We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.

Boating through Standedge Tunnel

You can steer your own boat through Standedge Tunnel, under your own power, as long as one of our Canal & River Trust Tunnel ‘Chaperones’ is aboard your boat. Find out how to book your passage here.

Passage times and bookings

Passage is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between March – and November.

Passage times:
Marsden – Diggle (going west) – from 8.30am to 10.30am
Diggle – Marsden (going east) – from 1.00pm to 2.30pm

  • all bookings are subject to availability
  • you must book at least three working days in advance of passage
  • or seven working days in advance at bank holidays

(Well, it is a popular spot for boaters!)

You can book your passage through the tunnel online or call: 03030 404040 and ask for Standedge Tunnel passage bookings.

Passage safety rules

These guidelines may change depending on water levels and availability of space. The restrictions make sure this amazing structure is always ready for you to enjoy it by ensuring there's enough water so you can navigate and that the tunnel stays open all season.

So if you’re due to enter the tunnel, here’s how to be prepared:

  • please make sure your craft is within the maximum dimension limits specified in the diagram below
  • sadly, fibreglass boats and petrol engine boats are not allowed through the tunnel
  • we cannot take the helm of unattended boats or take them through the tunnel for you
  • our trained chaperone will accompany each boat to offer navigational advice and information
  • we will issue anyone remaining outside your boat as it travels through the tunnel with a hard hat and life jacket. Both need to be worn at all times in the tunnel
  • in an emergency – you must be able to leave your boat unaided in line with our tunnel operations procedures. This includes being able to climb a vertical ladder [two metres] up to an escape platform within the tunnel and ability to walk up to 2km on uneven ground
  • you can take pets through the tunnel. However, the tunnel is a confined space, with plenty of strange noises. So to minimise the distress on your pet – and any risk to you as the boat steerer – your pet (including dogs and cats) must be tied or caged appropriately and inside your boat. Ideally, with someone taking care of them during the passage. After all, they may have to endure the passage for up to three hours. Simply closing internal doors is not enough to satisfy our safety requirement
  • remember, there are no pump out facilities at the visitor centre, only a water point
  • the Canal & River Trust cannot be liable for any damage to your boat as a result of its passage through the tunnel

We may refuse to allow anyone to travel through the tunnel, if we consider them unable to meet the above requirements. However, you can:

  • take a taxi – we can book a taxi, at your expense, to transfer anyone who is not travelling through the tunnel to the other end
  • take a bus – there are a couple of bus routes available
  • go on foot – we can provide details of the walking route over the Pennines

Travelling from Marsden to Diggle (east to west)

Please moor just past lock 42E on the day before your passage and not to go past the second railway bridge until after 5.00pm. This is to avoid colliding with our Standedge visitor centre boat trip, which runs past this point until 5.00pm.

After 5.00pm you can moor at the tunnel entrance ready for your passage the following day. Passage preparations start at 8.00am the next day.

The locks from 32E to 42E are no longer manned, so please take care when travelling up the flight to minimise water loss and make sure all paddles are closed after you. When descending, please fill the lower lock on each pound before you release the water from the upper lock of that pound, otherwise the locks may flood.

Please don’t try to run water down from above without help from our team. Running water from the summit pound may mean boats will get stuck in the tunnel or tunnel being closed.

If you need any help on the flight, please call 03030 404040. 

Travelling from Diggle to Marsden (west to east)

Please be at the Diggle portal for 11.30am on the day of your passage.
Switch off your gas and p[ut out all stoves before entering the tunnel . Once through the tunnel, you can moor above lock 42E for up to 24 hours. Further mooring space is available below lock 32E, between Marsden and Slaithwaite villages (please note, there are no facilities at these locations).

Limiting dimensions

Sadly, if your boat exceeds the following dimensions when our tunnel controller measures you at the tunnel entrance, we'll have to refuse you passage.

Maximum length = 70’ (21.34m)
(A) Maximum width = 6’ 10” (2.08m)
(B) Max. Height above water = 6’ 2” (1.88m)
(C) Max. Draught below water = 3’ 3” (0.99m)

Standedge Tunnel boat dimensions for passage through tunnel
Standedge dimensions table Standedge dimensions table

For further information, speak to our tunnel controller at the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre.

Last date edited: 22 September 2017