Foulridge Tunnel

Previously, Foulridge Tunnel was a source of annoyance. Walking down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal from Barnoldswick to Colne requires one to leave the towpath on account of the canal disappearing into the bowels of the earth. Last week, when I was aboard a narrowboat, I was able to enter that dark world of eighteenth-century engineering. At over 0.9 miles long, it takes 15-20 minutes to get through on a narrowboat with a traffic light system at either end designed to prevent awkward rendezvous. Once inside, but for a few airholes, it is dark and cold, the walls and roof dripping with water. Constructed between 1792 and 1796, it was described as ‘the most complete work of the kind in England, if not in Europe’.

As one enters, the exit appears as a little white dot amidst the gloom. It naturally increases in size as one progresses, but only as the entrance decreases commensurately. There must be a middle point at which both tunnel entrances appear equally-sized. Several of us on board remarked about there being "light at the end of the tunnel", which I daresay people have quipped since the time of good King George. Not all canal tunnels allow the end to be seen; some are curved, forbidding a view of either entrance or exit, or both, at the same time. Foulridge Tunnel is wonderfully straight, allowing us the sensation of slowly approaching an ever widening semicircle of light.

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ is a convenient phrase used by people of all creeds to describe a given problem’s temporal nature, or its conclusion being well within sight. Yet this life is an entire raft of problems, illnesses, disagreements and deprivations. Only the tunnel of death can end the cruel misery of living in a fallen world:

“Is there not a time of hard service for man on earth?

Are not his days also like the days of a hired man?

Like a servant who earnestly desires the shade,

And like a hired man who eagerly looks for his wages,

So I have been allotted months of futility,

And wearisome nights have been appointed to me. (Job 7:1-3, NKJV)


We Christians have more hope than this, and so too did poor Job when the Lord appeared to Him towards the close of his book. The light at the end of the tunnel is not just a cessation of problems or the silent grave, but the Lord Jesus Himself awaiting our homecoming:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12, NKJV

The darker the darkness, the brighter His light as we approach.