This has to be one of the best if not the best train ride in Britain it uses the spectacular Settle to Carlisle railway and is steeped in history.
For the full length of it's journey it follows the former Midland Mainline built by the Midland railway company to connect their London terminus St Pancras with Scotland and Ireland. I do tell a bit of a lie the first very short section out of Leeds city station was not Midland rails but if this short section lasts more than a Minute I would be supprised.
To see a bit more about the Midland Mainline further south see my Train ride from Sheffield to Leeds
The trains are operated by Northern Rail and the journey time is Approximately 2 hours 45 mins.
Click here to download the current Northern Rail Leeds Shipley Keighley Skipton Hellifield Settle Ribblehead Dent Garsdale Kirkby Stephen Appleby Carlise and Clapham Carnforth Lancaster Morecambe Heysham train timetable in pdf format
Click here to download the current West Yorkshire Metro Airedale Leeds Bradford to Shipley Bingley Keighley Skipton timetable in pdf format. This timetable includes trains from Leeds to Carlisle and Morecambe and also the Keighley and Worth Valley timetable
Please note download was correct on the date shown on timetable if in doubt visit
Planning on using buses and boats in Cumbria download the pdf version of the Go Cumbria bus timetable guide showing times of many bus services in Cumbria and all ferry services on Lake Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater and Derwent Water, along with prices of various day tickets and loads of other useful information
Click here to go to the download page
Also see my
bus ride from Leeds to Skipton via Otley and Ilkley Service X84
to see a bus alternative as far as Skipton
A Northern Rail train awaiting departure for Carlisle at Leeds City Station
The view as we leave Leeds City station at this point this train feels like any other you could easily be on a Sheffield or Nottingham express but this will quickly change.
Heading away from Leeds this line was obviously once something much bigger. It has to be said though the line as far as Skipton is now electrified and has new trains running on it and Skipton boasts one through train a day to London albeit Kings Cross not St Pancras.
Passing the back of Kirkstall Abbey.
There is lots of evidence this line was once much bigger there are lots of disputed bridges like this one as slot of this section of line was Once 4 tracks.
In this shot the entrance to the dissused bore of Shipley tunnel can be just made out. There was once two tunnels running Parallel to accommodate the 4 tracks only the one we are about to go through is used today tunnels of this nature are a common feature of the Midland mainline between Bedford and St Pancras.
Running alongside the Leeds Liverpool canal. You will keep catching glimpses of this as far as Bank Newton locks just after Gargrave.
To see a bit more of the Leeds Liverpool canal see my
Bus ride from Manchester to Burnley
Bus ride from Bolton to Preston
First stop Shipley. Shipley is the Junction where the line to Bradford Foster Square leaves the main line.
Passing Salts Mill at Saltaire.
The three rise locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal can be seen in this shot. The famous Bingley five rise locks can be found a short distance along the canal from here
Another view of Bingley three rise locks.
Heading up the Airedale between Bingley and Keighley
Keighley. In this shot the part of Keighley station used by the preserved Keighley and Worth Valley railway can be seen. To find out more about this railway visit the Keighley and Worth Valley website
Also see my
Walk from Keighley to Ilkley over Ilkley Moor
Racing up Airedale towards Skipton. The landscape starts to change and the Yorkshire Dales start to appear.
As you can see from the snow and lack of snow in different pictures I made this journey more than once to get these pictures it fortunately allowed me to capture some of the lines different moods.
Skipton the end of the line for the electric trains but not for us. Note the typical Midland style platform canopies.
Skipton and London St Pancras get a mention on my
The journey back from Lands End to Abbeydale Rd via Penzance, St Ives, Camborne, Penzance, London, Sheffield, Leeds, Skipton, Preston, Burnley, Halifax, Huddersfield
Stabling facilities for the electric trains at Skipton. Our train and the railway itself from here on in now starts to take on a very different feeling.
Our last sight of the Leeds Liverpool canal at Bank Newton Locks the canal now heads off towards Burnley.
The landscape is becoming more upland.
Approaching Hellifield note the signal box and semaphore signals in this area they are still manned and and been used today. At least here a real person is controlling your train not a computer is that good or bad?
Hellifield station. In times gone by Hellifield was a major junction amd this explains why the station is so large.
After passing through Long Preston the Ribble Valley opens up.
We then reach Settle Junction where the line splits the line to Morecambe and Heysham seaport that was the Midlands route to Ireland bears to the left.
To see a little bit more about this see my
train journey from Lancaster to Carlisle via Barrow in Furness and the Cumbrian.Coast.
The route to Scotland via the Settle and Carlisle which we are taking to the right.
The Morecambe line Heading off towards Giggleswick. In days gone by the boat trains would have been seen using that line.
Shortly after the Junction we arrive at Settle. This shot shows the unique signage for the distances to Carlisle and London
The Station building at Settle. To see A train ride from Long Preston to Settle through Settle junction on a snowy day
Until 1989 the next section of line faced the threat off closure slot off people worked very hard to keep the line open and fortunately the government of the day decided they were right. The group is known as the Friends of the Settle Carlisle and they still work today promoting the line providing refreshments and guides on some of the trains using the line and they play a huge part in the upkeep of the stations along the route amongst other things. I know of no other railway in Britain where this is done. It is obviously done with the full backing of Northern Rai and Network Rail. This has got to keep any potential renewed threat of closure much further away.
For more info visit Friends of the Settle Carlisle
To get an idea of what this line may have looked like today if the decision in 1989 had gone the other way see my Walk from Miller's Dale to Bakewell along the Monsal trail. This is the walk uses the tracked of the Midlands route from London St Pancras to Manchester and runs through the Derbyshire Peak district. Some of the structures and works along the walk bear a striking resemblence to those found on the Settle to Carlisle line. Interestingly the Manchester line leaves the mainline to Scotland at Ambergate Junction in Derbyshire between Derby and Chesterfield it is now just a branch line to Matlock but Peak rail have extended it to Rowsley as a preseved line.
It has to be remembered that the Settle Carlisle line opened in 1876 is built to mainline specifications and runs through some of the wildest terrain in the Uk which makes it an incredible feat of engineering.
This is where the atmosphere on board really changes. It really does take on a feeling of something speacial. It has all the feel of a preserved line although the train is also thankfuly been used by people just wanting to get from A to B.
A map of the route ahead.
Passing Settle Church a lot of navies who died during construction of the line are buried in the church yard.
Climbing up Ribblesdale alongside the river Ribble. We are now climbing up towards Ribblehead. This climb is known as the Long Drag.
A view of Penyghent this is one of the 3 peaks on the three peaks walk.
Horton in Ribblesdale. At this point the scenery becomes breathtaking.
A view of Ingleborough mountain. Another of the Peaks on the Three peaks walk.
Climbing the Long Drag nearing Ribblehead.
Ribblehead Station. We are now about to cross the Ribblehead viaduct which is the highlight of this journey. Barely a Head does not turn on the train as we cross the viaduct. I wonder if it was like this in the lines heyday when the Thames Clyde express crossed the viaduct.
Crossing the Ingleton to Hawes road just before we go onto the viaduct. The Station Inn is a great place to have a drink if you alight from the train here it has superb views of the Ribblehead viaduct.
The River Ribble also starts here to see a picture of the Ribble near its estuary near Preston see my
Bus ride from Bolton to Preston
bus ride from Preston to Burnley
Crossing the Ribblehead viaduct.