28th July 2010



Higgy, with his other Railway Bear pals, Chuffer, Dale, Dunstan and Scooter, were reading through the final draft of the story of their day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

"Looks OK", he said.

"Yes", agreed Dale. "Now all that remains is for Uncle Brian to proof read it, before Dad uploads it to STAG's site."

"It was a wonderful day, especially as we did the journey to Whitby as well", said Scooter.

"Even more so for Chuffer, Dale and I, as we had never been on any of the line before", added Dunstan.

"We have all got a memento too", said Chuffer. "It was good of Dad to buy us that badge that we all wear proudly."

"We are really the lucky ones at the moment, as the day after tomorrow is Dad and Uncle Brian's trip on "The Fellsman", over the famous Settle-Carlisle route", called out Scooter excitedly. Adding, "We will all be going along too, of course."

"I just can't wait", replied Dale. "We have seen so many of the pictures Dad has taken on his walks with STAG, near the line. It passes through some really spectacular scenery."

"That's right, and they will come in very useful, to illustrate some of the viaducts, tunnels and stations along the line, that we will cross or pass through, together with pictures Uncle Gerry takes on the day. I have already asked STAG and they are quite happy for us to use them", said Higgy.

We had better have a early night tomorrow as it will be a long day and we want to be fully alert", said Dunstan.

"The Fellsman"

The train departed at 08:08, so we were up very early, to get to the station in good time by 07:30.

"The platform is very busy", remarked Dale.

"Well I reckon quite a few are waiting for the London train that is due shortly", replied Scooter.

Sure enough, when the train arrived over half of the people waiting, boarded it.

Just a few minutes later our train arrived and we eagerly looked to see which locomotive would be hauling us.

"It's Jubilee class 5690 'Leander'", called out Chuffer, who is eagle eyed.

The 'Jubilee' class were designed as express engines for all but the heaviest of mainline duties. In all 191 were built, with splendid names associated with the British Empire, also including many noted admirals and commemorating former warships; others revived names of engines of an earlier age. Just three members of the class remain in operable condition.

No. 5690 was built at Crewe in March 1936 and named Leander after HMS Leander, which in turn was named after the Greek hero Leander. After being withdrawn in 1964 Leander was sold to Woodham Brothers scrap yard in Barry, South Wales. She was rescued by Brian Oliver in 1972. Once restored she lived a while at Dinting near Glossop, before being bought and operated on the Severn Valley Railway. Following service on the East Lancashire Railway she moved to her current base at Carnforth.

This was the first running of The Fellsman this year. It runs every Wednesday until the end of September, every train being already fully booked. For extra comfort and enjoyment we were travelling first class, a further extra amount paid, for our Dads to have just a single seat facing and back. We were in coach E and we ambled along to climb aboard.

Higgy said, "Uncle Gerry is very accommodating, as Dad likes to ride facing the direction of travel."

"I know. He does not mind, as he still can see all the views", replied Scooter.

They settled in their seats and we sat on the table in between, not moving for the whole journey as we looked out of the window, enthralled by the scenery.

So, exactly on time, off we went, gliding out of Lancaster Station. A gentleman came to check the tickets, issuing complimentary vouchers for tea/coffee for morning and afternoon. A nice perk for first class passengers and not one that had been expected. A souvenir brochure was bought too. This provided details of the route etc and was excellent value at just £1. It was invaluable, enabling us to fully appreciate and enjoy the scenery and the many other landmarks viewable from the train.

