One of the most scenic and impressive railways in the UK
a 73-mile-long (117 km) main railway line which crosses the wild Yorkshire Dales, the North Pennines and Eden Valley and is one of the most impressive scenic railways in the country. It runs between the market town of Settle in North Yorkshire and the city of Carlisle in Cumbria serving towns such as Appleby-in-Westmorland as well as small rural communities along its route. The historic line was constructed in the 1870s and has several notable tunnels and viaducts such as the imposing Ribblehead.
Defying plans for closure
In the 1980s, the Settle-Carlisle was scheduled for closure by British Rail. This prompted rail groups, enthusiasts, local authorities and residents along the route to fight a successful campaign to save the railway. In 1989 the UK government announced it had declined to close the line. Since then passenger numbers have grown steadily to over 1.2 million a year. Eight formerly closed stations have also been reopened. It remains one of the most popular railway routes in the UK for charter trains and specials.
The line was the last great mainline railways to be built in Britain. It was completed for passenger travel in 1876 by the Midland Railway Company and had taken 6 years to build.
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Due to the remote and harsh landscape, the route required 14 tunnels and 22 viaducts, the most notable is the 24 arch Ribblehead Viaduct which is 32 m high and 402 m long. Shortly after crossing the viaduct, the line enters Blea Moor tunnel, which is 2,404 m long and 152 m below the moor. The summit at Aisgill, at 356m above sea level, is the highest point reached by a main line train in England. The tunnel at Lazonby was constructed at the request of a local vicar as he did not want the railway to run past the vicarage.
In total the line consisted of
- 380 numbered bridges, tunnels & viaducts
- 20 Stations (11 still open)
- 12 Signal boxes (10 still operational)
- 150 Railways workers houses (now privately owned)
- 1 Aqueduct
- 1 Water Tower (now a private home)
Statue of Ruswarp
In 2009, a statue of a border collie named Ruswarp was unveiled on the platform of Garsdale railway station. The sculpture commemorates the saving of the railway line which was coordinated by the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Line.
Ruswarp was the companion of the first secretary of the Friends group, Graham Nuttall, was a keen hillwalker. Ruswarp signed the petition to save the line with his paw print. On 20 January 1990 Graham Nuttall went missing in the Welsh Mountains.
Numerous searches were conducted but no sign of him was found until 7 April 1990, when a lone walker found Nuttall's body beside a stream. The 14-year-old Ruswarp was nearby, having stayed by his master's body for 11 weeks in winter weather. He was so weak he had to be carried down the mountain. His veterinary fees were paid by the RSPCA, who awarded him their Animal Medallion and collar for 'Cutting Edge vigilance' and Animal Plaque for 'intelligence and courage'. He died shortly after Nuttall's funeral