The Settle-Carlisle Railway

72 miles of track, 20 viaducts, 14 tunnels and 11 stations……..probably the most scenic railway journey in England.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway was originally opened in 1876 and despite a couple of attempts to close it, most recently in the 1980s, it thrives today having had millions of pounds spent upgrading tracks and stations. The service today comprises modern diesel trains with occasional steam and diesel charter trains, and frequent freight trains. These are predominantly coal from Scotland traveling to Yorkshire power stations.

Settle the starting point of the Settle-Carlisle Railway. As you leave the station see the Settle Water Tower as featured on Channel 4’s The Restoration Man. Settle is a bustling market town, with wonderful cafés and friendly pubs which welcome muddy boots. Tuesday is Market Day in Settle but if you can’t get to Settle on a Tuesday there are plenty of interesting independent shops to explore situated around the market place and down cobbled lanes. In Upper Settle visit the Gallery on the Green, a small art gallery housed in a former BT Telephone Box. A short climb up Castleburg Rock gives a fantastic view of the town without too much effort!

A short walk from the Horton station brings you into the village of Horton. Most people will start and finish the 3 Peak Challenge walk of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough from Horton-In-Ribblesdale. Walkers or runners not taking part in an organised event may wish to start and finish at the Pen-Y-Ghent Cafe, making use of it’s famous antique ‘clocking’ machine to record their eventual challenge times. Horton is also famous for caving and potholing and every year thousands of people discover the beauty that lies underground.

From the south platform of Ribblehead station it is possible to see to the west Ingleborough, to the north Whernside, and the south  Pen-y -Ghent; the 3 Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales. Ribblehead is in a very remote location but has been made famous for its magnificent 24 arch viaduct. Ribblehead station now houses a Visitor Centre in the refurbished station building.

Dent is the highest mainline station in England. It is 1150 feet above sea level and is positioned almost half way between Leeds and Carlisle. Four miles away from Dent station is Dent village – located within beautiful Dentdale. Dent still retains a feel of the past with its cobbled streets and colour-washed stone cottages.

Garsdale is arguably the most spectacularly situated station on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Although lower than Dent (the highest station in England), it lies well above the 1000 foot contour on a back road, surrounded by quiet fells. The line from the north curves impressively into the station across Dandry Mire viaduct, famed for ‘floating’ across the boggy Mire. A mile away from the station is the Moorcock Inn – it is all uphill on the return trip, and takes a good twenty minutes.

Kirkby Stephen is a small traditional market town in the Upper Eden Valley and around a 25 minute drive from Frith Lodge. It makes for an interesting decision whether to go North first or South! It is a traditional market town of historic buildings, cobbled yards, quaint corners and interesting shops. Kirkby Stephen is remote from large towns and centres and has therefore developed a strong, self-sufficient identity and vibrant sense of community.

Appleby offers a wealth of places to visit gorgeous scenery and many opportunities for walkers and nature lovers. The Eden Valley is an outstanding area for walking with the town centre being an ideal starting point for dozens of walks over the surrounding fell countryside. Weather it’s a brisk walk or a slow stroll around some of the spectacular views, Appleby is sure to have something for everyone. Appleby has a lot of charm and character, the town centre is proof of that. With a wide selection of individual and interesting shops from galleries, homeware, gifts and books, it may not be in the same shopping league as larger towns, but Appleby is sure to tempt you and there is something to suit all tastes and budgets. Shopping or just looking, Appleby makes for a lovely day out while still admiring the stunning scenery Eden has to offer.

Walk from the station at Langwathby to the road and head down the hill to the village. A large village green occupies the centre of the village and is bordered by cottages, farmhouses and a pub, the Shepherd’s Inn. Beside the village green is St Peter’s Church, built in 1718, but with some parts inside dating from medieval times. Children still dance around the maypole on the village green on the third Saturday in May.

Between Lazonby and Langwathby is the second largest stone circle after Stonehenge, Long Meg and her Daughters, which dates from 2500BC. You can walk from Lazonby to Langwathby Station, passing Long Meg on the way – walk over the Eden Bridge then immediately go over a stile on the right and follow the field paths. Refer to OS 1:25000 map OL5, English Lakes (north-east) to see exactly where to go for both Long Meg and Lacy’s Caves. Lazonby is one of the few villages in the Eden Valley that can boast to have its own swimming pool. The outdoor heated swimming pool is open April to September each year. More details at www.lazonbypool.co.uk.

The village of Armathwaite is nestled in the Eden Valley, not far from the Railway Station but down a fairly steep footpath. It is a beautiful peaceful village with a couple of pubs. Just south of Armathwaite, right beside the river, there is the remarkable feature of five faces carved in the sandstone rock.

Carlisle is a 2000-year-old border city between England and Scotland, and has become a popular shopping destination. There are guided walks of the city which can booked through the Tourist Information Centre. Carlisle is also famous for Hadrian’s Wall, the Cathedral and Tullie House.

settle-carlisle.co.uk