Posts Tagged ‘Cumbria’


December 11, 2015

I can often enjoy the lesser known places more than those that attract tourists in hordes. If I consider two Cumbria towns which are about 9 miles apart in a straight line, I have a personal preference for the lesser known (and smaller) of the two. Kendal is well known as the gateway to the lakes (and also for mint cake). It’s a thriving, bustling place and has plenty of attractive sites and buildings. But I much prefer the quieter, smaller Sedbergh.

image002 For the most part the streets are ordinary enough but actually, the shops are interesting and not those you find in every big town.

Where else, for example, could you buy these?


No, I don’t know what they are either, but I didthink they looked delightful.

As in many Cumbrian towns and villages, you move just off the main road to find building beauty.


Buildings like these just seem to harmonise with the landscape.

Sedbergh has plenty of surrounding landscape!


I do like it when shopkeepers make an effort – like this one on Finkle Street.


Some fine sheep peer out of the upstairs windows.

Yes, Sedbergh is a lovely little town – and it has the essentials. You can buy things you need there as well as plenty of less essential items.



Arten Gill

November 22, 2015

The railway line between Ribblehead and Dent is dramatic in scenery and engineering. What is the case, in my eyes, is that the Victorian railway engineering actually enhances the natural beauty of the area.

Ribblehead Viaduct is well known and I have featured that on this blog. Soon after northbound trains cross the viaduct they plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel – well over a mile and a half long. Once through that there are a couple more significant viaducts before England’s highest station at Dent is reached. One of the viaducts is over Arten Gill.

This is Arten Gill viaduct as seen from near Dent Station. It is in a remote location, but once Arten Gill was a veritable hive of industry.


Having left this good view point, I realised a freight train was about to cross the viaduct so I found another, less good viewpoint and snapped.


Having had these glimpses, I had to take a closer look.


Now that is glorious. It is taller than Ribble
head and the confined location probably makes it look taller still. And here’s my wife as we start to get up close to the viaduct.


Yes, it is a fine view down Arten Gill.


The viaduct is made of the local stone which is called Dent marble but is actually a form of limestone.


This time we were lucky enough to see a passenger train cross the viaduct.


What a lovely, lonely location. Building the viaduct there almost beggars belief.

The toposcope up Flinter Gill

November 14, 2015

I like toposcopes and am pleased to have picked up an English name for them. I have tended to give them their French name of ‘table d’orientation’.

On a recent holiday we clambered (a stony footpath, not a mountain climb) up Flinter Gill from Dent. On a convenient knoll near the top, a toposcope had been erected. It gave the distances to mountain peaks along with their heights.

We’d have liked better weather, but you take what you get in mid-October.

image002There it is – a neat stone built little structure with a metal plate marked with the places fixed on top.



It just needs a person looking at it.


Another of life’s milestones

November 10, 2015

No, I’m not talking about age or achievements. I haven’t ticked anything off a bucket list which I don’t have anyway. I’m talking about a lump of stone by the side of the road telling you how far you are from somewhere.

I believe that turnpike trusts – people allowed to charge for the use of roads, had to erect milestones which were, as the name implies, one mile apart. They imparted, and still do, useful information to the walker, cyclist or horse rider, but maybe not to the motorist of today who zaps past them far too fast to glean any information.

Some, perhaps, are less useful than others. Here’s a case in point.


It is beautifully kept and in a lovely location. It is reasonable to assume we are just one mile from S. But I’d guess not many readers of this will know or guess where S is. There are, by the way, to my observed knowledge, similar stones with S2, S3, S4 and S5.

Well, these stones would be little use to an extra-terrestrial visitor, who dropped in but there again, it may not offer much help to such a visitor if it had the full name of the place which is Sedbergh.

Sedbergh is a lovely little town in Cumbria. It also counts as a Yorkshire Dales town. You’d be pleased to be one mile from the place for that’s only a short distance away and it is well worth a visit.

The contraption up the hill

October 29, 2015

We stayed, for a week, in Dent which is in Cumbria but also in the Yorkshire Dales. That was earlier this month. We had some friends who lived not so far away in Lancashire and they came to see us so we took a walk which took in Dent itself and also Gawthrop, a neighbouring settlement.

