Thursday 26 February 2009

Standedge Tunnel update

Standedge Tunnel
26th February 2009

Great news: BW have announced their Standedge plans for 2009, and my passage(s) are booked.

As I said in my earlier blog on the subject, the tunnel will be open for through traffic on three days per week: Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Traffic will flow from east to west in the mornings and west to east in the afternoons.

Now here is the really good bit: the tug boat system has been scrapped, as have plans for piloted passages. Instead, BW will be operating a chaperoned system for the year, meaning I can steer Wand'ring Bark under her own power, accompanied by a BW "Tunnel Chaperone". The whole concept of a chaperone brings blushing damsels in costume dramas to mind, but I don't suppose that I will get to Diggle and find Helena Bonham Carter waiting for me (not that I would object of course) and a brooding Mr Darcy hovering in the portal at Marsden.

With only three slots in each direction on each of the days that means that the maximum through traffic is restricted to 9 per week in each direction. Add to that the fact that the exit to the Calder and Hebble will probably still be blocked (work starts on 10th March) and I suspect that we will be in for a few very quiet days on the Huddersfield side.

I am delighted at the turn of events and am eagerly anticipating steering WB through the UK's longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel. Anything less would leave me feeling that I hadn't really "done" the canal. Thanks BW - a great decision.

With the Huddersfield Narrow looking likely to the a "there and back" trip, other interesting possibilities open up:

1. Explore Salford Docks, the Irwell and the first part of the Manchester Bolton and Bury.
2. The remaindered western end of the Leeds Liverpool, right into the heart of the Liverpool docks.

February is rapidly coming to a close and its only four weeks to the off. Can you detect a whiff of excitement in the air?

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