Note added 08 March
It is almost eight years since the
memorable day recorded here and much has happened to me in that
time. You may ask why I retain this page on our website and
the simple answer is that the day still ranks as one of the
happiest and most memorable in the past few
1st August 2002
Sixtieth Birthday Present from Kathryn Rich and
This Journal is
Dedicated to Them With Love
pulls in with a smoke-swilling lumber
And I make a note of its infinite number
I’m very excited, my hand is unsteady
And then I remember, I’ve got it already.
The most spectacular railway through the Yorkshire Dales is
undoubtedly the Settle & Carlisle
Railway (known by railwaymen as the Long Drag) which was built
between 1869 and 1876 by the Midland Railway Company.
Route to Scotland
Construction was undertaken primarily in order to give the Midland
Railway a direct route to Scotland and to avoid having to use the
line from Ingleton to Lowgill (near Tebay, Cumbria) which was owned
by its great rival the L&NWR (London and North Western
Railway). The Settle - Carlisle Railway was one of the last great
building projects of the Victorian railway age. The Parliamentary
Bill authorisng construction of the line, received its Royal Assent
on 16 July 1866 and the line opened for passenger traffic over ten
years later on 1 May 1876.
Shortly after leaving Ribbleshead Station, the famous 24 arch and
104 feet high Ribblehead
Viaduct is reached. The viaduct is a quarter of a mile long and
each sixth pier was designed with increased strength. The first
stone was laid by William H Ashwell on October 12 1870. The piers
were sunk 25 feet below moor level and set in concrete in order to
provide a suitable foundation. It has been said that the viaduct
was “built on wool” alluding to the fact that the Midland Railway’s
backers included some of the wealthy Bradford wool merchants of the
day. In 1984 the track over the viaduct was singled and slewed to
the centre. The viaduct became the focus of a determined attempt by
British Rail to abandon the line, using the excuse that due to its
deteriorating condition, expenditure of several millions would be
needed for refurbishment. This triggered a concerted campaign by
lovers of the line and resulted in the formation of a pressure
group to oppose plans for its closure.
I became interested in the line at the time of the closure plans
and long wished to take the train. What follows is an account of
the granting of that wish - a 60th birthday present, given in May
by my daughter Kathryn, her husband Rich and grand daughter Daisy
and enjoyed with them and my husband Tez on what started as a
gloomy day on 1 August 2002.
It is six thirty am and I am wide awake. Today is the day! I peer
out of the window and the view is grim: thick low cloud and the
promise of much rain. My enthusiasm is undimmed.
At half past seven I decide to get up and have a hot shower. The
view from the bedroom window is a little lighter but not a great
We are all up and having breakfast at eight o’clock. We are in good
spirits and ignore the weather. It is rather hot and sticky for all
the absence of sun.
At nine thirty we climb aboard Rich’s Toyota RAV4 and off we go! I
am sitting between Daisy and Kathryn in the back of the car and the
morning is still dark and cloudy. Jim, Rich’s brother, says that
the journey time to Settle is one hour and seven minutes and we
laugh at the confidence behind such precision. I note Rich’s gleam
and have a strong feeling that today may well be different!
The journey is a delight: from Colton to Otley, through Ilkley, on
to Skipton and there is a noticeable difference in the colour of
the cloud that changes from a dirty to an off white although there
is no blue sky to be seen.
We arrive at Settle at ten forty after a very pleasant one hour and
ten minutes’ journey (Rich says the lights must have been against
us!!). The station is absolutely wonderful and we marvel at the
neatness of the flower beds, pots and baskets and the absence of
the tiniest piece of litter. There are not even the usual weeds
between the track rails.
We queue for the loo and I get talking to a very nice chatty lady.
She is in her sixties and lost her husband a few years before. She
has found a new man friend and they have spent the summer going on
various trips. Today they are bound for Carlisle. I tell her about
my birthday and the trip (it was quite a long queue!) and then
we say goodbye and wish each other a lovely day.
The information Kathryn provided on my birthday, tells me that
Settle is a bustling market town in the foothills of the Pennines
amongst some of the most picturesque scenery in North Yorkshire.
