Canoeists can now paddle under the Pennines along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The Canal & River Trust officially opened Foulridge Tunnel to canoes last Saturday.
Until now, the mile-long, 200-year-old tunnel, looked after by the Canal & River Trust, has been enjoyed solely by canal boats.
Now, canoeists can paddle through and experience travelling under the Pennines for the first time, as part of the charity’s ambitious plans for the UK’s first coast-to-coast canoe trail.
The tunnel’s opening saw 50 young people and canoe enthusiasts take part in the launch event. Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust welcomed guests before cutting a ribbon across the tunnel to open proceedings, and joining the paddle.
Mr Parry said: “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.”
Foulridge Tunnel was built in 1796 to make the canal navigable from Leeds to Burnley. It is a highlight of the Desmond Family Canoe Trail that will stretch for 162 miles, connecting Liverpool to Goole along the canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation. The trail,funded by the Desmond Foundation, has the support of British Canoeing and Canoe England.
Chantelle Seaborn, of the Canal & River Trust, 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.”