There’s nothing like a brisk walk, fresh air, beautiful scenery and a proper pub to cheer you up when you feel down in the dumps. It had been one of those weeks and after a bit of moaning and wallowing I decided to get out and blast the blues away. Fortunately, we are blessed with an abundance of great pub walks in Yorkshire, so much so that it can be hard to choose between them, but one of my “quick fix” favourites is by the magnificent Ribblehead viaduct.
Not only are the views spectacular, there’s a wide path for the first section so you can’t get lost and you’re not continually looking down in an attempt to dodge boggy ground on Batty Moss. The walk can be as long or as short as you like. When you’ve had enough or can’t wait to get into the pub, you can turn round and retrace your steps. There’s also the option of a longer, circular hike.
You can park in the large lay-by on the B6255 Blea Moor Road or you can arrive by train on the Settle to Carlisle line. The beautifully restored station has a visitor centre that tells the history of the Settle-Carlisle railway and its viaduct. The story of this awe-inspiring feat of engineering was brought to life in the ITV drama series “Jericho”, inspired by the shanty towns set up in the 1870s to house the 2,000 engineers and labourers who created the structure. Over 100 were killed, which is a sombre thought, but wasn’t unusual at a time when health and safety rules were virtually non-existent. There is a memorial stone to those brave navvies and it feels right to take a moment to remember and thank them.
Across the road from the lay-by (the station is short stroll further up across from the Station Inn) there is a stony track that leads towards the viaduct. The structure is a quarter of a mile long and 104 feet high with 24 arches and has Whernside as its backdrop.
My power walk was short as the weather was cold and wet. I went up the stony path, keeping Ribblehead viaduct to my left, and climbed up and over the moor, following the well-trodden path to the tunnel and beyond to the little stream. Then I turned round and headed back the way I came, more than ready for a hot meal at the pub.
There is another, very pleasant five-mile circular walk that goes under the viaduct and crosses the edge of the Ingleborough nature reserve (though it also includes a half mile section of road). It is included in Colin Speakman’s excellent book “Walks around the Three Peaks” published by Dalesman and you can find it on the Dalesman website here http://www.dalesman.co.uk/walks/ribblehead-viaduct
Whichever way you go you end up at the Station Inn. It’s a proper pub. It’s not fancy – quite the opposite. This is not a contrived, faux country pub. Walkers, muddy boots and dogs are all welcome. The beer is excellent (it’s a free house), it’s warm and the service is lovely and friendly. How I wish it was my local.
There’s also a loo with the view – it’s the Gents and I am told it has an excellent vista.
The food is hearty and ranges from soup for those who want a snack to full Yorkshire pud with sausages, gravy and veg. It’s not Michelin star standard but who cares? It’s exactly what’s required after a walk and prices are reasonable. It certainly perked me up. The walk, fresh air, pub grub and a glass of real ale made everything seem so much better. It’s medicine for the soul.