The town stands beside the largest outcrop of limestone in Britain
- in a region of scars, cliffs and potholes. Apparently, at the
rear of the town a zigzag footpath leads to the summit of
Castleberg crag offering a vantagepoint of the town in its dale and
fell. It also tells me that Settle is a good base for exploring the
the shop and buy postcards. Rich buys me a Settle Station logo
fridge magnet and a superb commemorative slate coaster. Tez buys a
beautiful sunset print of the Viaduct which we shall frame. We have
plenty of time before the train so decide to have a closer look at
centre is dominated by the Shambles, a historic three storey
building with shops on two levels and houses above, and the town
hall, built on the site of the toll-booth which I learn was pulled
down in 1820. The cloud is still overhead but the day is very warm.
I fancy a “teested toecake” in the Settle Down Café and we all look
for the “Settle Up” betting shop and the “Settle Inn” hotel without
We pile into the café and explain to the proprietress, a portly
dark haired lady who oozes authority, that we are to catch the
eleven forty six to Carlisle and ask if we have time for a toasted
teacake. “I’ll get you one” was her reassuring response.
It was delicious and the coffee was excellent too but we are a
little anxious that time is creeping on and we must retrieve the
picnic bags from the car before we board the train.
We reach the
station in plenty of time and at eleven forty five the train pulls
into a crowded platform. I have not mentioned that there has been a
slight disappointment attached to the trip. The plan had been for a
steam engine excursion on the Dalesman which had been
cancelled by the organisers, Ribblesdale Railtours, owing to
insufficient subscription. So we have weathered that small setback
and opted for the regular service diesel. Perhaps not so impressive
to look at but just as exciting for this loving journey.
We are at the back of the train now and I am given a welcome
surprise by Rich whom we follow to the front as he tells me he has
reserved our seats. They are occupied of course but by two elderly
ladies who seem reluctant to take their bottoms elsewhere. A
meaningful look and a flourish of the seat reservations finally
ousts the interlopers and we make ourselves comfortable.
It is barely
noon and the clink of the refreshment trolley brings a smile. The
clink of the gin and tonics which Kathryn and I imbibe also bring a
smile. Rich and Tez sip their beer with contented grins.
And the next stop is Horton in Ribblesdale where we are again
treated to the sight of a spotless station and a fair few new
passengers none of whom try to unseat us.
We are all glued to the windows except Daisy who seems to be
particularly endowed with artistic inspiration today and is drawing
many different aspects of the impressive scene.
Station in England
pull into Dent which we are told is 1150 feet above sea level, the
highest railway station in England. The views are breathtaking and
as we climb we are sure the cloud is thinning. There is a patch of
blue, perhaps not quite big enough for a pair of trousers but
I am scribbling in my notebook and Daisy signs it to Granmo. She
draws a picture of the oak tree swing in what Daisy refers to as
her Farnham Garden and Daddy takes a picture of us both to mark the
moment. Granmo has difficulty taking her eyes off the view.
On we go,
over the viaduct and as we look back at the magnificent feat of
engineering I experience a definite tingle factor.
Down below in the valley, walkers looking like Lowry matchstick men
and women clad in brightly coloured cagoules, have stopped to take
in the magnificent sight and to wave to our tiny train high above
THE TRIPLE TRUMPING
We wave back happily and I feel special.
Up here, cosy in the train with loved ones and the stark sight of
nature all around us: a hill with its head in the clouds and its
feet in the station. Then we are through the dark tunnel. The
train’s whistle gives three hoots one after the other and we all
wear rueful grins at the poor train having to relieve itself of
such obviously desperate flatulence, Daisy is highly amused and so
is Granpo who came up with the following:
The train was chugging down the track
And rode across a bump
Then suddenly out of nowhere
There came a triple trump.
Was that you said the driver
To the engine in his care
There’s suddenly an awful smell
Lingering in the air.
It wasn’t me, the train replied
But surely he’d not forgotten
That when he went across the bump
A triple trump blew from his bottom!
Just Sheep and
We see no
more people just sheep – lots of not very woolly sheep huddled
against a wall for shelter from the breeze which up here reigns
free. And one or two cows. Daisy likes the cows and draws a picture
for me of a very self satisfied member of that clan.