As we returned, down the hill from Gawthrop to Dent I came across a contraption on the hillside. To me it looked interesting to my friend it looked like a heap of junk.


That’s me and friend’s wife examining this contraption.

Well actually, it was more interesting than I imagined. It is a mini hydro-electric power station.


The drum shape at this end had enough rust to let us peep in. It contained what I could describe as a water propeller. The hefty tap on the left could control the flow of water to this. At the far end of the shaft there is clearly a dynamo or generator for creating electrical energy from the flowing water.

What a great bit of kit for this steep area, with many a potential flowing gill from which to gather the power.

Even friend admitted it was interesting!

Of course, I’d love to know more about it – like how it came to be in a field and where it had been housed and used.

Barns near Brough

July 8, 2015

On our final June evening in the north Pennines it had become warm enough to go out for a walk without needing Arctic clothing. It was glorious as we set off from our cottage, crossed the little used road and set off into the wide yonder.

image002 The barns are such lovely additions to the local fields. The presence of so many comes from dividing land amongst children. Each inheritor of a field needed a barn and used the ‘to hand’ materials to build it.


Some have fallen into disrepair and what’s left just serves as part of a field boundary.


But those first two clearly survive.

Actually, the nearer one has suffered some roof collapse.


It has an interesting piece of stonework incorporated into it.


The presence of this stone may not indicate that this barn was built in 1688. This may well be a subsequent use of a stone which once adorned a grander building.

Of course for me it begs the probably unanswerable question. Just who was R D?

A ticket from 1962

July 4, 2015

Many people used to buy postcards as cheap holiday souvenirs. Indeed, I was not averse to this but in those train spotting days of the early 1960s I sometimes bought train tickets. OK, they don’t have pretty pictures but they still bring back memories – this time of a brief holiday to the north of England back in June 1962.

We came really close to Scotland and I needed proof – and what better than a railway ticket. We must have stopped at Penton and I bought a cheap ticket – a return to Riddings Junction.

image002Everything about that ticket is right in terms of style, but wrong in terms of some information on it. First of all, it is headed LNER. That’s the London and North Eastern Railway which had ceased to exist when British Railways were nationalised in 1948. Secondly it announces itself as third class. Third class had been abolished in 1956.

I recall the ticket seller persuading me to buy this ticket precisely because it was historic.  I had asked for a single. It cost me 1/6 (7½p) which was more than I usually paid for a souvenir ticket, but this one was rather special. The fact that Riddings Jct has had to be hand written is a good indication that people didn’t travel to that station. This is hardly a surprise if you look at a modern map.


I do not know precisely where the junction station was, but we can see Riddings Farm and Cleugh and nearby two closed railways diverge. The old main line from Carlisle to Edinburgh headed west and the next station was Penton. The line over Liddel Viaduct was a branch to Langholm. Once over the viaduct, the train was in Scotland. There’s a distinct lack of buildings around Riddings. The station was built, not to serve any community but rather to allow passengers to change from one train to another.

The old main line was the infamously closed Waverley route. There’s little doubt this should have survived and indeed, long lengths of it are being rebuilt now as a proper, rather than a heritage railway. The Borders Railway will be 35 miles long on the northern part of the line. Sadly, it won’t reach this area.

This, at least, makes my ticket a historic item in all respects because it now covers a section of line which closed in 1969 as well as being issued under the name of a defunct company and class

Appleby Horse Fair

July 3, 2015

In heading ‘up North’ last month we had no idea about Appleby Horse Fair. On the way up we stopped for a leg stretch at Kirkby Lonsdale and there we encountered gypsy style caravans for the first time.

image002I talked to some of these people and discovered they were heading for Appleby but we still had no idea of just how big the event actually was.

I dare say that to locals it is all a bit of a pain, with roads clogged with slow moving horse drawn vehicles and a little suspicion that always tends to exist between different peoples.

For us, as tourists, it was an added bonus. Many of the ‘caravans’ were delightful and we got used to driving along roads where the verges were lined with these vehicles and also with their motive power, the horses, tethered out. It was all good fun, and if we had to follow a slow vehicle (which virtually never actually happened) then we were in no hurry.

The road between Kirkby Stephen and Brough was particularly full of the travelling people. Their caravan homes had always been called benders by me but locally they were bowtops. And they really did make an attractive sight.


