started to rise - at this stage they will be opening very slowly.


The SSYN has canals  -  as here at Thorne which is the major boating supplies centre.


It also includes the River Don  -  here between Rotherham and Sheffield, with a weir clearly marked.


And it has a canal over a river  -  the New Junction Canal crossing the tidal River Don.

Yes, there is commercial traffic  -  that's why boaters have the luxury of power-operated bridges and locks.

This is Humber Pride, but the Goole-Rotherham run is usually done by her sister Humber Princess.  Once or twice a week.


Humber Princess at Aldwarke, showing why the locks are the size they are.

The Richlow guide has tips and information about sharing the SSYN with girls like this.

Humber Princess has a retracting wheel-house for this bridge at Aldwarke.

Beyond the head of commercial navigation, the stretch between Rotherham and Sheffield is more pleasant than may be imagined.

Tinsley Locks, on the climb up to the summit level of the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal

On the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal  -  overhead one of Sheffield's modern trams, which provide a good way to explore the city and its suburbs.

The Richlow guide includes information on Sheffield's events and entertainments, and public transport to visit the surrounding Peak District.

The final mile to Victoria Quays is typical of the approach to a city centre  -  but most of the industry has moved away from the canal.

Richlow's flag-ship Madeley Wood in Sheffield basin (Victoria Quays).  A pleasant and surprisingly quiet location.

We hope these pictures may tempt you to visit this part of the national waterways network.