Steaming through the Yorkshire Dales
By Ray Fincham
Desiring a direct route from London to the north, independent of its rivals, the Midland Railway Company built a line through the high fells and dales of Yorkshire and Cumberland.
This 73-mile link between Settle and Carlisle had been completed to exacting mainline standards by 1876 and was opened to passenger traffic, establishing a through-route between London and Scotland.
The Settle & Carlisle line is famous for its many tunnels, bridges, cuttings and embankments, as well as its stations and their ornate buildings, but the viaducts are its best-known features. First among these is Ribblehead, its 24 arches rising magnificently 104ft above Batty Moss. Then there are Dent Head, Artengill and Dandry Mire, all major edifices built with considerable difficulty in hostile locations. All along the route, bold man-made structures contrast with and enhance the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.
Surviving the threat of closure during the 1980s, the line has seen the popularity of steam-hauled railtours grow in recent years. Today, two or three workings may be observed each month, and during high summer it’s no longer unusual to see a couple or more steam tours each week. It’s these trains and their locomotives which are the subject of this book as we take a pictorial journey along the spectacular 33 miles of route which lie within the Yorkshire Dales National Park between Langcliffe in the south and Crosby Garrett in the north.