ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Specialty Travel & Tours

TRAVEL NORTH - 12: HERITAGE TRAIN TRAVEL, Around The Southern & Western Dales

Updated on January 31, 2018

Take in the views, let the scenery absorb you

Ribblehead steam with Ingleborough behind. The locomotive is one of the preserved ex-LMS fleet
Ribblehead steam with Ingleborough behind. The locomotive is one of the preserved ex-LMS fleet | Source
The 50th Peppercorn Pacific class A1 built at Darlington hurries along with a passenger special on the Settle & Carlisle Railway
The 50th Peppercorn Pacific class A1 built at Darlington hurries along with a passenger special on the Settle & Carlisle Railway | Source
The Settle & Carlisle Railway, the Midland Railway's route to Scotland. 'Planning' consisted of a line on a map, yet the route has stood the test of time
The Settle & Carlisle Railway, the Midland Railway's route to Scotland. 'Planning' consisted of a line on a map, yet the route has stood the test of time
The Northern England network set against an outline of Britain - Italian source, note 'Londra' for London
The Northern England network set against an outline of Britain - Italian source, note 'Londra' for London | Source

The Midland Main Line to Carlisle - the line along the 'spine' of England

You can't beat it for scenery, walking, cycling or driving along the Settle & Carlisle Railway past Horton in Ribblesdale and Ribblehead with its long, high stone viaduct. This is Three Peaks country, Pen Y Gent, Ingleborough and Great Whernside overshadow the railway. Use Ribblehead's small station as a centre of operations if you plan to walk or cycle. There's usually a mobile snackbar at the car park by the Hawes-Ingleton road. Or stop off at the walkers' cafe at Horton with its wide choice of meals, snacks, hot and cold drinks and sweets (such as Kendal Mint Cake, useful as an energy boost for cyclists and walkers). 'Clock in' if you plan to walk, and tell the counter staff when you expect to get back.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Settle & Carlisle Railway

A guide to the myths behind the history of the Midland Railway's Settle & Carlisle route with its history and lore, ghosts abound on the bleak mountains and moorlands. Suicides and tragic accidents, negligence and sheer miscalculation helped put the Midland Railway's 'finger' on the map to Carlisle. A director said, "Build the line here", and drew a line in one of the least hospitable stretches along the Pennines from south to north. The gangs of navvies who built the railway came from across Britain, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, many - with their kith and kin - also died from disease. The survivors went on elsewhere to build other lines or mines.

One of the more historic and scenic railways still extant in the British Isles, the line was threatened with closure by the Thatcher government in the 1980s. Thanks to Michael Portillo, then Transport Minister - and public pressure - it was reprieved. Although not as expensive as initially estimated, a large cash injection was necessary on one of its greatest landmarks, the Ribblehead Viaduct, in order to ensure the line stayed open for the foreseeable future.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Treat yourself to a spectacle

Steam special on the S&CR headed by one of the preserved LMS locomotives
Steam special on the S&CR headed by one of the preserved LMS locomotives
A1 Pacific 'Tornado' heads an up steam special over Ribblehead viaduct on a sunny afternoon
A1 Pacific 'Tornado' heads an up steam special over Ribblehead viaduct on a sunny afternoon | Source

Taking a trip to the Dales? Why drive if you can take a leisurely ride on a train?

On the south-western side of the Dales there are three railways to choose from. Two are preserved railways, one is still part of the British railway network.

Let's take the shortest first. You can take the longest one - the Settle & Carlisle or S&CR - to get to Skipton in what is now part of North Yorkshire, but is traditionally the West Riding. Skipton is close to Embsay at one end of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway (E&BAR), itself run by volunteers of the Yorkshire Dales Railway Trust (YDRT).

Before going on through Skipton to Embsay, take a good look at the solid Skipton Castle. Once owned by the great Lady Anne Clifford - who through marriage at one time owned a string of fortified properties in the north, including Danby Castle near Whitby - Skipton was restored by her from its ruinous state.

At Embsay Station you can buy a return ticket to Bolton Abbey Station and ride on a short train through the undulating, lush green countryside of the lower Dales. Bolton Abbey Station is used as a working base by several smaller preservation groups, including one I am loosely connected with that is restoring a 1903 North Eastern Railway petrol-electric railcar and passenger trailer. The railcar was 'pensioned off' in the late 1930s, from when it was used as a static caravan near Pickering from where the group acquired it a few years ago for restoration. Nearby are the famed ruins of Bolton Abbey, an Augustinian priory laid waste under Henry VIII's orders during the dissolution. The great challenge here is the line of stepping stones across the upper River Wharfe that you need to cross to reach the abbey on land owned by the Duke of Devonshire.

Take the Settle & Carlisle Railway also to visit the next railway. Longer (probably about three times the distance) than the E&BAR, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) takes you from Keighley (surprise, surprise) to Haworth through Bronte country. It is also Railway Children country, the film of E. Nesbit's book was made here in 1970 with Jenny Agutter, Sally Thomsett, Gary Warren and Bernard Cribbins,

Like the E&BAR and S&CR, the K&WVR was part of the Midland Railway network in the north of England. The British railway totems abound at all the railway's stations, with their characteristic large-windowed 'boxy' signal boxes. There is a variety of ex-LMS locomotive, crimson lake-liveried corridor and non-corridor passenger stock and goods wagons, a great day out for the kids (don't try to put one over on us, Mister, you're a big kid when it comes to steam railways)! At the other end of the line from Keighley is Haworth, home of the Bronte family. The parsonage with its squat church is on the old Main Street, not far from the station. The street is still as it would have been in the 19th Century, with its dark cobbles and the drainage channel down the centre. The Bronte family are buried in their private vault in the church, except Anne who was taken to Scarborough to recuperate from an illness contracted in Haworth and is buried in tSt Mary's churchyard near the castle (the drain down Main Street was polluted).