I scribble in my journal that we are passing a smoky mountain with
black clouds for a hat and swathes of green for a skirt. The
contrast in weather is amazing. Then it’s Garsdale, Kirby Stephen
and the train is at last making its way down the hill to our
destination – Appleby-in-Westmorland and toward what looks
remarkably like the midday sun! We see lots of pink sandstone
cottages and larger buildings. The little blue and white diesel
train is on time and as we alight, a gust of wind blows our hair
about and seems to send the, by now, puffy white clouds over the
hill and far away. Suddenly it is summer and we skip our way down
into the town feeling specially chosen for the sun to shine upon
Appleby in Westmorland,
my printed leaflet tells me, is the former County-town of
Westmorland and is one of the most picturesque in the North. We can
give testament to this as we walk along the river in the by now,
hot, bright sunshine.
It is hard to believe that less than an hour ago the sky was
overcast and rain looked a certainty.
We choose a
place to picnic by the river and are soon joined by a flock of fine
mallard ducks with whom we (with Daisy’s help) share our lunch. The
mini muffins seem to go down very well. With me too and I have four
(admit to having four!!).
The town is lovely and I read with interest that it is set in the
natural loop of the River Eden, protected on the fourth side by
Appleby Castle which dates back to Norman times. Rich takes more
pictures, Kathryn relaxes on the river bank and Tez takes Daisy for
a play on the nearby swings. I take everything in from the sweep of
the trees into the river and the intermittent sounds of logs
falling into the water. Logs drift downstream and a passer-by tells
us about the horrendous storms and torrential rain of the past
weeks, the consequences of which are there to be seen in the fallen
trees and collapsed river bank.
beers are drunk, the sandwiches and pork pies eaten and the mini
muffins hidden from view so we collect our bags and walk towards
the town centre. Appleby-in-Westmorland is having a quiet day today
when compared to the small town where Tez and I live; a silent day
when compared to the big city that is home to Kathryn, Rich and
We stroll down a lane with medieval buildings on either side which
we note is called Low Wiend and find out later from the Tourist
Information Bureau that this is a Saxon word for winding lane.
Then we make our way up the Borough and Rich stops to admire a
picture in a shop window of about twenty five different breeds of
sheep, “Is that the Appleby equivalent of the Pirelli calendar?” he
asks innocently and Kathryn, Tez and I roar with laughter. This was
the first but not the last sheep crack of the day!
A pause for a photo opportunity and I sit under the Appleby town
memorial with its statue and words of wisdom pictured here.
On up to the castle gates where we spot a small herd of goats in a
field to the right who trot inquisitively towards us and prove to
be partial to stroking. They are strange looking creatures with
rakish goatee beards and ornate horns. They are kindly and we pet
them but the musky, strange, though not really unpleasant smell
stays with us for the rest of the day. I can even smell those goats
now , many months later as I pause in the transcription to
typescript of the journal I wrote that day. We called one of them
Cecil and he reminded me of the long ago-read novels by Dennis
Wheatley which invariably featured a satanic goat and the maxim “Do
what thou wilt be the whole of the law.”
which had earlier given short shrift to the midday clouds gathers
up speed and we put our jackets back on and stop for a beer at the
White Hart Hotel. We drink outside in the front garden before
making our way in glorious sunshine to the souvenir shop next door
which is aptly named the Courtyard Gallery.
I can recall passing through the splendid wrought iron gate and
climbing the steps on the outside of the building to reach the
Aladin’s cave on the upper floor. It was full of the usual mementos
but with some really good prints and sculptures crafted locally.
Daisy is crying and as I enquire the cause she sniffs and Rich
comforts her with reassuring words.
Tezzie buys me some really beautiful delicate green dangling
earrings. I give him a squeeze and feel very pleased and very
blessed, I buy myself a commonplace book for the purpose of writing
up this journal.