We were travelling south on the West Coast Main Line. After just 25 minutes the train arrived at Preston where nearly all the empty seats filled up. The whistle blew and minutes later we were off again passing through a number of junctions to Bamber Bridge and Blackburn. At both stations further passengers boarded. Departing Blackburn at 09.15, four minutes later we reached Daisyfield Junction, where the train turned north along the picturesque Ribble Valley Line. As the name says this took us along the beautiful Ribble Valley consisting of over two hundred and thirty square miles of rural landscapes, moorland hill and river valleys. After passing through stations called Ramsgreave & Wilpshire and Langho, we crossed the River Calder by the beautiful Whalley Viaduct some 679 yards in length. After another three miles we reached Clitheroe. We had all hoped for a dry day at least, but by the time we reached here it was raining hard and the windows were getting steamed up so spoiling the views. However, as we ran further north the rain stopped and we enjoyed good views for the rest of the day. Departing Clitheroe, it was now a half hour run to Hellifield. This is the second station on this site, built in 1880, and has what are probably the finest example of awnings supported by elaborate and ornate brackets, that 'fall away' from the building.

Scrutinising the timetable, Dale said, "we have a stop here for half an hour."

"That's so we can take on water", replied Scooter.

"According to this notice that was given out, the locomotive uses over 2000 gallons of water every 60 miles", added Dunstan.

It was then just a mile along to Long Preston, where the final passengers joined the train. Continuing north we passed Settle Junction, where the line branches off to Carnforth via Giggleswick, Bentham etc. Having so far travelled some 60 miles, it was somewhat amusing to think that along the branch, we were only about 30 or so miles from Lancaster! Now on the Settle-Carlisle line, approaching Settle station, we started the thirteen-mile climb of 1 in 100. This is the infamous 'Long Drag'. A severe test of an engine man's skills in the days of steam. Now hardly noticed by the modern diesels.

Beyond the town of Settle, the line runs above the River Ribble.

Dad remarked to Uncle Brian, "I've walked along there with Bob. That was the day I discovered Elaine's at Feizor."

"I wondered when he would start", said Dale laughingly.

The river is crossed via Sherrif Brow Viaduct (58yds) and Little Viaduct (25yds).

Further on Scooter remarked, "there are some large quarries over there."

They are quite enormous, like the one I walked round with Uncle Bob", replied Dad. Adding, "that was after I had walked along below that wall over there, crossing all the walls at right angles by stone gap stiles."

"Oh heck, I hope he not going to be like this all the way to Carlisle", pleaded Chuffer.

As we approached Horton in Ribblesdale, we could see clearly the mountain Pen-y-ghent that dominates the village to the east. Horton is famous as the starting point of the "Three Peaks" walk. Some 24 miles in length it involves climbing first Pen-y-ghent (2278ft) then via Ribblehead to the summit of Whernside (2416ft), before finally summiting Ingleborough (2373ft) on the return to Horton. Here is Pen-y-ghent, taken on 8th March 2010 from the Settle to Ribblehead road. The railway line is probably no more than half a mile away to the west.

Just minutes later we were passing through the station of Horton in Ribblesdale, at an altitude of 850ft. This like all the stations on the line has been lovingly renovated and restored, with the help of "The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line". The organisation was formed initially, to save the line from the proposed closure by British Rail. The fact that we were travelling today is a testament of their success. This picture was taken on 31st August 2008.

"Well if that was Horton, then it is only a few miles to Ribblehead Station and just beyond the mighty viaduct that spans Batty Moss", called out Chuffer, who like the rest of us was excited to cross it.

It was the cost of the repair and upkeep of this structure that British Rail cited mainly in their attempt to close the line. This picture taken on 29th April 2009, is from the path to Blea Moor, looking south towards the road at Ribblehead. The hill rising behind is Park Fell.

Constructed between 1870 and 1875, there are 24 spans and it is 440 yards long and 165 feet high. During its construction the moor below contained the shanty towns that housed the builders. A temporary brickworks was also erected to make some 20,000 bricks a day. Following the line being saved in 1989, restoration work was carried out this being completed in 1991, the fact being commemorated by this monument that stands below the viaduct. A plate at the back lists the names of the shanty towns. They were - Batty Green, Belgravia, Blea Moor, Inkerman, Jericho, Jerusalem, Sabastapol, Salt Lake and Tunnel Huts. Some were probably associated with other projects on the line such as Blea Moor Tunnel.

