The Ribblehead Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle Railway across Batty Moss in the valley of the River Ribble at Ribblehead, in the Yorkshire Dales. It is one of the most famous feats of Victorian engineering along the stunning Settle to Carlisle railway line and a well-known photo stop for many visitors. It spans 400 metres across, with its 24 massive stone arches reaching 32 metres above the moor.
Built by the Midland Railway, it is situated 14 miles east of Kirkby Lonsdale. The design of the Ribblehead Viaduct was produced by John Sydney Crossley, chief engineer of the Midland Railway. Crossley was responsible for the design and construction of all major structures along the Settle to Carlisle line and the viaduct was necessitated by the challenging terrain of the route. Work began on construction during 1869, which was undertaken by a large workforce, possibly up to 2,300 men. The majority of these workers lived onsite in settlements near the base of the Viaduct. Thesecamps contained schools, pubs, even libraries and were to all intents and purposes, actual villages. These settlements were the inspiration for the recent ITV Jericho television series.
The Settle & Carlisle line opened for rail services on 1 May 1876 and ran continuously until the 1980s when the line was under serious threat of clousre. Fortunately following substantial lobbying the route was retained. Over the years the Ribblehead Viaduct has been subject to ongoing repair and restoration efforts, during which the lines across it were relaid as a single track.
There are a number of laybys, a tea wagon and the popular Station Inn nearby for visitors. Perhaps the easiest way to reach the Viaduct is on the train as there is a station at Ribblehead itself.