A Present from
the street again, calling in at other shops and from one, Daisy
buys me a pottery figure of a dear little sleeping cat, a friend,
she tells me, for my larger wooden sleeping feline which has a
permanent place back home on the bookshelf under the sitting room
window. Apparently the tears were because she couldn’t find
anything appropriate for me in the Courtyard Gallery but she is dry
eyed and happy now and can see that I really love the little chap,
pictured here because he is so special a reminder of that day. And
he does indeed now rest with his bigger brother on the book shelf
at home and cat-naps the days away.
of blessedness intensifies as we slowly and happily make our way
back to the station for the return train to Settle. As we walk, the
clouds roll back to the place they had been so quickly blown from
some four hours before. The sun is hidden and it looks like
Back to Appleby station, so clean and delightfully olde worlde. We
pose for photographs, I am perched high on the bridge and Daisy
runs up the steps to join me. Tez and Rich are happily taking
pictures from the platform below. The day clouds over and the rain
really threatens. Time stands still in Appleby. Or does it race
ahead? The clock shows five minutes past six but the time is
actually five o’clock.
We sit on the platform awaiting the four minutes past five train,
chatting to a family sitting near and then spot Daisy’s Cindy
mermaid doll lying on the ground by the entrance. Rich runs over
the bridge to retrieve it and a station tannoy announcement tells
us that the train will be late due to “a landslide in the
Armthwaite area” I am glad that I have never had a landslide in the
armthwaite area!. Blue-black, inky thumbprint clouds scud across
the darkening sky. The rain begins with spray-like drops. I don’t
mind at all.
The mist is down and the tops of the hills barely visible. The
evening grows steadily darker although it is not yet six o’clock.
We pull into Garsdale. The lights are on and the reflection winks
up from the shiny rain-soaked platform surface. As the train heads
for Denton, Kathryn and I make sure that we have a good view of the
viaduct and need to sit at the other side of the train to do this.
A man is sitting alone speaking on a mobile telephone. He is loudly
bemoaning the fact that the train “is miles from anywhere and
nowhere near Leeds yet".
Kathryn and I realise
that he is not looking out of the window and the memorial to the
“navvies” of 1870 has totally failed to make an impression. Not
with us though and we again take in the lonely splendour as the
train snakes its way forward, bringing into view the magnificent
structure, side-on in its starkest glory.
quieter than on the outward trip and Rich nods off only to be
wakened by Daisy who is drawing a picture of Granmo looking out of
the train window. We make the return sortie through the tunnel to
the shriek of the rude trumplike whistles. The rain lashes more
heavily and the cottages as well as the sheep, race past the
window, hugging the hillside and we indulge in one last mini
muffin. Rich telephones his mum, Cheryl, who tells him that her day
has been one long downpour and she is pleased and surprised and can
hardly credit the tale of our sunny afternoon.
The End of a Perfect
Where is the
we are pulling into Settle, sheep replaced by humans and I am
surprised and touched when Daisy, arms open ,says “Come here
Granmo” and indulges me with a wonderful cuddle and we rub noses.
Through the rain to the car, stuff piled inside and feeling very
cosy, we head for home singing “I know a Song That’ll get On Ya
Nerves”. It doesn’t in the least
An hour or so later the wonderful day is brought to a close with
Fish ‘n’ Chips and bubbly at Bryans’ restaurant in Headingley and
we are all agreed that we have had an absolutely fabulous Mo’s 60th
Birthday Present Day!
So ends this journal entry which recounts with much love, the
adventures of the day of the family trip on the Settle & Carlisle
That sounded through the valley?
That echoed through the night?
Where are the stations
Where people once would dally?
Where are the trains
What’s happened to our life?
Where is the steam
That rose above the cuttings?
Where are the engines
The thunderous beasts of steel?
Where are the porters
Whose uniforms were stunning?
Where are the people
Oh, how could they not feel?
Where are the houses
The stationmasters dwelt in?
Where are the rails
The grass has overgrown?
Where are the waiting rooms
Where people once would meet in?
Where is the feeling
The lifestyle we have known?
Where are the freight yards
That once would be so busy?
Where are the cattle
That once would ride aboard?
Where is the transport
To take us to the city?
The country way of life
That politicians have ignored.
YOU SO MUCH KATHRYN, RICH & DAISY
FOR A WONDERFUL DAY
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