The Ribblehead viaduct sweeps across the bleak, lonely, North Yorkshire moor carrying the Settle-Carlisle railway line across the Ribble Valley. A route the train line has traversed since the viaduct’s completion during the Victorian period.
Getting off the train at Ribblehead station feels as though you are hundreds of miles away from civilization. The sky truly seems endless in this remote stretch of England. Passengers can walk right up to the viaduct and stand under the arches, sturdy boots are a bit of a requirement as the ground is very marshy. The massive work of railway architecture was designed by John Sydney Crossley, who was the chief engineer for the Midland Railway. It took more than 2,000 men to build this massive structure, with many losing their lives in the process. The work was so intensive and demanding that a small shantytown was established just below the bridge to house the workers. In 1874 the viaduct was complete, with the Settle–Carlisle line opening just a few years later.
The area is considered a scheduled ancient monument, as the remains of the camps can still be seen. Many of these camps were given distinct names such as Belgravia and Sebastopol, named after a famous siege that took place during the Crimean War. It’s also believed that the remains of many of the workers are buried around the site.