North Yorkshire – Settle to Appleby by Train

In the morning we had a very fine Yorkshire Breakfast.  A Yorkshire Breakfast is really just a full English but most places now try and regionalise it  with some variations. 

The one above is my attempt at a Little Chef breakfast.  Keeping it simple, bacon, sausage fried egg with mushrooms, fried potato, black pudding and baked beans in a separate dish.  I do think that it is important to have baked beans in a separate dish.  I imagine the Queen has baked beans in a separate dish but Prime Minister Boris Johnson eats them out of the tin.

A Full Scottish Breakfast has haggis and potato cakes, a Full Irish has white pudding, a Full Welsh has Penclawdd cockle and laverbread cake and the menu is in a funny made up language and in Cornwall they have hog’s pudding an especially unpleasant combination of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, oatmeal or pearl barley and formed into a large unnatural looking sausage.  

A Full Australian Breakfast looks very similar but the Full American loads it up with waffles and pancakes and they can’t cook bacon properly.

So today we were going on a train journey on the famous Settle to Carlisle line across the Pennines, the so called backbone of England.  We were going from Settle to Appleby so not quite all the way to the border town.

In terms of distance it was only a short drive to Settle but Yorkshire roads are very narrow and at times unpredictable so it took rather longer than anticipated.  And at some point we missed an important turn so now it took even longer.  After an hour or so we arrived at the Ribblehead Viaduct.

The Ribblehead Viaduct or Batty Moss Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle railway across the fabulously named Batty Moss Valley and was built a hundred and fifty years or so ago, it is thirty miles north-west of Skipton and twenty-five miles south-east of Kendal and is a Grade II listed structure.

The land underneath and around the viaduct is a scheduled ancient monument. Because it was so far from any major settlements the workers and their families lived in three navvy settlements called Sebastopol and Belgravia and best of all Batty Wife Hole – there is an appropriate monument to commemorate them below the arches.

We stopped and admired the viaduct but the clock was ticking so we pressed on to the town of Settle.  When we set off this morning we thought we might have time to look around the town but  now only made it to the train station by the skin of our teeth and purchased our tickets just in the nick of time.

Settle Railway Station is like piece of 1950s history, it belongs on a model railway, a brick ticket office with exterior wooden features painted maroon and cream in classic English railway station colours from over half a century ago.

The train arrived on time and we bagged our seats.  The route crosses the most remote and scenic regions of the Yorkshire Dales and the terrain traversed is among the bleakest and wildest in England.  It takes an hour for the train to make the journey at an average speed of a sedate forty miles an hour.

The railway’s summit at 1,169 feet requires a sixteen mile climb from Settle to Blea Moor so it is rather slow going, almost all of it at a gradient of 1 in 100 and  because in times gone by steam trains didn’t cope well with gradients it was known to train drivers as “the long drag”.

This stretch of the line has fourteen tunnels and twenty-two  viaducts and the most notable is the twenty-four arch Ribblehead.  Soon after crossing the viaduct the line enters Blea Moor tunnel, 2,629 yd long and 500 ft below the moor, before emerging onto Dent Head Viaduct. The summit at Aisgill is the highest point reached by main-line trains in England. At an altitude of 1,150 feet and situated between Blea Moor Tunnel and Rise Hill Tunnel immediately to its north, Dent is the highest operational railway station on the National Rail network in England.

Corrour Railway Station in Scotland At 1,340 ft is the highest mainline station in the UK.  At 3,000 feet the highest railway station in Australia is Summit Railway Station in Queensland,  The highest station in the World is Galera in China at 15,700 feet above sea level which to put that in perspective is about half as high as Mount Everest and half the cruising height of most modern aeroplanes.

This was a delightful and scenic journey as we crossed viaducts and disappeared into tunnels  with wonderfully descriptive names – Stainforth Tunnel, Dry Rigg Quarry, Blea Moor Tunnel, Arten Gill Viaduct, Rise Hill Tunnel,  Shotlock Hill Tunnel, Ais Gill Summit, Smardale Viaduct and Scandal Beck.  And stopping at stations – Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen and Appleby. 

Into the County of Cumbria we spent an hour in the town of Appleby which I have to say was not the best part of the day before making our way back to the train station which was probably the best thing about the place because it meant that we were leaving and took the train back to Settle.

Sorry Appleby.

29 responses to “North Yorkshire – Settle to Appleby by Train

  1. As an American, I was wondering….. What is the problem you have with bacon in traditional American breakfasts? Is it too crunchy? Not crunchy enough? Because there are debates here about the whether bacon should be crunchy or not…, also, I’ve been wondering, is a Scotch Egg breakfast food? And what exactly is a Scotch Egg have in it?

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  2. Sounds like a lovely railway trip

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  3. Somehow, I’ve never been on the Settle-Carlisle line. You’ve convinced me I Need To Do It.

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  4. Sadly I have had to give up all those beautiful breakfasts on doctor’s orders. Just when I was beginning to appreciate the delights of black pudding, the closest we English get to vampirism.

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  5. Damn it! You’ve made me hungry!

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  6. I actually like American bacon as long as it’s not too cremated. With pancakes and maple syrup naturally ☺️ and I have never come across hog’s pudding in Cornwall.

    I have been on the Carlisle to Settle railway, years ago on a very long circular day trip from Doncaster. It was amazing!

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    • They crisp it up way too much. I was hoping you would be able to do a review of hog’s pudding, I understand it is some sort of sausage.

      The Settle to Carlisle railway is certainly a spectacular journey.

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  7. Thanks for the post Andrew. A train journey we should make sometime but I am intrigued by your thoughts on Appleby!

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  8. I have, sadly, never done the Settle – Carlisle line, and I doubt it will happen now

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  9. Appleby will always be in Westmoreland as far as I’m concerned.

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  10. Haha, I had to laugh at your theory of how the Queen and Boris eats their baked beans (I’m on the Queen’s side here) 😄.
    It sounds like a scenic journey – I should find a train journey!

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  11. I’ve never done that train journey, but I’ve always wanted to, and you’re the second person I’ve read on it in the last couple of weeks. It’s calling my name now. And as others seem to be nitpicking about breakfasts, I’ll put in my tuppence worth and say we don’t have potato cakes we have tattie scones!

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  12. I have always wanted to travel the Settle-Carlisle line ever since I first heard about it as a kid. That’s probably therefore about 60 odd years ago and I’ve still not got round to doing it. I have indeed had hog’s pudding in Cornwall, Cherry Trees cafe in Padstow harbour do a good one in their Cornish breakfast. There’s nothing to be afraid of – it tastes rather similar to black pudding but a bit less rich.

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