As I drove along the road my wife took pictures from the car. It is never easy to get just what you want but here’s an impression – and of course it isn’t all those beautiful bowtops.


There’s one with wonderfully over the top decoration.


Our other equally difficult to photograph encounter was passing Appleby on the train to Carlisle. A vast tract of countryside was covered in caravans of all types.






Ribblehead to Appleby

January 2, 2015

My life in Tickets

Ribblehead and Appleby are stations on the famous line often referred to as The Settle to Carlisle line. We rode this part of it as a holiday treat for me. Well let’s face it. I am unashamedly a railway enthusiast.

We could have ridden more of the line – we could have continued from Appleby to Carlisle for our return journey was on the same train. But I do like to vary what I do and we decided we’d take a look at Appleby in Westmoreland – a place we didn’t know at all.

Let’s start with the tickets – just standard rail tickets issued by the conductor on the train.


It’s a thirty mile each way journey. I thought the fare of just under a tenner was not bad for 60 miles.

There’s nothing special about the trains. This mixed bag of three carriages is like those you can see all over the country running services on non-electrified routes. Here it is arriving at Ribblehead.


Ribblehead station was probably originally built for railway purposes. It serves no community at all. It didn’t survive the Beeching cuts. It was closed but is now open again. No doubt walkers use it in the summer. We were the only passengers to make use of it for this train.

Modern trains are air conditioned and have no windows you can open to poke a camera through. It makes photography hard. But almost straight out of the station we passed over the Ribblehead Viaduct.


There is almost nothing but beautiful, bleak landscape to be seen. But almost immediately that vanishes as we plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel – a mile and a half long and 500 feet below the surface of Whernside.

We pass over Dent Head viaduct.


Dent station is, if anything, even more remote than Ribblehead. It is beautifully kept.

At Garsdale we notice the statue of Ruswarp an utterly faithful dog with such a sad tale.


You can read about it on a BBC Cumbria page by clicking here.

Garsdale is another isolated station. Soon we reach the River Eden and it is basically all downhill from there.

The valley looks more fertile and more inhabited than the wilder lands above it.


This is Kirkby Stephen Station. From the map we see there is a real village of this name less than a mile away.


As we approach Appleby the scenery continues to get greener and lusher.


We arrive at our destination.


A great little journey and so, of course, was the return.

The Ratty

February 11, 2014

It really is quite some time since I have written anything really about a railway. Indeed, it is quite a time since I have done anything railway or really taken in any trains. But today I shall remember a railway visit back in 1972.

Now the world was different back in 1972. I was a teacher, working full time and my annual – yes, for a whole year – salary was less than one thousand pounds. My wife was a student although by the summer she, too, was a qualified teacher but hadn’t started work. We had bought a house and had a mortgage. We ran a car. We had virtually no spare money for fripperies, but we did manage camping holidays. We went to The Lake District. I recall that we looked at the outside of places. We couldn’t afford to go in. We walked when the weather permitted but of course ‘The Lakes’ is not the driest part of England. We enjoyed lakes, mountains and beaches when we could.

And I enjoyed ‘The Ratty’.

The Ratty is the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Of course, we couldn’t afford to actually ride on it, but railways do provide action pretty cheaply. We could certainly see it. The original line opened in 1875 and it was built to a three feet gauge. Its purpose was to carry iron ore from quarries up the valley of the River Esk to the main railway at Ravenglass. It closed in 1913. But in 1915 Bassett Lowke, a name renowned in the model railway field, re-opened it on a fifteen inch gauge. Although pretty well down to toy size, the Ratty even continued to carry freight as well as passengers. After World War II the line was bought by the Keswick Granite Company but the quarry it served closed in 1953 and the line became a ‘heritage’ line in 1960.


And here is a train at Eskdale Green in 1972. I do believe that’s my car on the left. I bet that parking area has long since been made inaccessible to passing tourists. As we can see, the train was popular and the loco clearly has steam to spare.


Another Ratty train. The countryside is, of course, splendid.

It must be quite tough being footplate crew on these little locos.


The driver looks out over the top of the cab.

For the record, poor weather and a shortage of cash made us cut short this holiday. But it is still remembered with some affection.