Sunday, April 08, 2007

We Made It

Yesterday, we set off very early with our bikes, to catch the train into Manchester and then onwards to Greenfield in the foothills of the Pennines. Our intention, - to cycle the Huddersfield canal from Greenfield in Lancashire to Huddersfield in Yorkshire.

There is just one major drawback to this route - at one point, the canal goes through a tunnel for 3 miles, while we will have to go over the spine of Britain - the Pennines!

The weather was superb, and a slight breeze meant it wasn't too hot. The trains were delayed so we didn't reach Greenfield until about 10:30 - about half-an-hour later than I expected, - but no matter. We had all day.

From Greenfield, it is about half-an-hour to Diggle up the canal. Lots of locks to cycle up, - The Huddersfield canal has 74 locks in its 20 mile length and also boasts the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain, the Standedge Tunnel. There is more information about the canal here.

At Diggle, both the trans-pennine railway and canal plunge into their respective tunnels and take the underground route to Yorkshire. We, on the other hand, have to climb 700 feet to go over the Pennines. naturally, this was the slowest and longest stretch of the ride, requiring a number of stops to "admire the view". However, like all good things, the climb had to come to an end, and the long descent to Huddersfield began.

First stop in Yorkshire was Marsden where both the railway and the canal emerge from the Pennine depths. Here we stopped for lunch at the appropriately named Tunnel End Inn. A lovely little pub serving Black Sheep ales and great food. Jayne had a massive, roast beef filled Yorkshire pudding, Bethen Steak and Ale stew and I had Cumberland sausage with mustard mashed potatoes. We felt we deserved it!

From there, it is a quick downhill run to Huddersfield, passing through small West Yorkshire towns like Slaithwaite, Linthwaite and Milnsbridge. At Slaithwaite, we stopped at a canal boat cafe and treated ourselves to ice cream before moving on. The canal at Slaithwaite runs right through the centre of the town, and was clearly the most important part in times past.

At Huddersfield, we left the canal and made our way to the station, - we were going to let the train take the strain going home! Imagine my pleasure when I discovered a superb station pub, the Head Of Steam selling more Yorkshire Black Sheep ale. We just had to stop and have a refreshing drink before catching our train home.

It was a magnificent ride in superb countryside and a thoroughly great day out.

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