WALK – MARSDEN - YORKSHIRE.
I had planned on taking a bus to Huddersfield, but I was short for time so I got off the bus in Marsden instead. This proved to be one of the most beautiful mill towns I have seen. It sits in the heart of the Moor, sometimes called the Marsden Moor Estate, which is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. The area is rich in canals, railways, viaducts, and reservoirs. The river Colne runs here. It counts as a district of Huddersfield.
The Luddites were very active in Marsden, and named their machine breaking hammers Enochs after Marsden’s Enoch Taylor, a machine maker who’s steam powered hammers were beloved to cost men’s livelihoods, and so inspired the Luddite attacks. Enoch Taylor is buried in Marsden.
Samuel Laycock, the dialect poet lived here. Simon Armitage, the modern poet still does.
The most significant sight here is the Standedge Canal tunnel, carrying the Huddersfield Canal, the highest, deepest and longest tunnel of its kind in Britain. There are three adjoining railway tunnels, built later, though only one railway tunnel remains in use. The Canal tunnel runs 16,499 feet, and cannot be walked, as there is no towpath there. You either has to go by canal boat ride or walk over the tunnel. I had literally just missed the boat so I chose to walk, getting a sense of how deep and perfectly concealed the tunnel is below me. The view around the hills is breath taking, and there are some lovely pubs and well-kept railway tracks to see here too. I walked back to Uppermill in Oldham, and Greater Manchester. I later found out I had walked on the A62, which is listed as one of the most fatally accident-prone black spots in Britain.
The start of the tunnel has a lovely tearoom and information point, as well as a very good museum giving the history of the canal’s construction and later restoration (it was closed for many years and left in some neglect).
Much of the original cut was made by use of gunpowder, with diggers working by candlelight deep in the earth. There were many casualties from such a dig.
The canal stopped being used commercially as late as 1921, and was officially closed in 1944. It reopened due to restoration campaigns and funding by canal enthusiasts in 2001.
The town, or village is lovely; with a clock tower to die for, and stone houses that look carved out of the rock face itself at times. A very nice place with a perfectly pitched balance between rural and urban life. I hope to return to explore the Moorland paths around the town soon.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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