Anyone who has walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks route, or who has walked extensively in the Yorkshire Dales will be aware of the Settle-Carlisle railway. Three Peakers will have walked beside the 24 arches of the splendid Ribblehead Viaduct on their ascent of Whernside and if they were lucky they will have seen the iconic image of the steam locomotive puffing across the huge span. Other walkers will have encountered the stations and viaducts elsewhere along the route, perhaps not realising the significance of what they see.
The Settle-Carlisle line runs through the heart of the Dales and stops conveniently at many rural stations along the way. This gives fantastic access to the surrounding fells and allows for the creation of many linear walks between stations. Taking advantage of this I have often left my car at one station, caught a train to the a station further along the line and then walked back to my car. This ‘project’ is a collection of all those walks.
As well as providing access to a number of fantastic linear walks, the railway adds a sense of adventure to the walk – there’s nothing quite like starting a walk with a train journey. Of course most of the services that run along the line are pulled by the more mundane diesel engines, rather than the romantic steam locos, but that doesn’t diminish the child-like excitement I feel when I’m waiting on a station, early in the morning for a train to arrive.
As well as the small number of walks I’ve included here (in the menu on the left), there are plenty of other resources, including books and websites that provide a more extensive list. The following are just a couple of them:
Dales Rail Trails – from the creators of the Dales High Way – a varied selection of walks, some linear, some circular, that use the Settle-Carlisle line as a focus. The website has a small selection of walks and there’s also a book with many more in it.
Hill Walks from the Settle to Carlisle Railway Stations – This book details 24 walks from the stations on the line, between Appleby in the north and Settle in the south – there’s also a companion volume that describes a multi-day walk through the Dales and Lakes, using the stations at Settle and Carlisle.