A year or so ago, Peter de la Wyche and I took part in a Stockport Walkers' walk from Diggle over the moors to Marsden and back, approximately following the route of the Standedge Tunnels. At the Marsden end is a visitor centre, and this planted the idea of one day coming back to do one of the occasional trips that are run through the canal tunnel.
There are three railway tunnels, two single bores currently disused, and the double track tunnel that carries today's Trans Pennine Expresses between Manchester and Leeds. One of the single bore railway tunnels is used for emergency vehicles to access the canal and railway tunnels, though there is a proposal by Network Rail to re-open all three rail tunnels to increase rail capacity on this vital trans-pennine route. However, the first of the four tunnels through the Hill at Standedge was the canal tunnel.
Today Peter, my wife Chris, and I made the trip through that tunnel.
There is some speed-related delay in the boat's response, though it's a far greater delay than any aeroplane I've flown, but of course not dissimilar to steering a conventional tiller-steered narrow boat (done a lot of that as well!). And of course the walls are far from straight and the tunnel narrow, so one has to 'weave' to avoid hitting the sides. I must have done OK as the official driver congratulated me, saying "what are you doing a week on Saturday?"
Tunnel End Cottages now form the cafe at the visitor centre at Marsden
Close to Tunnel End is the former canal warehouse which was converted into the Standedge Visitors' Centre.
At £8 per head this trip through the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain is good value.
A fascinating day out!