Ribbelhead is the quintessential example of how the Settle – Carlisle Railway was built. Its station is nowhere near a town, the nearest being Ingleton, 13 miles away.
It is also the site of the longest of the 20 viaducts built along the line to smooth the rail tracks through the hills of the Yorkshire Dales. Walking down from the station, you can see how it connects two of the lower hills preventing the train from having to go all the way into the valley.
There is a car park to which people drive to visit the fantastic example of Victorian engineering, you do not have to travel by train to admire it. Completed in 1875, it took five years to build and is the longest of the viaducts along the railway line. Its length and position in the countryside mean that some people confuse it with the Glenfinnan viaduct, which was used as a film set in the Harry Potter films. The Scottish viaduct has fewer arches, 21 to Ribbelhead’s 24 and is shorter too. The curve at which the viaduct on the West Highlands line was built probably gave it the edge to be used in the film.
As you approach it along the well-maintained footpath you not only see its impressive length but also how high the arches were built.
The trains that pass over it appear quite small in comparison.
As with other stations along the route, there is a Grand Day Out walk, that took us under the viaduct, up the hill the other side of it, along the Ribble and as always in the Dales, past some sheep. This one posing very nicely for the tourist walking past.
There are a couple of smaller briges under the railway track, one of which we used to loop back to the side of the viaduct we had started on. From the gentle path down we were able to admire the viaduct from a different angle too.