Saturday, 8 April 2017

Following The Settle-Carlise Line from Ribblehead to Garsdale.

Another one of those days when all the weather Gods looked down favourably on me. I think cold and crisp describes it perfectly. There was still frost on the ground at Ribblehead which was my first photo stop. Even at such an early hour there were cars aplenty by the viaduct so I headed off up the Hawes road to a limestone scar I found years ago. It's position adds great interest and composition to distant shots of the railway viaduct and Three Peaks plus it isn't too far off the road.

Next stop was the Dent Head Viaduct, a fine structure which carries the Settle-Carlisle railway over the road leading down in to Dentdale. Its a much photographed view with far reaching views of the Dentdale fells. I then turned off the main road leading to Dent village and headed up the side road going over to Garsdale. This passes both Dent and Garsdale Head stations and is known as the Coal Road. There were twenty-five coal pits which formed part of the extensive coal workings and lay on the moorland either side of it. These coal pits were worked by local people, initially to produce domestic fuel, but by the 18th century, the poor quality coal was also being used in lime kilns. Commercial coal mining went on in Garsdale until the 1870s when the Settle-Carlisle railway started bringing in cheaper, higher quality coal from the Lancashire and West Yorkshire coalfields.

My last port of call was Garsdale Head station which used to be called Hawes Junction and I reckon it must be the highest and also wildest station in the UK. The station waiting room was once used for Anglican church services, and the railway turntable had a wall of sleepers built around it to prevent locomotives being spun by strong winds: this happened in 1900. 

The southbound platform features a life-size bronze statue of a Border Collie dog named Ruswarp. Ruswarp belonged to Graham Nuttall, one of the founding members of the group that saved the Settle-Carlisle Railway from closure. The dog had also been featured in the campaign, signing the petition to save the line with a paw-print. Nuttall disappeared while walking in the Welsh Mountains on 20 January 1990. His body was found on 7 April; Ruswarp was still alive after standing guard over his owner's body for 11 weeks. The sculpture by Joel Walker is a memorial to both Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp and was unveiled on 11 April 2009, 20 years after the line was saved from closure.

Thank God the Settle-Carlise line wasn't closed by Michael Portillo when he was transport secretary. British rail had said that the Ribblehead Viaduct needed 12 million pounds spent on it to make it safe but independent engineers later said it could be done for just three million and the work was done and the line and its future was saved.


Little Scar and Ribblehead viaduct

Little Scar and Ribblehead viaduct

Little Scar and Ingleborough

Little Scar

Dent Head Viaduct

Dent Head Viaduct

Looking towards Mallerstang

Looking towards Mallerstang

Iron gate on The Coal Road.

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Ruswarp

To Lochinver via Coigach

Again, I don't really think many words are needed for this blog. The photos tell the whole story of one of the best drives in the UK. ...