We stared down to the moor below, while crossing the viaduct, wondering how the people coped with the wild and appalling weather that they faced while completing this monumental structure. Very soon we passed a signal box.

"That's Blea Moor, the most remote signal box in Britain", said Higgy.

"I've walked past that a few times, coming and going to Whernside or up over Blea Moor", remarked his Uncle Gerry.

"Here he goes again", said Chuffer.

"That means we are approaching Blea Moor tunnel, which is the longest on the whole line", said Scooter.

This is driven through the mass of Blea Moor, where the workmen encountered gritstone, shale and limestone. Taking five years to build it is 2629 yards long, and at the maximum is 500ft below the moor top, describing an arc through the hill. The construction involved 300 people working by the light of candles. There are three ventilation shafts, which Dad visited with Uncle Bob when they climbed the hill, and on that day they noticed smoke emitting from one, caused by a steam train just like ours today.

So storming out of the tunnel, the train races along under the slopes of Wold Fell, crossing Dent Head Viaduct. Built of local blue limestone, it has ten spans and is 197yards long and 100 feet high,

to then shortly cross Arten Gill Viaduct, over the tumbling stream from which it gets its name. It is built of Dent marble and is generally accepted as the most graceful viaduct on the line. It has eleven spans and is 220 yards long and 117 feet high. This picture was taken in December 2007. The hill behind is Whernside.

"Dent Station is next", called out Higgy excitedly.

"That's right", replied Dale. "It is the highest 'main line' station in Britain.

"1150 feet above sea level, according to the sign", said eagle eyed Chuffer as we passed through.

It is 5 miles from, and 600 feet above the village it was built to serve. During the winter of 1947 snow drifts as high as the station roof blocked the line here for two months. The snow fence, the remains of which can be seen behind the station building on the left, was of little effect that year.

Very soon we travelled through Rise Hill Tunnel, the second longest on the line at 1213 yards. Coming out at its northern end, we had passed into the valley of Garsdale and its namesake station.

"I remember, when we travelled this line in 1987, that this like many of the stations was derelict and forlorn. It is wonderful to see them now so beautifully restored", remarked Dad.

"This station was formerly known as Hawes Junction. Until 1959 a line curved off right to Hawes, and on to Northallerton", said Dale. "The Wensleydale Railway, of which I am a member, has so far reopened the line between Redmire and Leeming Bar, but they have a long term ambition to extend east into Northallerton, and west to connect once again with the Settle-Carlisle line here", he went on.

"It will cost an awful lot of money, but lets hope that eventually they are successful", replied Scooter.

Dale's Dad took this picture about a month after our trip, and if you look closely you can just make out Higgy's Dad sitting on a seat beyond the signal box. This seat is dedicated to Graham Nuttall, co-founder and first secretary of the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, who with tens of thousands of people and one dog objected to the closure of the line. The dog was Graham's faithful companion Ruswarp. His paw print was accepted as a valid signature of objection, he being a fare paying passenger.

Tragically Graham and Ruswarp hardly had time to enjoy the railway they had helped to save, as on 20th January 1990 they went walking in the Welsh mountains but did not return. Graham had died and his body was not discovered until 7th April 1990. Nearby was Ruswarp who had stayed with his dead master for eleven winter weeks. Ruswarp was so weak, he had to be carried off the mountain, but recovered and lived long enough to be at his master's funeral. During this Ruswarp sat patiently and silently, but as the curtains closed on the coffin there was a long low muffled howl. Ruswarp's farewell. A statue of Ruswarp was unveiled on the 11th April 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the government announcement that the Settle-Carlisle line would not be closed.

Symbolising the saving of the line and the loyalty of man's best friend, Ruswarp's eyes look towards the hills and to the bench on the far platform dedicated to Graham Nuttall. Garsdale was their favourite place.

