top of page

You can steer your own boat through Standedge Tunnel, under your own power, as long as one of the Canal & River Trusts Tunnel ‘Chaperones’ is aboard your boat. Find out how to book your passage on thier website.

Standedge Tunnel


Opened in 1811 It took 2,500 navvies 17 years to dig the tunnel with nothing but picks; shovels, muscle power and black powder.

Some have estimated the death toll at 50 but the tally may have been far higher.


The longest, the deepest and the highest canal tunnel in Great Britain

The tunnel is 3.2 miles (4,979 m) long, 636 feet (194 m) underground at its deepest point, and 643 feet (196 m) above sea level. 


The original estimate was six years but he project was fraught with problems and opened 17 years later.

One small obstacle being (It is said ) they got the tunnel level wrong at the Diggle end and realised the two tunnels were not going to meet!


The engineer in charge resigned because the tunnel was found to be 18 ft out of line with an ‘S’ bend in the middle.

Thomas Telford was brought in to finish the job.


At more than three miles long, and no towpath boats were ‘legged’ through.

The average time to leg a loaded boat through the tunnel was 4 hours. In 1914 David Whitehead and his wife legged a narrow boat through the tunnel in the fastest recorded time of 1 hour and 25 minutes.

bottom of page