Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A nice long sit-down. 28/08/2010.

It was the weekend of the UTMB, Grand Raid Pyrenees, Ridgeway 85, Smuggler's Trod and more, but just for once I was sitting on my fat thin a*se eating pork pies washed down by cheap champagne (I know how to live it up) while most other readers of this blog were probably exerting themselves. I was doing something I've wanted to do for years - take a steam train ride on the Settle to Carlisle railway over the Ribblehead Viaduct. Finally the opportunity had arisen, so I accompanied my Dad for the long round trip from Stockport to Carlisle and back. We watched the countryside pass by from our vintage carriage (there were nine of them) of the Cumbrian Mountain Express as we were hauled most competently by the beautifully-maintained Duchess of Sutherland steam locomotive.

We had three hours or so to kill in Carlisle, which impressed me with its historic centre and vibrant market, the likes of which I only get to see at Christmas anywhere else. However I could hardly wait for the most important part for me - the Carlisle to Settle journey through Fellsman and Three Peaks Fell Race country.

The Fellsman: we crossed the Artengill viaduct over the track up from Stone House towards Great Gnoutberry.

The Fellsman: we travelled beneath the descent from Blea Moor before disappearing into Bleamoor tunnel and underneath that ventilation shaft that we head towards as we run along the roof of the tunnel.

Three Peaks Fell Race: we crossed the great Ribblehead viaduct itself with the first Three Peaks cut-off point way below. Plenty of walkers stood, gawped and felt compelled to wave. It's strange how steam trains have that effect on people.

Three Peaks Fell Race: We passed by Horton-in-Ribblesdale, start point of the Three Peaks Fell Race with Pen-y-Ghent looming in the backround, this time with a rainbow hat on.

Thank goodness Michael Portillo convinced Margaret Thatcher to save this line from closure way back in the eighties. It is now a thriving route with regular passenger services, which bring life and tourism to the towns that are served by it. Its use today far exceeds the projection that was used as justification for its reprieve nearly 30 years ago.

The full set of pictures is here.


  1. its a wonder you did offer to race said train mr ham!!

  2. I need my relaxation sometimes, uc. I was building up my strength.

  3. I love trains and whenever I am in Europe I try to take a train ride and vintage trains are really special. There is something special about trains that make people wave at them. They don't wave at cars and certainly not airplanes, do they?
    Cool ride.

  4. I'll have to try that train myself someday! But you did miss a very nice route on the Smuggler's Trod, it didn't rain until 5 minutes after I finished so I was very happy with my 5 hour finish!

  5. Ewa, you're right. Train rides through hilly or mountainous countryside are just spectacular.

    Dawn, well done with your Smuggler's Trod time. You're speeding up! It sounds just perfect with you missing the rain as well.