Tuesday 19 May 2009

Huddersfield Narrow Canal - A Towpath Guide - Book Review

Huddersfield Narrow Canal - A Towpath Guide
By Dr Bob Gough

This guide was described in a recent edition of Canal Boat as "a labour of love" on the part of its author, Bob Gough - administrator of the Huddersf
ield Canal Society.

One thing you will notice on the Huddersfield Narrow is the amount of foot traffic which moves up and down the towpath. Whilst boats may be few and far between, walking the line of the canal is a very popular pursuit with the locals, and probably plays a large part in engendering the sense of community ownership we experienced. The Huddersfield Canal Society clearly appreciates this body of canal stakeholders and commissioned a pictorial guide with pedestrians in mind.

I purchased my copy from the Canal Society's offices at Dobcross, and in the process met Bob Gough who rather humbly acknowledged his authorship. He somewhat coyly admitted to not being a boater himself, but rather being a very keen walker with an absolute passion for the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, both past and present.

So why is a boater waxing lyrical about a towpath walkers guide? Well, this particular canal has a few locks on it - so many that at times my usually trusty Nicholson descends into a blur of black chevrons, leaving me confused about where I am, let alone informed about what surrounds me.

This guide delivers the detail others guides leave out. The book contains 36 information packed maps of the canal and its surroundings, each covering about half a mile - except the section over Standedge Moor which jumps to two miles per page, and very nearly caught us out! You might think that at a rate of one page to half a mile the guide would leave a boater forever turning its thick card pages on the spiral spine, but with a couple of locks on each section reaching the end of a page feels like an achievement in itself.

ISBN 978-0-9514270-1-9

As well as the maps, the facing pages contain over 400 photos, illustrating what you will see with all the vantage point indicated by little camera symbols. I nearly convinced Jeff that they were actually speed cameras to slow traffic down on the canal! This innovative layout is great when you get used to it, with the top photos looking east towards Huddersfield and the bottom ones facing west to Ashton-under-Lyne. The middle zone is then reserved for photos of things of a topical nature, accompanied by a short explanation.

If I have a complaint it is that the guide lacks a proper commentary about the history of the areas you pass through. That said, how many walkers would stop and read narrative whilst they are out and about?

This book is a must buy if you are planning a trip across the Huddersfield Narrow. It will enrich and inform, enhancing the pleasure you will get from this most delightful of canals. Get hold of a copy and "feel the love"!

It is worth every penny of its £4.99 price, and can be obtained from:

Huddersfield Canal Society
Transhipment warehouse
Wool Road

Or ordered from http://www.huddersfieldcanal.com/shop/towpathguide.htm
plus £1.50 p&p
ISBN : 978-0-9514270-1-9


MartinC said...

Don't forget to add £1.50 for post and packing if ordering a copy to be sent to you. More about this guide can be found here:
http://www.huddersfieldcanal.com/shop/towpathguide.htmincluding links to an order form.

Andy Tidy said...

Good point Martin - have amended the body of the text.