Pennine Waterways News

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Boathorses and Cuckoos at Standedge!

Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre will be hosting a variety of events and activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy as part of this year's Cuckoo Festival.

The Cuckoo Festival, held on Saturday 25th April this year, celebrates the first arrival of the Cuckoo and the beginning of Spring. It is a popular local festival and a major highlight in the Marsden event calendar. The cuckoo heralded the start of the warmer weather and legend has it that the people of Marsden built a huge wall to try to prolong the cuckoo's visit!

Activities on the day, starting at 10.00 am, include pond dipping, canal craft sessions, face painting, clog dancing and Morris dancing. There will be guided nature and heritage walks, organised by British Waterways and the Huddersfield Canal Society, starting from the Station car park at 11.00 am.

The day finishes with a fun and lively evening's entertainment at Marsden Mechanics Hall.

In addition, members of The Horseboating Society will be re-enacting the historic practice of legging through Standedge Tunnel. On board will be special guest Ronnie Barnes, aged 90, who is the last surviving Standedge Tunnel 'legger'. He will be travelling through the tunnel on the traditional horseboat Maria, built in 1854. The boat is expected to exit the tunnel at Tunnel End at around 4.00 pm.

Meanwhile Bilbo the Boathorse, having hauled the boat up from Ashton, will walk over the top, as did the boathorses of old. The crew will start legging Maria from the Diggle end at around 1.00 pm. Energetic members of the public are welcome to walk over the top with Bilbo, arriving at Tunnel End at around 3.00 pm.

Look out for Maria being horse-drawn down to Huddersfield and then back to Marsden in the following week. The boat will be legged back through Standedge Tunnel on Sunday May 3rd, starting at around 1.00 pm. Details of the journey are on

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