Settle–Carlisle Railway

Station Road Settle North Yorkshire BD24 9AA

England's most scenic railway is the claim – and who would say they're wrong? The 72-mile route, completed in 1875, runs through the very heart of the Yorkshire Dales, from the handsome vintage station in the small town of Settle to the neighbouring Cumbrian capital of Carlisle. Right from the off the views are spectacular, and at places like the magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct the tour-de-force Victorian engineering induces gasps even today. The line was built by thousands of navvies ("navigators") who lived by the side of the tracks in fetid shanty towns, of which scarcely any reminder remains today – save the glorious line itself, one of England's truly great journeys. There are daily services (with regular connections to Settle from Leeds via Skipton) and while it takes an hour and 45 minutes from Settle to Carlisle (or three hours from Leeds to Carlisle), you could just make the 30-minute trip from Settle to Garsdale, which shows you the best of the line, including the crossing of the Ribblehead viaduct. Facilities are limited at most intermediate stations, though there are local walking routes from many of them (plus an annual guided walk programme; details on the website) and pubs and cafés in the nearby villages and towns – of which Kirkby Stephen and Appleby are the biggest. Note that some of the stations (Dent, for example) are a fair way from the villages or towns that they serve.

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