An added bonus of the visit to the station, was that our Dads saw a steam train, "The Waverley" hauled by Royal Scot class 46115 "Scots Guardsman". First as it approaches,

Then close-up as it powers through the station, just like Leander today.

Almost immediately past Garsdale, Scooter called out, "we are crossing Moorcock Viaduct. It was originally called Dandry Mire Viaduct, after the bog it crosses", he went on.

"That's right", agreed Higgy. "It was not envisaged in the original plans, but became necessary when the intended embankment refused to 'hold'."

Dale added, "there are twelve spans and it is 227 yards long and 50 feet high."

Dunstan, who was studying the brochure, called out, "we will soon be at Ais Gill, the summit of the line at 1169ft above sea level."

We all kept our eyes peeled, but it was our eagle eyed Chuffer, who suddenly cried, "there's the sign indicating the summit."

Descending now, we passed through the valley known as Mallerstang, and high up above us towered a hill.

"What's that Uncle Gerry", asked Higgy.

"Wild Boar Fell, which is 2322ft high", he replied. "I climbed it in 2007 with Uncle Bob, as well as the ridge on the east side of the valley. Up on the slopes between High Seat and Hugh Seat is the source of the River Eden, the valley of which we will follow to Carlisle.

Soon we passed through the station at Kirkby Stephen and on towards Appleby where the train was to make a second stop to take on water. The line once had a number of other wayside stations, but these were axed as part of the cuts to the network made by Dr. Beeching. Looking at the brochure, these were clearly marked and gloried in names such as Crosby Garrett, Culgaith, Little Salkeld, Ormside etc. We made a point of keeping a look out and were able to spot some of them as we continued to Carlisle. Ormside was one of the easier ones, and we recalled that Dad had visited this on a walk in January this year. Serving the village of Great Ormside, here are the old station buildings, now used as a school. It is largely unaltered externally apart from the ugly extension on the left. More about Great Ormside and indeed Appleby can be found by clicking the link here to STAG's walk in this area - Appleby & Great Ormside

Then, almost immediately we were crossing the impressive Ormside viaduct, where the line crosses the River Eden for the first time. There are 10 arches, the structure being 200 yards long and 90 feet high.

It was then just a short run to Appleby. Formerly the county town of the old county of Westmorland, it lost its status, when this and Cumberland were combined to form Cumbria, in 1972. Subsequently "in Westmorland" was added to its name in recognition of its former status. We stopped here to take on water again. Dad went off, vying with many other passengers to take photos, while we sat with Uncle Brian. Here we are.

We will now let him take up the story for the time at Appleby. Such was the interest to see the locomotive, that the platform was thronged with people.

I walked to the head of the train, to get this shot of the front of Leander with 'The Fellsman' headboard.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to photograph Leander, I realised that the best vantage point would be from the up platform, so I headed to the footbridge to cross the tracks. Pausing on the bridge this is the view looking north up the line,

and of the road tanker that had brought the water to refill the tender of Leander.

Finally I got a good vantage point on the up platform to take a number of shots of Leander, such as this one below.

As the whistle sounded, I, like the other passengers, were warned that the train was ready to depart, so I hurried to rejoin Brian and the Railway Bears.

"Well", said Scooter. "While you were getting the pictures, we have been pointed out by a number of passengers and at least a dozen took our picture."

"That's right", added Uncle Brian. "I did my best to look aloof and hide behind the curtain."

The whistle sounded again, and we were off on the final stage of our outward journey. This took us through the station of Langwathby, where in the building is the Brief Encounter Coffee Shop & Restaurant.

"Have you been there"?, asked Higson.

"Yes", replied his Dad. "It was very good and was well worth the visit"

To find out more click the following link - Brief Encounter

Continuing north we passed through the stations of Lazonby and Kirkoswald, and Armathwaite, the latter being just 10 miles from Carlisle.

