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Country's oldest canal boat sets sail for spring; Forty-five mile return journey under Pennines: What was actually happening at Standedge in 1810, some 200 years ago: and what is happening on May Monday Bank Holiday?

Byline: Express & Chronicle

BRITAIN'S oldest wooden narrowboat sets sail on horse-drawn journeys along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal this spring.

Horseboating Maria, built in 1854, will make the journey from Guide Bridge on the Ashton Canal and then along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Huddersfield and back.

It is a return journey of a total of 45 miles, 148 lock passages, 'legging' through small tunnels and passing through Britain's longest, deepest and darkest canal tunnel, the three-and-a-quarter-mile long Standedge Tunnel, at Marsden.

The traditional art of 'legging' boats through Standedge Tunnel will be featured at two one-day events organised by The Horseboating Society.

On Sunday April 25 a canal boat will travel from Diggle to Tunnel End, Marsden, starting at 1pm, arriving at The Standedge Centre, Marsden, between 3.30 and 4pm. There will also be a guided walk for the public with the boathorse over the tunnel top, from 2pm to 4pm.

At 10.30am Horseboat Maria will be at Brownhill Countryside Centre, Dobcross, where visitors can see the horse-drawn boat work up through the Diggle flight of locks At 1pm a four-mile guided walk, starting at the Diggle portal of Standedge Tunnel and following the boathorse along Boat Lane, over Standedge, to Tunnel End, while the boat is legged through Standedge Tunnel.

There will also be four mile 'Storytelling Walk' starting opposite the Railway pub in Marsden, and joining a walk to the Standedge Visitor Centre at Tunnel End, hearing tales as they go about the tunnel and dragons and others.

At 2pm there will be maypole and morris dancing by the Thieving Magpies and family activities with a St George and the Dragon theme.

At 3pm there will be a spectacular display of fire-spinning and fire-breathing and then, around 3.30pm, comes the arrival of the Dragon Boat - complete with two barrels of beer!

Visitors can go along and cheer on St.George and boo the bad, bad dragon. Can St George slay the dragon to rescue all the villagers? So just what was actually happening at Standedge in 1810, some 200 years ago? Boats had no tunnel yet to use, so their cargoes were unloaded, and packhorses and wagon horses took the loads overland, right over the top of Standedge, over the Pennine ridge. Below these horses at work, the tunnel was still being dug out, being worked from several shafts simultaneously.

Then, in December 1810, the first canal boat went through.

What's happening on May 3 2010? The Horseboating Society is making its annual return journey on the Huddersfield Narrow, 'legging' Standedge Tunnel. That is exciting enough, but take note.

On Monday May 3, starting at 11am, the tradition of parading a working horse on the May Day Holiday will be followed. After a long Pennine winter, the horse will nearly be in its sleek summer coat.

At Tunnel End, visitors will be able to see how a horse was worked as a packhorse, wagon horse, or boat horse before the tunnel opened for use in 1811.

guided walk will follow the er Standedge, to Diggle, then horse-drawn to Uppermill unnel End, at 1pm 'legging' tunnel and arriving at Diggle A four-mile guided walk boathorse over Standedge the boat will be horse-dr starting at Tunnel End, a through the tunnel and arri between 3.30 and 4pm.

t Maria will be on display, nd, Marsden. On pril 26 she will travel from Tunnel est Slaithwaite. On Tuesday est Slaithwaite to Slaithpril 28 from Slaithdersfield, on Thursday April 29 West Slaithwaite and pril 30, from West unnel End where Maria day and Sunday May Horseboat Maria will be on displa moored at Tunnel End, Mar Monday April 26 she will tr End, to Booth, West Slaithw April 27 from West Slaithw waite, on Wednesday April 28 waite to Huddersfield, on Thursda from Huddersfield to West Slaithw then, on Friday April Slaithwaite back to Tunnel End w will be moored on Saturda 1 and 2. The Horseboating Society itiner 2010 also includes events on Thursda 22 - a journey fromGuide Bridge to Lock 8w Heyrod, Huddersfield Narr April 24 - a journey from Lock 8w Heyr Lock 21w Uppermill, and a Sad Museum (non-boating) visit April 24.

Society itinerary for ents on Thursday April omGuide Bridge to Lock 8w, dersfield Narrow Canal, Friday om Lock 8w Heyrod to mill, and a Saddleworth ting) visit on Saturday and Thursday May 6 Uppermill to Guide Bridge on the Ashton Canal.

Society members and lcome. Horseboating vided on journeys and on On Tuesday May 4 and Thursda there are sailings from Upper Bridge on the Ashton Canal. * New Horseboating Society members crew are always welco training is provided on occasional training days. * Crew and 'leggers' are al are welcomed by the society * CONTACT: For further inf on line to: www.horseboa e always needed and y the society.

ther information go seboating.org.uk or email Sue Day at sueday_horse@yahoo.co 01457-834863, 07711-121-056 .co.uk or call 01457-834863, 07711-121-056
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 3, 2010
Words:828
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