The line was built in the 1870’s over many notable tunnels/viaducts such as Ribblehead. It was constructed by over 6,000 navvies who risked their lives on dangerous, inadequate scaffolds in rough conditions in order for the line to be built. John Crossley was the engineer for the project, he had estimated it to be 50% less expensive than what it worked out to be-it cost £360 million in today’s money! As the locations are so remote, large camps were set up to house the navvies and their families. The remains of one camp in particular (Betty Green) can be seen still near Ribblehead where over 2,000 lived. Sadly, a lack of unsafe equipment, illness, work-related casualties and drunken fighting led to over 200 deaths which gave the camp title of a ‘Wild West’ group developing. 80 deaths of which were caused by a smallpox epidemic. Close by at a church near Chapel-Le-Dale, a plaque lies to record the navvies who died to build our famous railway line.

What outrages me is that in the 1980’s British Rail wanted to stop this line. I find it appalling after all the money, efforts and deaths that were put into building this essential line they wished to get rid of it. Living in this rural end of the country is hard when you are not able to drive, this railway ‘gives me the opportunity for freedom and allows me to travel to Leeds for work which I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do’ says Tom Mawson. Thankfully, a campaign was put in place to save this line by rail groups, enthusiasts, local authorities and residents locally. To many people’s relief in 1989 the UK government announced it would be rescued from closure. In 2012, passenger numbers had grown to 1.2 million! Many people from this area find it’s the perfect escape for a day out in Leeds, ‘I love having the opportunity for a city day out without having to change trains, it’s hard round here to do that as we are so far from cities’ Mark Hodgson. Following on from this, eight stations which were previously closed in the 1950’s have been reopened and several quarries have also been able to reconnect to the line. It is one of the most popular railway routes in the UK for specials and charter trains.

The railway line in Northern England that stretches from Leeds to Settle and Carlisle is a well renowned journey for avid walkers and sight-seers. It’s route travels over scenic, country side scenes through the Yorkshire dales and North Pennines. It has 18 stops if your journey starts right from Carlisle, stopping at Armathwaite, Lazonby, Langwathby, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Garsdale, Dent, Ribblehead, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Settle, Long Preston, Hellfield, Gargrave, Skipton, Keighley, Bingley, Shipley and finally Leeds.

From February 2016 to March 2017 part of the line had to be closed due to damage caused by a landslip which caused much obstruction to regular passengers. To celebrate its reopening in 2017, it was the first mainline scheduled service in England for nearly half a century ran with a steam engine. Train spotters from all over the country came to view the spectacular event!