Walking the Huddersfield Narrow Canal – Huddersfield to Marsden

Canal walks have a strong pull with their unfolding landscapes, wildlife, alternative and intriguing lifestyle options and the general calm and peace they bestow on all those who walk along them.

Take a turn from the industrial town centre of Huddersfield, away from the view of the historic landmark of Castle Hill and the Victoria Tower dominating the skyline, onto the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal for a walk with lots of offer.

Walking along this 8-mile stretch of canal, you pass through the villages of Milnsbridge, Slaithwaite and Marsden before finally reaching the Standedge Tunnel – Britain’s highest, deepest and longest canal tunnel.  The scenery along the towpath is full of dramatic contrasts: urban life, crumbling historic mills, industrial buildings and leafy woodland later give way to stunning views of rolling, rugged hills.  It’s a walk that has everything and more, from Huddersfield’s industrial centre to the tranquil greenness of the Colne Valley. Heading towards Slaithwaite, you’ll reach beautiful open countryside and long-distance views of villages sitting high above the valley.

The Slaithwaite to Marsden section is particularly picturesque, leafy and green with the contrast of the black and white locks.  Along this stretch, intriguing paths leaving the main towpath entice the walker to explore the woodlands and delve deeper into the countryside.  Once back on the towpath, this canal walk ends at the landmark Standedge Tunnel. Here is an opportunity to take in the views, have refreshments at the Watersedge Café and visit the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre. This tells the story of the tunnel, from its planning through 200+ years of history, including its rescue, restoration and reopening in 2001.

This is a fabulous walk with so many options for diversions along the way. You could visit the beautiful canalside mill villages of Slaithwaite (pronounced ‘Sla-wit’, or ‘Slath-wait’ if you are local) and Marsden, where you’ll find an abundance of independent shops, pubs and eateries.   

Returning back to the start of your walk is easy:

  • If you are feeling fit, there’s the option for a return 8-mile walk, retracing your steps while continuing to take in the lovely scenery back to Huddersfield
  • Bus/Rail – There are train stations and bus options at the villages along the way, taking you straight back to Huddersfield

This walk of ever-changing landscapes, arriving at the edge of the wild beauty of the Marsden Moor Estate, is a celebration of the collaboration of industry and nature, of the man-made and natural and of the history between the two.

For more ramblings about walks, pub stops along the way and the love of the outdoors, you can follow @rocknramblers on Instagram.

Photographs: Julie James/Peter Claxton

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