Tag Archives: Ribblehead viaduct

The Dalesman

The Dalesman brochureThe Dalesman is a Steam train ride between Settle and Carlisle in northern Britain across what has been described as “the most scenic railway journey in England”.

We had booked for a Tuesday at the end of a few days in the UK and had stayed overnight in Chester both beforehand and afterwards.

After the heatwave and wall to wall sun of the previous week, we are presented with wall to wall cloud and the prospect of rain all day which wasn’t ideal as it curtailed some of the splendid views across the North Yorkshire and Cumbrian moors.

The taxi to the station arrives on time and drops us off at Chester station in plenty of time for our scheduled 08:23 departure.


Wooden train at Chester station

Confusion reigns as staff and electronic board say we depart at 07:48 so there is the prospect of lots of people missing the train and we walk down loads of empty carriages before settling in to our comfy seats.

However, departure time is altered to 08:20 and the two Class 37 diesels that are taking us on the first part of the journey make easy meat of the start and first part of the journey.

Mickle Trafford junction is soon passed and by the time steam engine No. 48151 is attached at the rear of the train, just outside Carnforth, the rain has stopped although the temperature has fallen.


Yes, we splashed out and went 1st class

Breakfast served between Frodsham and Carnforth, a full English and served well, timely with good quality food.

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Hellifield South Signal Box

At Carnforth we turn right and follow the Bentham line towards Settle and Hellifield with rolling green countryside, dry stone walls, many streams rolling by, sheep grazing, cows scared of the steam engine and the clickety clack of the train as it passes over the joints in the rails.

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Hellifield Station, photographers, service train to Carlisle and onlookers

No continuous welded rail here, it is a rural route with few trains.

Hellifield reached on time and we pull onto a side line and reverse to head North, stopping adjacent to the station to fill up with water whilst a few hardy souls stand on the overgrown platforms to photograph our train.

My late father worked for the railways and possibly about 90 years ago, he spent some time at Hellifield so a picture of the station and the signal box was required as somewhere in the archives is a picture of him outside the signal box.


Leaving Hellifield

We have now reversed with the Steam engine at the front and we are now near the front with the evocative smoke smell which sadly cannot be captured on a video.

Disappointed that the extra coffee was chargeable we make do with one only and make a mental note to bring our own in the future.

Our Steward for the journey was a guy called James, who didn’t seem particularly happy in his job with not a particularly sociable personality which was a shame. The food however was very good.

Across the Ribblehead viaduct with many photographers on the ground below and we sedately go into Blea Moor tunnel with the smell of the smoke from the engine even more prevalent.


Our engine for the journey – 48151 – at Appleby

Lots of cuttings and embankments – passing Dent where I had held a Scout camp back in 1972 and remember seeing all the trains passing by on an embankment high above the campsite.

Thank goodness the land around here remains undeveloped.

We have a water stop at Appleby, a chance to stretch legs but it is cold.

Cross bridge along with a few other fellow passengers to get a better view of the engine.

Weather has closed in and we have even more misted up windows. Still, there are a few linesiders braving the weather for the photo opportunities a steam engine presents even though this is a weekly event during the summer.

Still raining when we reach Carlisle for our 3 hour walk around. Coffee in M & S but the rest of the time dodging rain moving from shop to shop rather than seeing the sights.

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Carlisle Station under renovation

Back at Carlisle Station we await our train South watching some crowded service trains pass by and prepare for departure into Scotland.

Now being at the back of the train it afforded some fantastic views of the whole train passing over the Ribblehead Viaduct on the way back.

I must admit I did hog the window a bit during this time but “I got there first”.


The Dalesman steaming over the Ribblehead Viaduct

I think the next time we are in the area during summer we must try and stop to view the train from the land, especially if the sun is shining in a cloudless sky.

The Dalesman Menu

Food, glorious food.

The Dinner service begun as we leave Carlisle on time and is extended until just before Hellifield where our steam engine is detached and after manoeuvring around it’s support coach heads off to it’s home base of Carnforth whilst the two diesels are reattached and we await our path over the line to Clitheroe which is only normally used once a week.

Still there are people waiting on the platform ready to photograph or just stand and stare at the old coaches and engine.

By now, it was becoming dusk so photographs, especially from a moving train were not going to be good.

The whole trip was a wonderful experience with many thanks to West Coast Railways Limited, and the Caterers, The Gravy Train Catering Company.

The one downside was the sudden jerk as we arrived at Chester in the evening which caused at least one passenger to fall over and Sally to hit her arm.

