During our UK Holiday in 2015 we made a walk to the Penyghent. As it is close to the Ribblehead viaduct in the Carlisle to Settle railway line, I reserved some time to see that famous viaduct.
1 The Ribblehead Viaduct carries the Settle-Carlisle Railway across the valley of the River Ribble. The first stone was laid on 12 October 1870 and it was opened in 1875. It is reputed to have cost 200 lives from diseases and accidents. The viaduct is 440 yards (400 m) long, and 104 feet (32 m) above the valley floor at its highest point. It has 24 spans. British Rail attempted to close the line in the 1980s. The closure proposals generated tremendous protest and were eventually retracted. The line is now in regular use and it is also a popular destination for steam specials. (Click the pin at the upper right corner of the text box to see the viaduct's location)
2 While taking in the spectacular view of the viaduct I noted that there was a waiting crowd which very closely resembled a group of train enthusiasts. I knew at the instant there was a steam special underway.
3 Despite that knowledge we drove on to Helwith Bridge, after all we were here for a walk and not for a steam special. But we were ignorant of the fact that the Settle-Carlisle line follows the river Ribble and passes under the same bridge as the river at Helwith Bridge. There we stumbled upon a handful of men with cameras, craning their necks. I asked if a steam special was coming up. They stared at me with disbelief. They nodded. What loco? I asked. Black Five. Ah, when? One simply pointed, and there behind the next hilltop we could see a smoke pillar rising. Just minutes away. I grabbed my camera...