"There are some more closed stations before we get to Carlisle", said Dunstan, who was studying the brochure again.

"What were they called", asked Dale

"Cotehill, Cumwhinton & Scotby", replied Dunstan.

So we kept our eyes peeled and we managed to spot two of them as we speeded along.

Soon we joined a line coming in from the right.

"That's the Tyne Valley Line from Newcastle", said Dunstan.

Then just minutes later we saw the overhead electric gantries, as we joined the main West Coast Main Line again, and glided into Carlisle Station. Here we disembarked, and the train left the station to return in just under two hours for the return journey.

Higgy said, "we have got our sandwiches, so we intend to sit and eat them on the station, while we watch the trains coming and going."

"OK, but you take care and behave yourselves", replied Uncle Gerry.

"We will", we all cried out in unison.

So crossing the bridge they headed out of the station. Higgy's Dad said "I do not want to walk too far and we have been all round Carlisle in the past."

"That's fine with me", Uncle Gerry replied, who takes up the story for the lunch.

It was fortuitous that just outside the station is the Hallmark Hotel, and the staff were handing out vouchers to "Fellsman" passengers, offering meals at discounted prices. So the decision was made to lunch here.

It is very nicely appointed, classy and an attractive place to stay. We enjoyed a lovely toasted club sandwich-triple-decker with bacon, chicken, salad and mayonnaise, with tea to drink. It was excellent and filled a gap, also passing a very pleasant hour. Then we ambled the few yards to the station, searching out the Railway Bears, and sitting with them until the train returned into the platform.

As we boarded Scooter said, "the whole train had been turned round, so we get the view from the opposite side on the return journey".

"That's fantastic", said Chuffer.

So, the whistle sounded and on time at 15.19, Leander pulled us out of the station on the reverse of the route again enjoying the lovely spectacular scenery. As we rode through Mallerstang, we were able to fully appreciate the ridge that STAG had walked along with Dad and Uncle Bob. We could see where they had made the ascent, and realised that it was every bit as steep a climb as they had said.

Chuffer, ever eagle eyed, called out, "there are the ruins of Pendragon Castle. Legend says it was the home of Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur. It was burnt down by the raiding Scots in 1541 and rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford in 1660." Dad took these shots in the early morning of 8th April 2007, the day he and STAG walked the Mallerstang Ridge.

As we exited Blea Moor Tunnel, Scooter called out excitedly "we will soon be crossing Ribblehead Viaduct again".

His Dad replied, "I am going to try and get a picture from the train as we do that".

Other passengers had the same idea, so Dad had to wait his turn. Although he says it is not a particularly good shot, this was the result. The hill slopes behind are Whernside.

As with the outward journey stops were made again at Appleby and Hellifield to take on water. Then leaving the Settle-Carlisle line, we returned along the Ribble Valley Line, dropping passengers off, to Blackburn and then to Preston. We were early here, so had to wait while three scheduled main line trains passed north, before we could proceed to Lancaster arriving about 20.30. Just a super super day and we had enjoyed every minute!! What was so amazing too, were the number of people of all ages whether standing in windows, gardens, fields, etc who had turned out to see the train, either to take pictures or wave. We all waved back too!

"I could do it again tomorrow", said Higgy's Dad.

Doing it again this year is not possible as all the trains are booked, but we were very encouraged by the fact that our Dads are determined to do it again next year, so we can look forward to another exciting day.

A big thank you too to the staff of Statesman Rail, who were most pleasant and helpful and West Coast Trains for the provision of Leander and carriages, and the driver and firemen, who all made this journey possible.

And finally, during the journey, staff came through selling souvenirs. One was a little Teddy Bear wearing a high visibility jacket.

"I have just got to have him as a memento of the day", said Scooter's Dad.

They call him "Freddie Fellsman", but we decided to give him the name Leander after the locomotive that hauled us today.


The End


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