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Engine on its way back to Carnforth

It is now back for a couple of weeks before a trip planned to Norfolk.




Catch up with friends

ReadRigney kidsSaturday 17 June

Another ferry crossing with old cars leaving after a rally and an extraordinarily empty road south to an overnight in a Birmingham hotel.

Sunday 18 June

Visit to Flic, Gary and Cody outside Reading; it is getting hot and the temperatures here are approaching 30C.  Cody in particular is suffering in the heat.

Monday 19 June

Train to London with a change at Reading, the trains are all disrupted because of the heat that might buckle the rails so we arrive about 90 minutes late into Paddington.


Intercontinental hotel, Mayfair

Too late for a visit anywhere other than to our hotel as we are meeting Phillip & Sylvia at the Goring Hotel for pre dinner drinks so chill out at the Intercontinental Hotel Mayfair using our free night using the points we had collected in the past.

Bus down to the Goring following the perimeter road around Buckingham Palace and some pre meal drinks with Phillip & Sylvia before we set off for an Indian meal at Quilon at Buckingham Gate.


After meal drinks at The Goring

An interesting Indian restaurant  which generally has good reviews although I will say it wasn’t anything special in my opinion  (see comments later!!).

Back at the Goring, we had a after dinner drink in their seaside themed garden, an oasis of quiet in the middle of London.

Tuesday 20 June

We managed to stay in Central London without spending a penny on accommodation or food in the hotel we stayed in as for breakfast I went out to a nearby Pret at Green Park for a croissant rather than the £20 or so breakfast in the hotel – not sure they will let us back in again at the hotel!


Down Street Tube Station (now closed)

I’m off to a Hidden London tour in August but not to this one, Down Street Tube Station – perhaps another day – it was just around the corner form the Intercontinental Hotel, Mayfair and near the Pret at Green Park.

Back to Reading (it was too hot to stay in London) and then we set off to Essex for a few days, staying a couple of nights at a Crowne Plaza holiday complex near Maldon.

Wednesday 21 June


If only I could remember where this was taken! (the wine and beer were good though)

Explored a few interesting and not so interesting areas around the area, including a vineyard and a walk along the coast at Clacton.

The lowlight of this was a drive through Jaywick – certainly a place to avoid although some of the house architecture was interesting!  A place to be avoided.

By now, the effects of the Indian Meal had begun to bite and with a vengeance. Too cut a long story short, we had to stay pretty close to some public conveniences for the next 7 days and learnt later that Phillip had to return home early from London due to what he was told was food poisoning.  Think that is what we had as well – not good Quilon, which is why my marks for the restaurant would be somewhat down the scale.

It was still very hot, so even a drive was exhausting so we headed back to the hotel for a rest and a meal in the hotel. Meal pretty good for a hotel.


Queen’s Road, Buckhurst Hill

Thursday 22 June

Drive up to the NE London/Essex borders to Pete & Lorraine’s for a get together. Pete is still working silly hours on the fruit markets and Lorraine is still working but plan their week so that they have at least Thursday off.

A lovely meal in Leonardos in nearby Buckhurst Hill and a photo opportunity on Queen’s Road which is well known to “The Only Way is Essex” fans.

Back to our hotel in deepest Essex for a restful night.

Friday 23 June

A country drive towards Cambridge for a catch up with Sally’s brother, Nick and his wife Ute. Peter, eldest son, had just sat an A level so arrived after an hour or so, Paul was on holiday with some friends so we never got to see him.

A great, as always, meal cooked up by Nick and a good catch up before we head off for an overnight with John & Deirdre in Bedford.



A new addition to the family in Bedford is Lucy, a cockapoo who is a lively little creature that seems to be causing a bit of havoc to the garden at least.

Deirdre was adamant when we were on the cruise that she was getting a dog and had her heart set upon a cockapoo.

John however, well that is another story – at least his medical issues have gone away

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June

More of the same with Lucy, whilst John & Deirdre are helping at the church for a function.


Garden destruction

Monday 26 June

Sett off for a long drive to Chester stopping off at a few shops for some supplies we can’t get at home but not before a sneaky photo of our 5 (between us) children taken a very long time ago – the one at the top of the blog which was taken c 1989.

Tomorrow is of course a steam train trip from Chester to Carlisle across the famous Ribblehead Viaduct  – only the 2nd time I have been across this famous landmark and unfortunately the weather appears to be about the same as it was the last time, some 30+ years ago.

Look out for my next blog.