Settle-Carlisle Railway

20 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

September, 2019

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Reasons for trip

As one of the UK’s most scenic railway journeys the Settle to Carlisle Line has been high on our list of days out for a long time. Northern Rail had a 10p sale this September so we were fortunate enough to buy two 10p tickets to take us from Leeds to Carlisle via Settle. Better than that, as we live in Wigan we were also able to get tickets on the same day to Leeds for 10p.

We duly arrived in time for the 08:55 from Wigan to Leeds and were comfortably sat with a table on one of Northern’s newer trains. Although modern, driverless technology had not been installed, and as the driver didn’t turn up we had to take the less comfortable 09:08 service to Manchester Victoria and change onto the 10:02 from Victoria to Leeds. This actually got us into Leeds 14 minutes earlier as it made less stops between Manchester and Leeds. We had plenty of time to walk into the city centre for an early lunch, returning to the station in plenty of time to catch the 13:18 to Carlisle.

The front two thirds of our carriage were reserved and we were joined at Keighley by a party on a Great Rail Journey’s holiday. They were having a great day out having spent the morning on the Worth Valley Railway, exploring Bronte country and Oakworth, the station used in the “Railway Children”. Once we left Keighley the scenery improved mile by mile till we reached Settle. As if the journey so far was not good enough we had the added benefit of a volunteer guide giving a commentary all the way from Settle to Carlisle.

On a clear day the scenery would be truly outstanding, as even in the rain it was great. Not only is the countryside worth looking at, but as you can see from the photograph of Kirkby Stephen station the buildings along the line are also attractive. You get a sense of nostalgia as a number of stations still have the hoses to fill steam trains with water and semaphore signals.

As you cross the Ribblehead Viaduct you feel as though you are floating in mid – air. Unfortunately you don’t get a good view of the viaduct itself. If you want to take one of the iconic photographs get off at the station just before the viaduct and continue your journey on a later train.

We arrived in Carlisle on schedule and when booking the tickets we allowed and hour to catch the train back to Wigan. This was a good move, as although there was a train the adjacent platform when we arrived, you could not guarantee making this connection had there been a delay.

Had we booked standard class tickets, using our senior railcards, we could have booked the entire trip for the two of us for less than £20.00, but we splashed out the extra to travel first class on a Virgin Train’s Pendolino. Unfortunately, Carlisle Station does not have a First Class Lounge to relax in whilst waiting for your train. However, just outside the station is “The Griffin” where for £2.99 you can have a coffee and a cake. Not only was the cake delicious, but also a generous portion. So good in fact that if we ever have to change trains again in Carlisle we will schedule enough time to treat ourselves to another one!

The weekday service in first class includes a snack accompanied by a rather nice glass of wine. The journey from Carlisle back to Wigan is so swift that I barely had time to confirm by email, using the on board WiFi, the itinerary for American friends of a trip to Scotland taking in the North Coast 500, plus trips to Orkney, Skye, Argyll and the West Highland Line (reviews to follow) before it was time to get off.

All in all, an excellent day out. Whether or not Northern have another 10p sale this is a journey to be repeated. Possibly with stops to enjoy the Worth Valley Railway and take that photograph of the Ribblehead Viaduct.


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