The West Coast Main Line Railway in Cumbria
The West Coast Main Line provides fast, long-distance Intercity passenger services between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and southern Scotland. There are three stations in Cumbria, at Carlisle, Penrith, and Oxenholme, near Kendal. At Oxenhome is a branch line to Kendal and Windermere. There are some through trains from Manchester via Preston to Windermere.
From Carlisle are other lines to the West Coast – Workington and Whitehaven etc, to Newcastle via Brampton, and to Leeds via the famous Carlisle to Settle line.
Just south of Penrith and visible from the train, are two ancient pele towers – Yanwath Hall and Clifton Hall Pele.
Shap Summit, about 2¼ miles south of the former Shap station, is the highest point on the West Coast main railway line from London to Glasgow, at 914ft above sea level.
A short distance south of Shap village, the Kemp Howe stone circle is cut in two by the West Coast Main Line Railway, and overshadowed by the Corus Shapfell lime works. Only six stones remain, with others probably under the railway embankment, and those that were on the other side of the railway now lost after construction of the works sidings.
The Lune Gorge south of Tebay is widely acknowledged as the most beautiful stretch of both the motorway and the railway. The Gorge cleaves through a geological fault line in the band of hills which joins the Pennines with the Lake District fells.
Through it pours the River Lune, which is fed by a wide catchment across the hills above the Gorge, from the broad norther flank of the Howgill Fells to Orton Scar, and the Birbeck fells to the west.
Historically the gorge has carried the main north-south arterial road through the county, the motorway, the railway, and the Roman Road. This was guarded by a Roman Fort midway down the Gorge, the remains of which can be seen at Low Borrow Bridge. The Gorge, and the lower reaches of the lovely Borrowdale valley, which joins it at Low Borrow Bridge, remains richly clothed in the deciduous woodland which has graced them both for so many centuries.
The 73 ft high Borrowbeck viaduct carrying the M6 motorway over the Borrow Beck, just south of Tebay, is close to and 10 ft higher than the stone arch railway viaduct carrying the West Coast main line to Glasgow. The central span of the curved motorway viaduct was designed to frame the railway viaduct when viewed from the realigned A685, itself on a new curved bridge over Borrow Beck.