Ribblehead Viaduct

Location type


Name and dates

Ribblehead Viaduct (1875-)

Opened on the Settle and Carlisle Line (Midland Railway).


This was built as a double track 24 arch viaduct. It is 400 yds long and has a maximum height of 104 ft. It crosses Batty Moss and is also known as the Batty Moss Viaduct. Engineer John Sydney Crossley.

It took four years, 1870-1874, to build the viaduct. Hints of the navvy settlements used during its construction remain. The line opened to goods in 1875 and passengers in 1876.

Due to low passenger numbers, negligible goods traffic, the deteriorating condition of the viaduct (cracks were forming) and expected maintenance costs British Rail attempted to close the Settle and Carlisle Line (Midland Railway) in 1984. Repairs were estimated at £12M. In response to this the Friends of Settle-Carlisle Line was formed. Independent assessments, paid for by the FoSCL, found the estimated repair costs to be too high.

The line over the viaduct was singled in 1985 and a speed restriction imposed.

A further proposal to close the line came in 1988. Part of the line would be retained as a goods only line from Settle Junction to quarries by Horton-in-Ribblesdale. A further independent review, requested by then Transport Minister Michael Portillo, also found the costs to be overestimated. British Rail, after making trial repairs, revised the costs to £3M.

Repairs were made between 1989 and 1992. The viaduct remains in use as a single track line.

The FoSCL remain actively involved in promoting the line and facilities available.




Listing: Grade II


A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The Lake Counties v. 14 (Regional Railway History)

An Illustrated History of Carlisle's Railways

Carlisle (Rail Centres)
Line by Line - the Settle & Carlisle
Midlands & North West (Railway Track Diagrams)

On Either Side - the Settle-Carlisle Line: A guide for rail travellers on the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line: 4

The Leeds, Settle & Carlisle Railway: The Midland Route to Scotland

The Line That Refused to Die

The Settle and Carlisle Line: A Nostalgic Trip Along the Whole Route from Hellifield to Carlisle (British Railways Past and Present Companion)