Posts Tagged ‘Ribblehead’

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.

Ribblehead Viaduct

December 27, 2014

The Ribblehead Viaduct is one of many huge engineering structures on the railway between Settle and Carlisle. Let’s deal with history and facts first.

Construction started in 1870 and the viaduct was completed in 1874. 1000 navvies worked on it and three separate shanty towns were formed on Batty Moss which the viaduct crosses. The Ribblehead viaduct is fully a quarter of a mile long and 100 feet above the valley floor at its highest point. That’s roughly equivalent to the height of a 10 storey building. There are 24 arches made of the most readily available material which was the local limestone. The foundations are 25 feet deep. The viaduct is not level. The north end is 13 feet higher than the south end. At least 100 navvies were killed during the construction.

To give an idea of the terrain, travellers on the line pass over the viaduct and very soon plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel. This is a mile and a half long and in places 500 feet below the land’s surface.

But back to the viaduct.

We travelled over it by train and alighted at Ribblehead’s remote station before taking a look from ground level.


There is the viaduct with Blea Moor beyond. You need to remember this is a quarter of a mile long to get an idea of how huge it all is.


You get more idea of its enormity when you see just a part of it.


The youthful River Ribble


The post van approaches. The track leads under the viaduct and to some isolated farms.



The site of the shanty towns is a scheduled monument. It is hard to imagine that there was once an engine shed here as well.


Oh, and a brickworks for the tops of the arches.


My wife provides a bit of scale.


The stone pillars are enormous.

The workers who toiled to get the viaduct opened in 1875 are commemorated alongside those who saved it in 1991.



That’s me by the base of one of the arches.


Underneath the arches!


Trains still cross the viaduct.


I, of course, think this viaduct is magnificent. It is made of the moor it crosses and adds to the scene rather than being a violation. That it was built, back in the 1870s, was surely a mistake. But that it survives is surely even more wonderful.


December 19, 2014

Settle and Carlisle (1)

This is a post about a railway line but keep looking for I shall say very little about things technical. Trains will feature only as adjuncts. Above all, the stretch of line I travelled is utterly beautiful.

As a personal opinion, I should say it was a line that should never have been built. It was designed as a third competing route for traffic between England and Scotland. It traversed incredibly difficult areas and served parts of England which, then and now are totally devoid of population.

But let’s be glad it was built and let’s be glad that such locals as there were fought long and hard against plans for closure and in the end, 25 or so years ago, they achieved a wonderful victory and the line was saved. Remote stations were rebuilt and reopened. These days the line seems vibrant and is wonderfully friendly. On one journey on ordinary service trains we got a feel that staff love their line and they have every right to.

Travelling on some of the line was a birthday treat for me. We decided to board the train at Ribblehead.


Ribblehead is famed for its viaduct. Thirty years ago it was said to be crumbling away and beyond hope of repair. The protestors were able to rubbish figures. It was repaired and still carries heavy trains. And it still crumbles. The local limestone it is made of is like that. You’ll forgive me if I think the viaduct complements the scenery rather than violates it

One thing you’ll note is a complete lack of housing although there is a station house, a pub and a cottage or two.


This is the station. There’s a logging siding on the right and I guess this is why, when the station re-opened the down platform was moved a bit up the line. You’ll note, I hope, that the station is spotless. In fact it has the feel of a station on a heritage line, but this is actually a main line with suitably fast trains.

There’s a railway milepost on the wall of the station.


We are 247 and a quarter miles from London.

Lovely scenery – and a complete absence of houses – surrounds the station.


An old station barrow has been converted into a garden.


I love the waiting room windows.


From the station entrance you can see the viaduct, The Station Inn and some three storey cottages.


Our very ordinary train arrives.


We are taking a journey to Appleby.