Monday, 27 July 2009

Walking in the rain, rain, rain!

Yes, my worst fears were realised - it was a very wet day up there on the watershed of the Pennine Chain. But did it deter walkers crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct - not at all - more than three thousand crossed over the quarter of a mile viaduct yesterday.
This is only the second time that people have been allowed to walk along the railway track. Network rail were doing repairs lower down the line and all trains were cancelled for the day, so it was opened up and well-advertised. Tickets were £15 each (I bought the farmer two for his Birthday) and the whole event was very well-organised.
We had to drive to a car park in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where a fleet of busses stood waiting to ferry us to Ribblehead station a few miles away. After walking the quarter of a mile we came down and walked back for about a mile along a footpath before being collected again by shuttle bus and taken back for our cars. We never had to wait longer than a couple of minutes - there were thousands of people and a whole fleet of busses.
Of course I have seen the viaduct many times from the road - indeed I posted it on my blog some time ago. Here are a few details:- it has twenty-four arches, it is one hundred and four feet high and it was completed in 1875, having taken five years to build. There was a time, a few years ago, when British Rail planned its closure. At the time (1983) only 93000 people a year were using the line. There was a public outcry and the line was kept open. Six years later
450,000 were using the line each year - it is a spectacular journey of which this viaduct is really the jewel in the crown.
However, there is a downside. During the building of it the workers suffered the most appalling conditions, there was a dreadful toll in casualties, several hundred died, most of them from cholera or smallpox. Some are buried in the churchyard at nearby Chapel-le-Dale, others have no known grave having been buried somewhere on the moor by the viaduct. Many of the men did not even give their names, but were called by nicknames, so there was no chance of contacting any relatives.
It cost over three million pounds to build - a huge sum for those times.
But what a spectacular building it is. The rain poured down, the wind howled, but there was a real Dunkirk spirit about - everyone laughing and joking. The farmer has a fear of heights but the parapet, as you will see in the photograph, is high enough to dispel that. It was not easy walking. We were warned not to tread on the tracks, as they were slippery. We walked by the side on large stones with sharp edges. But it was good to see the beautiful workmanship, The stones on the parapet were huge and all were carried up their by hand, there was little or no machinery available in those days.
Friends farm down in the valley, so you will see a misty view of their farm.
When we arrived home we were totally wet through to our skin - in spite of wearing waterproofs. But it was worth it!


Derrick said...

' Morning Weaver,

Rather you than me but I'm glad you had a good time. Is this the viaduct that can be seen from the Great Yorkshire Show ground? It certainly looks impressive. We have a few of our own up here.

I see you managed to collect the award pretty quickly. Well remembered!

Heather said...

So glad you enjoyed that walk, in spite of the dreadful weather. It must have been a wonderful experience even so, and the viaduct is a fitting monument to all those men who built such an amazing structure. It's good to know that the wall is quite high. I had visions of you each needing a parachute!

Studio Sylvia said...

Weaver, how wonderful to have such an impressive and distinguished engineering marvel, within such close travelling distance. Despite the weather, it seems you had an enjoyable day and the farmer had a great birthday present.

Robin Mac said...

What a marvellous birthday present, so glad the winds weren't so strong that the event was cancelled. the view of the countryside is completely different when you are walking along a viaduct like that. cheers, Robin

Titus said...

Lovely post, thank you for the description and detail of such a remarkable feat of engineering. It's beautiful too, and the grey day seemed to suit it, if not the participants!
Very inspirational.

Jenn Jilks said...

We're just over a rail strike, Weaver.
It is a great way to go.

What a great walk you had.

Hildred and Charles said...

Rain or no rain, what a great birthday adventure. Very impressive, - matches some of our engineering marvels in the Rockies.

Glad you and the Farmer had a good time, Weaver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derrick - thank you so much for that award - I have duly passed it on too.
I get in a lather about transferring things but this time I did it immediately with no bother!
No - the Ribblehead viaduct is on the watershed of the Pennine chain between Hawes and Ingleton - the three peaks area (PenyGhent, Whernside and Ingleborough)in the most bleak area of the Dales.
Looking forward to your Inspiration meme on Wednesday.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - funnily enough the parapet wall was high enough to give you a feeling of security.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sylvia - I cannot get a comment to stay on your site - at least I keep getting an e mail to say it hasn't been delivered. Are you receiving my comments please?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to you all for your comments - yes we had a lovely time, and no the rain did not spoil it at all.

North West Media Man said...

We certainly did get wet, didn't we?

I turned up at around 10am to take the VIPs and media party across the viaduct at 11 o'clock and in the hour or so I was out in the open the heavens opened. Fortunately for me I had full railway protective clothing so the only bit that actually got wet was my shirt collar where the rain ran down the back of my neck.

You mention that the railway line was closed for work. It actually closed on 9 July and is due to reopen tomorrow. If anyone is interested in knowing what we have actually been doing, take a look at my blog. I am new to blogging and my first post was all about the work.

The next will be about the walk, once I have received the official photos.

By the way, nice part of the world you live in. I fell in love with it and have taken my last 7 holidays in Thwaite. Wil be back again in October for another 'fix'.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

It looks so wonderfully atmospheric in the rain!

Reader Wil said...

You British people are very brave to walk through rain and foul weather!! And keeping a happy face at the same time! We, Dutch,face bad weather as well,but not always with a cheerful, smiling face. We shall follow your lead in future!!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love walking in the rain (well to a certain point!). it looks a magnificent viaducht (pretty sure i've seen it!). Must have been quite an event to walk along it....

The Abbot said...

A beautiful viaduct. It must have been a fantastic experience.
The Dales are so breathtaking that one can never tire of them.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

What an engineering feat for the time - and so beautiful. How nice that the "powers that be" thought of opening up for walking when trains are not running.

I think there is a lovely shot of it in the Beatrix Potter movie??

How lucky you are to live in a place steeped in history.

mrsnesbitt said...

Oh I know this landmark very well. We pass by on our way to Heysham when we catch the ferry to the Isle of Man. It signifies holiday time to me and I know Heysham is not far away! It is roughly half way between us and Heysham!

BT said...

What a fantastic walk Weaver, in spite of the rain. The nearest we had in Derbyshire was 'Monsal Head' viaduct, and I loved walking over that. Jim knew of it of course. Pity about the weather but I still enjoyed the photographs. I bet you enjoyed a cup of tea when you got back to the farm.