Now for the big one, the S&CR. Initiated by the Midland Railway to compete in the Races to the North in the mid-19th Century, the railway was hard-wrought from the land. Several viaducts were built to carry the line across steep dales and deep peat bogs that cost the lives of many 'Inland Navigators' as the railway builders' labourers were known, otherwise 'Navvies'. Whole carts with their loads of building stone and the horses were swallowed up until the railway's owners approached George Stephenson for advice (he had already built the railway from Whitby to Pickering and Liverpool to Manchester over similar terrain). In places the Midland Railway's S&CR connected with the North Eastern Railway, as at Garsdale and Kirkby Stephen, one of its main competitors for routes to Scotland. The Midland never actually reached Scotland, converging as it did with the London & North Western Railway from Euston via Crewe and the North Eastern Railway's Newcastle-Carlisle Railway.

For scenery there's little competition. The route originated in the West Riding city of Leeds, and ran via Keighley and Skipton to Settle. Previously the railway finished there, and there was no hardship to it. It was the directors who held the ambition to take it further, and drew a line on the map to 'link' Settle with Carlisle without ever setting foot in the Pennines! Since it is there, many put considerable energy into keeping the line in the 1960s, when it was threatened with closure by Dr Beeching's report, 'Re-Shaping Britain's Railways'. Steam Specials were contracted to run from Leeds to Carlisle to put pressure on British Railways to keep the line open. Local communities tried to impress on the powers-that-be that the railway was a lifeline in winter, where all roads are rendered impassible.

Seeing is believing. If you haven't at least set foot near the longest viaduct at Ribblehead, you don't know what you're missing! The route passes places like Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Kirkby Stephen, Garsdale, Dent and Appleby, passes the Three Peaks, Great Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen y Gent where annual cycle and running races are held for the hardy (some say foolhardy). The cycle race calls for several cycles to be used by each rider for the extremes in terrain. It is also prime walking territory, although care must be taken in wet weather. Those peat bogs are deep! You'd disappear into them if you left the footpaths and no-one would be the wiser.

Still, see the land, and let the train take the strain!

Next - 13: Railway Trips in the Eastern Dales, Moors - and a dream put on hold on the Durham Fell

Embsay & Bolton Abbey and Keighley & Worth Valley Railways

Scottish owned Gresley design and built at Darlington in the 1920s, D49/1 4-4-0 No. 246 "Morayshire" stands on the coalong road on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway
Scottish owned Gresley design and built at Darlington in the 1920s, D49/1 4-4-0 No. 246 "Morayshire" stands on the coalong road on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway | Source
Bolton Abbey Station, E&BAR, a section of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway left unchanged and painted in Midland Railway livery
Bolton Abbey Station, E&BAR, a section of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway left unchanged and painted in Midland Railway livery | Source
The extent of the Embsay &  Bolton Abbey Railway, showing local roads and footpath networks
The extent of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway, showing local roads and footpath networks | Source
Embsay Station, view along the platform shows a traditionally painted station sign
Embsay Station, view along the platform shows a traditionally painted station sign | Source
USA 2-8-0 tank locomotive barks against the grade in Southern Railway livery on the E&BAR
USA 2-8-0 tank locomotive barks against the grade in Southern Railway livery on the E&BAR | Source
Preserved B1 4-6-0 on a visit to the K&WVR makes a halt at Damems Station
Preserved B1 4-6-0 on a visit to the K&WVR makes a halt at Damems Station | Source
Route map of the Keighley (pron. 'Keithley') & Worth Valley Railway
Route map of the Keighley (pron. 'Keithley') & Worth Valley Railway | Source
Oxenhope Station, a Standard Class 2-6-0 stands at the platform with a train for Keighley
Oxenhope Station, a Standard Class 2-6-0 stands at the platform with a train for Keighley | Source
A scene during the making of the feature film 'The Railway Children' (penned by E Nesbitt) during 1970
A scene during the making of the feature film 'The Railway Children' (penned by E Nesbitt) during 1970 | Source
Keighley station at the north-eastern end of the line - the site was used during the making of the film "Yanks" staring Richard Gere, depicting the station setting as 1944, US troops leaving for embarkation pre-D-Day
Keighley station at the north-eastern end of the line - the site was used during the making of the film "Yanks" staring Richard Gere, depicting the station setting as 1944, US troops leaving for embarkation pre-D-Day | Source

There are several railway routes across the Pennines and Dales in Yorkshire and the North in general where branches have been closed and lifted - each can be followed by the reasonably fit either on foot or by pedal power. and each route includes a selection of good public houses or inns and hotels to rest your aching limbs afterward

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Thanks Nell. I'd take the train all the time but to get to some places you have to drive. It's worth taking the day out from driving if you have the time, though.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi alan, I always take the train as I don't drive, long story! lol! and it never fails to amaze me why other people don't. I think with all the cars on the road you just can't get to see such wonderful sights as you can from a train. We used to have the Marlow Donkey train here years ago, it was a good old steam puffer and it was lovely. Not so sure about the modern ones for comfort as that one was. I tend to go down from Reading to Bournemouth or farther in Cornwall, its such a lovely train run, through the New Forest and then taking the train across to Clovelly. That way we went on the Tarka line, and followed the stream all the way to clovelly, it was called the Tarka line because of the film Ring of bright Water, really interesting and different hub, thanks! voted up! cheers nell

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)