A Walk across Ribblehead Viaduct – 22 July 2007
Location : Ribblehead / Ingleton / Hawes / Dent
Ordnance Survey – SD 759793
The railway was closed for two weeks in July as part of a five year, £60 million upgrade of the line, and Network Rail agreed to open the viaduct to the public on Sunday 22 July, the final day of the closure.
Radio presenter Mike Harding officially opened the event (see BBC link below), which ran from 10 am until 4 pm. The 24-arch viaduct is a quarter of a mile long, 104 feet high and was completed in 1875 after taking five years to build.
Gary Openshaw, Network Rail’s area general manager said: “We would not normally encourage people to walk along a railway line but this is being done in a supervised and safe manner.”
The Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line was formed 26 years ago when the line was under threat of closure partly because it was thought Ribblehead Viaduct was beyond economic repair. Happily, the viaduct was in nowhere near as bad a state as had been thought. It was repaired and the line was saved. Tony Freschini, who helped organise the event, was a senior British Rail engineer at the time.
The event helped to raise money to pay for developing the Ribblehead station site, recently acquired by the Settle & Carlisle Railway Trust with support from the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line.
Over 2,000 people took a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk across the Ribblehead viaduct, one of the great industrial wonders of this country.
Groups of 25 walkers set off across the viaduct every five minutes, after first having a safety brief. There were 200 volunteers at the event too, members of the Friends of Settle Carlisle Line, helping the walkers across the viaduct and pointing out things of interest along the way.
As a result of this walk, more than £25,000 has been raised towards the cost of renovating the old station master’s house at Ribblehead. The cash will go towards converting it into two flats, which will be rented to provide revenue for the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line, organisers of the walk.
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