Thursday, 3 September 2009

Scenic Settle to Carlisle Railway

Well, what a day it has been. It all started with the 9.26am train from Skipton to Carlisle. The gentleman in the ticket office was most helpful by advising us where to sit in the train to get the best views. The weather on the trip North was good so we got to see some spectacular views.

Settle to Carlisle 008 Views from the train on the Settle to Carlisle line across Yorkshire Moors and Dales.

Settle to Carlisle 029

The history of this ex Midland Railway line is one of historic importance in that it took 6 years to build using up to 7000 navvies many of whom had been involved in building the canals. Shanty towns sprang up to house these guys and their families who didn’t have an easy life because the men played as hard as they worked. There is one story of a drunken navvy throwing a stick of dynamite into the fire at the hotel and demolishing the kitchen.  Some of the towns eventually became permanent with their own stations.

Settle to Carlisle 033 Kirkby Stephen Station on the Settle to Carlisle line. Closed 1970 re-opened 2005.

The line finally opened to passengers in 1876 and was a great asset to the Midland Railway being named England’s most scenic railway.. However after Dr Beeching started to close many branch lines the Settle to Carlisle came under scrutiny and in 1970 all the local stations on the line were closed except Settle and Appleby. Again in 1981 British Railways proposed closing the line completely citing maintenance cost of the 24 arch Ribblehead viaduct. This caused a national furore and even some MP’s and local Authorities climbed on the band wagon to save the line. The Ribblehead viaduct was given a top to toe restoration and due to increased patronage 8 stations were re-opened including the Ribblehead  In 1986 British Railways eventually succumbed to the pressure and the line was saved for perpetuity.

Settle to Carlisle 039Carlisle Railway Station.

This 72 mile long line with it’s 20 viaducts and 14 tunnels is easily Britain’s equivalent of Canada’s Rocky Mountain railroad which boasts it’s own scenic train.  If the British Government had any brain’s they would follow Canada’s lead and do likewise. A start was made in 1992 where a non profit development company was formed to encourage development of the line and the branch to Morecambe. To raise funds for station restoration etc the Settle – Carlisle Railway Trust has volunteers manning a visitor centre at Ribblehead station and refreshment trolley services on Northern Rails scheduled services between Leeds and Carlisle. The trust are at present restoring another 2 stations to their Midland Railway glory.

Settle to Carlisle 097-4Ribblehead Viaduct with 24 Arches

There was another side to today’s little foray and that was that another steam train special was travelling from Lancaster to Carlisle which arrived in Carlisle a couple of hours after us so we were able to film it. Upon our return to Skipton we broke our journey at Ribblehead to enable us to film the steam train crossing the Ribblehead viaduct on its return journey. While waiting for the big event the weather closed in and we had to take refuge in the pub at the foot of the viaduct. When the train arrived about 30 minutes early the rain eased off enough to allow filming. It transpired the the BBC also had a film crew on the train and filming it at selected locations along the line. Today’s steam loco was the LMS class 5 “Leander” in LMS colours.

Settle to Carlisle 069 LMS class 5 XP “Leander” heading the “Fellsman” at Carlisle.

It’s been a tiring day, more photos tomorrow when they have been sorted…….

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