All aboard the Settle-Carlisle Railway!
A truly remarkable journey
Nestled within the heart of the UK is a railway route that’s more than just a means of getting from A to B; it’s a journey through time and beauty. The Settle-Carlisle Railway, winding its way through the picturesque landscapes of Northern England, is a testament to the ingenuity of Victorian engineers and a tribute to the natural wonders that grace this part of the world. This historic railway route, often hailed as one of the most scenic in the UK, offers customers an experience that combines history, adventure, and breathtaking vistas. Settle – Carlisle Railway – Great Scenic Journeys
The route benefits from the pastoral care, attentiveness and passion of the Settle-Carlisle Development Company who work in partnership with the rail industry, local businesses and community groups to encourage engagement and the development of this iconic, world-renowned route. They are the eyes, ears and beating heart of this amazing route – be sure to visit their fabulous gift shop on Settle station or sample the fine refreshments they sell on board many trains that run on the route. Check out too, this link to discover more about this fabulous organisation and also some of the exciting initiatives being undertaken by them, as well as the fun-packed steam Santa Special on 18 November! Hurry though as seats are selling fast! The Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Company
A trip back in time
The Settle-Carlisle Railway boasts a rich and storied history, dating back to the mid-19th century. Construction of this marvel began in 1869 and spanned six years, employing thousands of labourers and engineers who braved harsh weather and challenging terrains. The railway stretches for 72 miles, taking passengers on a journey through some of the most captivating landscapes in Britain.
But the railway’s history is not without its share of controversies. The route faced opposition and controversy during its construction due to concerns about the environmental impact on the surrounding areas, particularly the pristine Dales and Lakes regions. Fortunately, the visionaries behind the project, such as John Crossley, George Baker, and John Ruskin, were successful in preserving the natural beauty of the region while achieving their goal of connecting Settle-Carlisle via railway. In the late 1980s, it survived by the skin of its teeth from being closed as part of a cost cutting exercise and was reprieved largely due to the efforts of campaigners who could see the potential that the route had as a vital link but also leisure and tourist magnet to the Region and worked tirelessly to galvanise the community and officialdom to invest in a vision that has successfully seen the Settle-Carlisle thrive ever since.
Scenic wonders along the way
Today, the Settle-Carlisle Railway stands as a testament to human engineering and preservation. Its journey takes customers on a visual feast, as the train chugs through an enchanting blend of pastoral landscapes, rolling and rugged hills. Here are some of the scenic highlights along the route:
1. Ribblehead Viaduct: One of the most iconic landmarks on the route, this 24-arch viaduct stands as a striking example of Victorian engineering. It spans the Ribble Valley, offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The Viaduct is probably the most photographed image in the history of the UK’s railway – and you’ll see, as we have shown this again, that we just can’t get enough of it! Ribblehead Station Cafe and Visitor Centre is also well worth a visit with panoramic views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the incredible Viaduct just a short walk away. There’s a range of enthralling displays and speciality coffees and tasty, locally-made snacks too.
Ribblehead Viaduct is a Grade II listed structure and is the third tallest structure on the Settle–Carlisle line.
2. Dent Station: The highest mainline station in England, Dent Station is a charming stop for customers. It provides access to nearby hiking trails, perfect for those who want to explore the Yorkshire Dales. You can feel the fresh air blow the cobwebs away by standing on the platform at this remote but friendly station!
Dent Station which is situated 58 miles and 29 chains north-west of Leeds, serves the villages of Cowgill and Dent.
3. Eden Valley: As the route descends into the Eden Valley, you’ll be treated to a different landscape of lush farmland, quaint villages, and the meandering, swirling River Eden.
4. The Eden Benchmarks: The Settle-Carlisle Railway is a unique platform for art and storytelling. Along the route, you’ll find a series of stone markers, known as the “Eden Benchmarks,” which celebrate the area’s fascinating history and cultural heritage.
5. Carlisle: The journey concludes in the historic city of Carlisle, where you can explore the stunning Carlisle Castle and the Tullie House Museum, or simply enjoy the local cuisine in one of the city’s charming eateries, or maybe enjoy a football match at Brunton Park where Carlisle United play in League 1. Maybe check out the train to Barrow in Furness via Workington and Whitehaven which traverses amazing Cumbrian countryside and a desolate but hidden gem coastline – it’s one of the most beautiful unsung treasures of the UK rail network – after the Settle-Carlisle of course 😉
A journey not to be missed!
Whilst the journey itself is an adventure, there are plenty of opportunities for exploration at the various stations along the route. Settle, Appleby, and Kirkby Stephen are charming towns that invite customers to explore local history, culture, quaint pubs and varied cuisine. In addition, walkers and hikers will find numerous trails branching out from the railway line, making it a hub for outdoor fans. There’s some invigorating guided walks suggested on Walks – The Settle Carlisle Railway (settle-carlisle.co.uk)
The railway is also the gateway to other great experiences beyond, as part of our Great Scenic Journeys collection – be it continuing on-board to Leeds for its eclectic history, shopping and nightlife or at the opposite end of the route at Carlisle with its links by train to Haltwhistle for Hadrians Wall or the Lake District with its wonderful bus routes. So too, the fabulous bus routes emanating from Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton and Keighley provided by Blazefield, including one of our favourites – Brontë Bus from Keighley to Hebden Bridge!
The Settle-Carlisle Railway isn’t just a means to get from one place to another; it’s a journey through time and beauty. This is a trip where the journey is THE attraction!
The combination of Victorian engineering, environmental preservation, intricate station architecture and stunning vistas makes this railway route one of the most scenic in the world.
For many, this is the pinnacle of experiences by rail in the UK, so be sure to hopping on a train and embarking on a memorable, magical sojourn through the history and natural wonders that grace the Settle-Carlisle Railway. To discover more about this iconic route and plan an incredible trip, as well as maybe book a journey as a group, click onto Settle – Carlisle Railway – Great Scenic Journeys