On Saturday 3 June, we officially opened Foulridge Tunnel, on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, to canoes.
Until now, the mile-long, 200 year old tunnel, looked after by us, has been enjoyed solely by canal boats. But now, canoeists can paddle through and experience travelling under the Pennines for the first time, as part of our ambitious plans for the UK’s first coast-to-coast canoe trail.
50 young people and canoe enthusiasts, including local canoe club Pendle Paddlers, took part in the launch event. Richard Parry, our chief executive welcomed guests before cutting a ribbon across the tunnel to open proceedings, and joining the paddle.
Richard Parry spoke of his experience going through the tunnel: "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of the celebrations for the opening of Foulridge Tunnel to canoeists for the first time. Paddling along the mile-long tunnel, now the longest in the UK open to canoeists, has been a wonderful experience and I’m delighted that the Canal & River Trust has been able to make this possible for others to enjoy."
Chantelle Seaborn, our waterway manager also joined the mass paddle, she said: "At one mile-long, Foulridge Tunnel is an exceptionally long canal tunnel to canoe through and safety is of paramount importance. Entry is via a traffic-light system into the tunnel and we ask that canoeists adhere to the simple, yet effective safety precautions we have provided. These include: checking the tunnel is clear of other craft before entering, wearing a forward facing bright white light and a personal floatation device with attached whistle and bring an airhorn. We advise only experienced canoeists enter the tunnel alone."
Foulridge Tunnel is a highlight of the Desmond Family Canoe Trail that will stretch for 162 miles, connecting Liverpool to Goole along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and Aire & Calder Navigation. Funded by the Desmond Foundation, the trail also has the support of British Canoeing and Canoe England.
Rob Hardy, Desmond Family Canoe Trail project leader added: "Making it possible for canoeists to access to Foulridge Tunnel has been a major step forward in developing the coast-to-coast trail. It’s been great day to have so much support from the canoeing community for the opening and bring together young people and seasoned paddlers for this special occasion and launch the opening as part of Go Canoeing Week."