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Local viaducts article

Viaducts, whether they cross the sea, land or river are an integral part of our industrial heritage and an enduring testament to British engineering vision and skill. Lancaster District has an interesting variety of viaducts that cross some of the most scenic landscapes in the country. Here Features Writer Rob Bullock looks at the most iconic.

All photos by Photo North

Having grown up in Settle, literally a stone’s throw from the Settle Carlisle railway line, I was lucky enough to walk under a viaduct every day on my way to primary school. Granted the Marshfield Viaduct might only be 88 yards long and have six arches, but it is an integral part of that historic railway line and part of my childhood memories. In our area we have a good assortment of viaducts and here are six of the best viaducts in and around Lancaster District. 

Ribblehead Viaduct 

The Ribblehead Viaduct crosses the desolate Batty Moss under the shadow of the Three Peaks, Ribblehead viaduct with its twenty-four massive stone arches which stand 104 feet (32 metres) above the moor sits in some of the most picturesque but bleak countryside in the country. It has been a significant visitor attraction for decades. Hundreds of railway builders called navvies lost their lives building the structure from a combination of accidents, fights, and smallpox outbreaks but these days it is a serene, isolated place to visit and have a look around. Once a year, you can also join a walking group and stroll across if you are brave enough.  

Cowgill Viaduct 

Nestled in the delightful countryside near the beautiful village of Dent in the former West Riding of Yorkshire Cowgill or Dent Head viaduct was built between 1869 and 1875 for the Midland Railway Company. Interestingly, the structure is made from massive blocks of Dent marble and actually crosses over the quarry that produced the stone.

Arnside Viaduct 

The Arnside Viaduct sits in the north-eastern corner of the Morecambe Bay and is low and long (505m) with an impressive fifty-one span structure that carries the Carnforth and Whitehaven line over the estuary of the River Kent immediately to the west of Arnside station. Originally constructed in 1856 as a single line viaduct, the structure was extended to twin-track in 1863 and has become an iconic local structure. 

All photos by Photo North

Ingleton Viaduct 

Dominating the picturesque village, the disused Ingleton viaduct crosses the twin rivers, Doe and Twiss. It is an impressive 800 feet long and 80 feet high and still dominates the village. Travelling through Ingleton, it’s hard to miss! The River Twiss from Kingsdale and River Doe from Chapel-le Dale combine to form the River Greta just past the viaduct. 

Lowgill Viaduct 

If you travel south down the M6 or on the West Coast Main Line over Shap and look to your left as you approach the Lune Gorge, you will see the disused Lowgill Viaduct. It is a splendid eleven-arched and listed structure which is built on a curve. The viaduct once carried the now closed line from Clapham and Ingleton, via Sedbergh, over a beck a short distance south of the long-gone Lowgill station.

Crook o Lune Viaduct 

The Crook O’Lune East viaduct, one of a pair of identical viaducts that cross the River Lune, sits between the village of Wennington and Lancaster on the closed ex-Midland Railway route. When the viaduct was closed to railway traffic, it was converted to a footpath. In 2012 it was given a 12-month programme of restoration that saw the bridge restored and once again usable for cyclists and walkers.

All photos by Photo North

A tour of these six impressive structures would provide a good day out in and around the Lancaster District, so when you’ve got a free day and a good pair of walking boots, why not visit them all! 

Read the Lancaster District Magazine HERE

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