Settle to Carlisle Railway.

The 72 mile long section of railway between Settle and Carlisle, forms part of the line from Leeds to the terminus at Carlisle station.

Constructed by the Midland Railway, and officially opened to passenger traffic in 1876, it was saved from closure with the efforts of the Friends of the Settle – Carlisle line on April 11th 1989.

Now the track is maintained by Network Rail, with daily train services between Leeds and Carlisle, operated by Northern Rail, using diesel sprinter trains.

Volunteers from the friends of the line, have shops at Settle, and Appleby stations, where drinks and souvenirs of the line can be purchased.

Funds raised by the group of volunteers, help to maintain and upkeep all the stations along the line. Another function carried out by the few dedicated people, is to travel on some of the trains as a guide, giving a descriptive narrative of the various land marks and other interesting features throughout the journey. The train travels through the spectacular scenery of the Yorkshire Dales and the Eden Valley, passing over 19 viaducts, through 14 tunnels, and stopping at 9 stations before arriving at Carlisle Station.

A few of the notable points of interest along the route are as follows.

The longest of the 19 viaducts is the one at Ribblehead, which crosses the river Ribble.

With 24 arches, the curved structure is 440 yards long, and is 104 feet above the valley at its highest point. Taking 4 years to build, the viaduct was completed in 1874, and during this period, 100 navvies were killed in its construction.

Blea Moor tunnel holds the record of being the longest tunnel on the line at 2629 yards long.

Also taking 4 years in the making, the tunnel passes under Blea Moor at a depth of 500 feet.

At 1150 feet above sea level, the station at Dent is the highest main line station in England.

Hell Gill Force waterfall, at Mallerstang, is the source of the 90 mile long River Eden.

Flowing down the Eden valley, the river follows the railway line most of the way, gradually increasing in size, until it joins the Solway Firth estuary, and then into the sea.

Near to Kirkby Stephen, on the banks of the River Eden, stands the ruins of Pendragon Castle.

The Castle was built during the 12th century by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur.

On the station platform at Garsdale, is a life-size bronze statue of a border collie named Ruswarp.

 The only dog to sign the petition, belonged to Graham Nuttal, who was a founder member of the group, determined to save the line from closure. Graham went walking in January 1990, and never returned. His body was found in April 1990 with Ruswarp by his side. Having stayed with his master all this time, the faithful hound lived until just after Graham’s funeral. The statue was erected in 2009, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the lines reprieve.

As well as the daily passenger services run by Northern Rail, special steam hauled private charter trains often run throughout the year on this popular tourist attraction. Regular heavy freight trains also use the line, delivering coal to the power stations of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, gypsum to a plaster board factory at Kirby Thore, as well as general goods traffic.

With the railway keeping  busy with passenger and freight services, the friends of the  Settle – Carlisle Railway are looking forward to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the reprieve in April 2014.

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