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Standedge is located in United Kingdom
Map showing the location of Standedge in the United Kingdom

Standedge (normally pronounced Stannige) is a moorland escarpment in the Pennine Hills of northern England. Located between Marsden and Diggle, on the edges of the metropolitan counties of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester respectively, Standedge has been a major moorland crossing point since Roman times and possibly earlier.

From east to west, Standedge is crossed on the surface by no fewer than five generations of road crossing, the earliest being a Roman road from York to Chester, whilst the latest is the current A62. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the railway line from Leeds to Manchester both burrow below Standedge through the Standedge Tunnels. The Pennine Way long distance footpath also crosses Standedge, but in this case the path runs south to north along the Pennines.

Much of Standedge forms part of the National Trust's Marsden Moor Estate. From an administrative perspective, Standedge is split between the metropolitan boroughs of Kirklees and Oldham. Standedge should not be confused with Stanage, an escarpment in the Derbyshire Peak District with a very similar sounding name.


Surface crossings

Standedge seen from the top of nearby Pule Hill. The A62 cutting and Redbrook reservoir can be seen.

The earliest known crossing of Standedge is the Roman road connecting the Roman forts of Slack and Castleshaw, on the way from York to Chester. The road is believed to have been built in AD80. Its course was identified in 1969 to the north-east of Castleshaw fort, climbing Standedge Ridge by means of a graded terraceway. The road was originally more than 22 feet (6.7 m) wide but has been considerably eroded.[1][2]

After the roman road fell into disuse, travel across the moors was restricted to simple tracks, used by packhorses. One such crossed from Marsden to Rochdale. Narrow and steep packhorse bridges can still be found in several places on the moors, including the Close Gate Bridge near Marsden.[1]

The first metalled road from Huddersfield to Manchester was built in 1760. This was followed by another road, known locally as the coach road, was built by John Metcalf (Blind Jack of Knaresborough) in 1791. It crossed the Pennine ridge south of the present Standedge cutting.[1]

In 1839 the coach road was replaced by a new turnpike road, the Wakefield and Austerlands Toll Road. Trenches were cut in the coach road, to prevent it being used as a free alternative. This route is still used today by the A62 road, crossing the summit of Standedge in a cutting. However the more recent M62 motorway that carries most cross Pennine road traffic uses a different route to the north of Standedge.[1]

Tunnel crossings

Entrance to Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal

Four parallel tunnels run under Standedge from Diggle to Marsden. The single canal tunnel is the oldest of these, having been opened in 1811 as part of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and is still in use. The three railway tunnels were opened respectively in 1848, 1871 and 1894, and only the 1894 tunnel still carries rail traffic.

All four tunnels are linked by cross-tunnels or adits at strategic locations within the tunnels, and the 1848 rail tunnel has been made accessible to road vehicles so as to be used as an emergency access and evacuation route for the other tunnels.

Standedge today

Standedge is a sparsely populated area, although it does have two public houses, both within a few hundreds metres of each other along the A62 road.There are also a couple of reservoirs and pathways for hikers to walk along.

Standedge can be accessed by bus on the 184 service running between Huddersfield and Manchester via Oldham. The service is jointly run by First Manchester and First Calderdale & Huddersfield.


  1. ^ a b c d "Communications and Transport in the Marsden area". Marsden Local History Group. Retrieved January 7, 2007.  
  2. ^ "RIGODVNVM". Retrieved January 8, 2007.  

Coordinates: 53°34′59.51″N 01°58′8.51″W / 53.5831972°N 1.9690306°W / 53.5831972; -1.9690306



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