2013 12 19 Pennine Waterways 3


The South Pennine Ring is a 75 mile ring of canals around the South Pennines. Starting in Manchester the route follows the Rochdale Canal to Sowerby Bridge, then the Calder Aire Navigation and Huddersfield Broad Canal to Huddersfield. From Huddersfield the Huddersfield Narrow Canal is followed to Ashton and finally the Ashton Canal into Manchester.

For logistical purposes our third and  final leg from Marsden to Manchester was done in reverse. Meeting in the heart of Manchester proved popular with several taking advantage of Greggs specials and one said Weatherspoons was the place to go, for coffee they claimed! Away on the dot of 8.30am we initially passed modern apartments for the city dweller and then through industrial scenery to reach the Etihad stadium. The need for extra training facilities has restricted access to the canal at this point. Luckily we had a supporter to guide us round the diversion.

On to Ashton where a well earned break was taken at Portland Basin where the Peak Forest canal, Ashton canal and Huddersfield Narrow Canal merge. On to Stalybridge and soon the landscape becomes more rural in character. Just before Mossley we encountered Scout Tunnel, a 300yard tunnel with no light and an uneven towpath. Health and Safety have unfortunately provided handrails so no early baths to report.

At Greenfield we adjourned for a swift Xmas drink at the Kingfisher. Unfortunately we also lost 2 walkers at this point. No coincidence I hope. Onward to the Standedge Tunnel at Diggle. Here we have to leave the canal as no towpath exists in the tunnel. Everyone is quite pleased to use a few different muscles as we climb up to Brun Clough Reservoir. A descent before a pull across the flanks of Pule Hill and descent to Tunnel End in sleet and snow to see where the Standege tunnel emerges from its underground journey. A final diversion to avoid another canal closure and arrival in Marsden around 3.15pm.

 Still time for another drink before the trains arrive! We don't have a problem - honest!

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