A furious narrowboat enthusiast has called for a section of Huddersfield Narrow Canal to be temporarily closed after he was grounded in shallow water.
The canal boat user decided to turn back having failed to reach the famous Standedge Tunnel, the longest and highest canal tunnel in the country at three and a quarter miles long, which he described as a ‘bucket lister’.
The boater, who goes by the name The Narrow Alternative on YouTube, was on the Diggle, Saddleworth side of the famous waterway but turned back before the Standedge Tunnel which runs under the Pennines to Marsden on the West Yorkshire side.
He posted two videos of his experiences of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and concluded: “Close the flipping canal. It’s not fit for purpose.”
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He said: “The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is notoriously shallow, but this is something else. Five hours to move just one mile – exhausting. At least I know where all the missing supermarket trollies are.”
The frustrated and fed-up boater dubbed it “Huddersfield Shallow Canal.”
In a video posted on March 16, he said he had contacted the Canal and River Trust after his boat had grounded on the Diggle side of the waterway. The CRT had promised to ‘send some water down’ to help him get off the bottom but he says he had a long wait.
He and his boat Rhapsody eventually made it to the next lock but became grounded again. The boat then got stuck on a big tree branch while using a lock.
And in a second video, posted on April 2, he said: “In the last vlog I don’t think I included enough footage to properly show just how bad the Huddersfield Canal really is. It’s not that it doesn’t hold its water, but also the sheer volume of rubbish and obstacles which can seriously damage your boat.
“I’ve since spoken to boaters who have travelled up and down the canal in the weeks before I did, and since. Pretty much everyone said the same – too shallow, got stuck, called the CRT for help and blimey it’s hard work.
“I had really wanted to tick this canal off my bucket list, particularly the three and a half mile Standedge Tunnel. But as a solo boater, I just felt it was too hard, so I turned around. At the very least the first few miles should be closed while it’s sorted out properly because at the moment it’s like a poor relative that’s being ignored.”
The Huddersfield Narrow Canal was reopened in 2001 following a huge £30m restoration project. It had been closed for 50 years and in places had been filled in or completely blocked.
Since then boaters have complained about shallow water and a lack of maintenance on both sides of the Pennines.
The waterway runs for just under 20 miles from Lock 1E at the back of Huddersfield University, near Aspley Basin, to the junction with Ashton Canal in Ashton-under-Lyne. It runs through the centre of Slaithwaite village in Huddersfield Colne Valley and onto Marsden where it passes beneath the Pennines to emerge at Diggle.
A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust said: “Sadly, our charity spends around £1million a year dealing with fly-tipping and littering on our waterways, which is a recurring problem across our network.
“Our volunteers are a massive help in supporting our teams to look after our waterways and clear them of rubbish. With 2,000 miles of canals and rivers to look after, we really appreciate people taking the time to report sightings of fly tipping, abandoned trolleys so that we can take appropriate action. Call us on 0303 040 4040.
“We recently experienced some low water levels on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in our North West region, with reservoirs supplying the waterway being held at reduced levels as we have been carrying out a series of tests, which has impacted on earlier than normal on water levels in this area.
“It is important that we manage water resources carefully to ensure that our waterways can be accessed and enjoyed. As we approach the start of the season resources supplying the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and our other canals, rivers and reservoirs are being closely monitored. Even with careful management and planning, there will be occasions when restrictions and stoppages will need to occur and issue notices to boaters about, please see our webpage for details: Notices and stoppages | Canal & River Trust (canalrivertrust.org.uk)“
* What’s your experience of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal? Email: [email protected]