This is a fairly short and accessible canal-side walk, that is level and easy to find and follow. It’s a little muddy after heavy or prolonged rain.
It starts from Marsden railway station, on the Manchester-bound side, which is accessible.l Getting back again is a different kettle of fish, however, so demand, in advance of your walk, assistance from Network Rail. Then complain, but not to the person who gets you on to the platform.
The path sets off alongside the canal, which here is right next to the platform. Set off with the canal on your right, otherwise you will embark on a hard journey to Slaithwaite.
The towpath goes under the road, then goes through trees to the red railway bridge. The wood to your left can be accessed through a five-bar gate that you will see on your left. If you have a RADAR key you’ll be able to get in, but the path is ALWAYS muddy, and often impassable. You will have to come out the same way you went in, because all the other paths from the wood to the canal invove steep steps.
Back to the red railway bridge, then. This is OK to go through, but it is dark, wet, bumpy and very near the water, so go as slowly and carefully as you can. It’s a double bridge, and when you come out of it you have reached the canal basin of Tunnel End.
Here is lots of industrial history, a picnic area, a cafe, a museum, and hourly boat trips into the tunnel. Read the boards – it’s interesting. Often there is a canal volunteer selling membership of the Canal and River Trust. Use this opportunity to complain – politely, for it is not the volunteer’s fault – about the dangerous condition of the path at Lock 27 (see Marsden to Slaithwaite walk)!
There is disabled parking here, so if you’re worried about getting the train, you can start and finish here.
When you’ve had enough coffee and cake, return to Marsden the same way, or go up to the road, turn right at the house that used to be the pub (The Junction, or The Tunnel End, depending how old you are).
This road leads uphill to New House and Reddisher Farm on the left, with open views across the valley to Pule Hill behind you and Deer Hill in front. There is a bench at the top here, with open views, which will be welcomed by your pusher.
The road now goes hently downhill to the station, with Deer Hill in front, and banks of honeysuckle on your left.
This road can be used as a wet weather alternative to the canal. I like coming back on it because it is less claustrophobic than the canal, and it satisfies me on asthetic grounds by making the walk circular.
Round distance about 1 mile.
Originally, in the 18th Century, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal ended at what we now call Tunnel End. Goods were unloaded here and taken by pack horse over Standedge to Uppermill. The engineer, James Outram, built the tunnel in the 1790’s, though the 5 kilometres were too narrow for a towpath. As a result, the horses were led over Standedge to Diggle, while teams of men lay on the barges and walked the boat through the tunnel, a procedure known as legging.
In 1846, in an early example of modern predatory capitalism, the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway Company bought the canal, and, surprise, surprise, the railway was built and opeed 3 years later. Canal traffic declined, and the canal wase ventually abandoned in 1914.
There are now 3 tunnels through Standedge, all interlinked: the canal tunnel, now restored, the original single track railway, and the double track tunnel, which is the one that is used by trains today.