Today was my only day off work in August and with my free travel on Virgin Trains East Coast coming to end in 3 days time, I felt the need to head north from Kings Cross one last time. After a bit of soul-searching, I decided to ride the scenic Settle and Carlisle railway and walk between Dent and Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales.
The Settle and Carlisle railway is a route between Leeds and Carlisle, in the north of England passing through the picturesque Yorkshire Dales National Park. The stunning natural landscapes are a combination of rolling hills, gentle valleys, woodland, wild moorlands and pretty villages all together creating unique and beautiful vistas from every angle.
Along the route, the railway passes over several viaducts, such as the one at Ribblehead. This particular viaduct has 45 arches, each spanning 14 metres enabling the railway to be carried across Batty Moss in the valley of the River Ribble. This marvel of Victorian engineering measures 400 metres in length, 32 metres in height and was opened to rail traffic in August 1875.
In the northbound direction, the next station along after Ribblehead is Dent. Dent station is nowhere near Dent village and if you leave the train and walk back towards Ribblehead, you will notice just how isolated a location Dent station occupies. If you do make it here, you will have also visited England’s highest station at 350 metres above sea level.
Between Dent and Ribblehead, just before Blea Moor tunnel
That’s the railway, now the walk…
Start: Dent railway station
End: Ribblehead railway station
Distance: 14.7 km (my iPhone fitness app recorded 16 km)
Time: a minimum of about 4.5 hours (it took me 4 hours 40 minutes with stops for photographs and food – could’ve been quicker but could’ve just as easily been slower)
Terrain: good surfaces with variable gradients (well…. It was a combination of asphalt roads, loose cobbled paths, fields and plenty of mud)
The Walking Route
From Dent station, exit through the gate and walk down the approach road to the surfaced road and then turn right, walking uphill for 1.8 km
As the road starts to ease leftwards, look for the wide bridleway on a lane turning right. Take this, which follows the contours for 3.2 km, until you meet with another wide track.
Turn right here, descending Arten Gill. After 1.8 km you will pass under the railway viaduct from where it is a further 0.6 km to the Dentdale to Newby Head road.
Turn left here and walk along the road for 1.3 km (around 15 minutes). Take care to walk on the ride hand side of the road and watch out for traffic.
At Bridge End find the next section of footpath off the road on the right. Cross the bridge, turn left and follow the path – aiming at Dent Head Farm, ahead. Continue beyond the farm in the same general direction onto a slight ridge and then veer slightly right, around the mouth of the railway tunnel. This section is 1 km.
From the tunnel mouth follow the track upwards in a south-westerly direction, through conifers at first and then across open moor in a straight line (over the top of the railway tunnel). You will see three tunnel vent shafts.
Once the railway re-appears, descend down on the right hand side of the tracks, until you meet the main path descending from Whernside.
Once joined, this main path crosses over the railway line via a bridge and from there continues to the left of the railway until you reach the road at Ribblehead, where you will find The Station Inn.
To catch the train, turn right onto the road for 100m, where you’ll find the Ribblehead station access road leading off to the left just before the road goes under the railway line.
Directions, printable map and information from the Yorkshire Dales NP website.
Looking back down the road towards Dent station
Pepper the Poodle: The view from the path circling around Great Knoutberry Hill
Great Knoutberry Hill along Dent Fell
Looking back towards Artengill viaduct from Stone House
Rural living: Bridge End Cottage
How to get there?
These are the timetables for Wednesday 16th August to give you a rough idea of the journey length and departure times from Leeds, London, Manchester and York. To check actual train times for any selected date and ticket prices visit VTEC or Northern.
Settle and Carlisle Line...
Services along the scenic Settle and Carlisle line are infrequent so it is best to plan your connection at Leeds, and the return train journey from Ribblehead. For Wednesday 16th August, the best afternoon option was to catch the 10:49 departure from Leeds, arriving Dent at 12:12. This then gave 5.5 hours to complete the 16 km walk between Dent and Ribblehead stations. The return train from Ribblehead departed at 17:42, arriving Leeds at 19:07.
Again, these train times were valid for Wednesday 16th August: From London Kings Cross catch the 08:06 train to Leeds, from Manchester Piccadilly catch the train to Hull at 09:41 changing at Leeds or from York catch the 09:53 train towards Manchester Airport, changing at Leeds.
There are always more photos to be shared, (but sharing them all on this journal page will just make it look cluttered - so if you want to see more photos for inspiration, check out my Flickr "2017 - England" album.
More British days out?
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