Settle to Carlisle by rail (and bus)


Name that Tune:  “Watching the people get lairy, It’s not very pretty I tell thee, Walking through town is quite scary, It’s not very sensible either” – I predict a Riot, Kaiser Chiefs 


Movie Quote of the Day:   “Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes. That shit’ll come back with you” – The Hangover 


So Friday afternoon, once work had finished and I had taken off my crowd control security hat and jacket (long story)…



I went home to greet the M-i-L who was up for the weekend to supervise the childerbeast while the Bman & tripped the light fandango in Carlisle.


Not a brilliant start to the Settle to Carlisle railway journey, which began at Leeds at 9:40am Saturday when the train broke down at Skipton and we all had to get off and wait for the next one.  Cue killing an hour in Morrisons café with a coffee and a sticky finger. 


It could have been worse – we could have been as sad as the couple we saw on the platform at Keighley swigging out of a 2litre bottle of cider at barely 10:15am. To be fair, at least it was Dry Blackthorn and not some Happy Shopper generic cider like Taurus or White Ace or whatever.  Posh lushes!


So an hour behind schedule we got on the next train with a lot of anxious looking railway enthusiasts getting into a bit of a tizz about whether or not they would have time to eat lunch in Carlisle before coming back the same day.


We passed the time googling whatever happened to Colonel Abrahams on Bman’s blackberry


I forget why…


Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum got on at Horton in Ribblesdale to try and sell us tea and crisps from a trolley and then Zelda from the Terrahawks sold me a £3 brochure on the history of the Settle to Carlisle railway.  Seriously… there’s all kinds in the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Railway Volunteer service.


You could almost smell the anticipation (at least I think that’s what it was) as we approached the Ribblehead viaduct.  I quite wanted a photo, but not enough to do as Bman suggested and hang out of the window in the doorway of the front carriage where he said I’d get the best view.  I wasn’t prepared to jostle for space at a 1m2 window with half a dozen anorak clad train spotting ramblers also trying to get the perfect picture of a bridge.


I amused myself instead by sending tainting texts to my friend who was in labour and had “given in to an epidural at 3cm’”. 


I replied something along the lines of:-


 “You big Southern puff – wait till you’’ve had 2 babies and you’ll be 3 fecking centimetres al the bloody time love!”


(Reasons it’s a good job I did not get approved for Midwifery training #1 )



So, we arrive at Carlisle at 13:30 and head to the hotel which is on a main street and opposite a derelict nightclub, which appears to be called ‘Moobs’ which has grass growing from the guttering and Christmas decorations left in the windows from circa 1989.




We dump baggage and go out for an explore of the environs.  Phrase of the day seems to be ‘stunningly dreadful’.


I drag Bman round the shops looking for shoes to wear to my sister’s wedding which isn’t until next May so he cannot understand the urgency.  Let loose in a new shopping environment I run amok and forget I have a man with me as I fondle fabrics and caress footwear and ask him if he thinks the colour is peacock green, teal or petrol blue.  His eyes glaze over and he begins to flag in House of Fraser and has to be revived in The Kings Head with a few libations.  He later, somewhat drunkenly, offers to buy me some new underwear but in La Senza he rushes round the store squeezing gel filled bras and loudly proclaiming them all to be “a great big con” and then balks at the price of a purple number that catches my eye and rapidly sobers up and asks if they sell underwear at B&M instead.


We leave empty handed. 


We note, with interest that in every store we have been in, music from the 1990’s has been playing.


We headed back to the hotel for a rest and to doze infront of Saturday night early evening TV before sprucing up to go out on the town.  The hotel is on a street which contains several wine bars, 2 clubs and a Walkabout.  We predict, correctly, that later on it will be carnage.


We had a romantic chips and curry sauce supper outside a chippy called ‘Home & Away’ opposite the Citadel (built by Henry VIII in anticipation of a backlash from the dissolution of the monastries – see, I was paying attention, it wasn’t all about a weekend booze up).


We stood out as oft-comers within minutes of hitting the first bar. Our tourist status exposed by the fact that we both had our coats on and I wasn’t wearing hotpants or a dress that was 3 sizes too small.  It also appeared to be 1992 in every single bar we went in – weird.  ‘Nomad’ – ‘I want to Give You Devotion’ was played at least twice in the same bar, I’m sure of it.


Here’s a text I sent to my sister (among other people)




 We only lasted until about midnight before I could take no more Vodka and Orange or hear any more Ce Ce Penistone without exploding, so it was Pizza-a-clock. 


Best overheard mobile phone conversation was this from a lone female in the pizza place:-


“I’m in f*c*ig Pizza Time right. Me batteries gonna go and If I come out there now and yous two are fighting again I’m f*cki*g going home yeah! What??  I told yous, I’m in f*cki*g Pizza Time & you better come and get me now you bastards!”




While we waited for our 9inch Al Funghi we stuck our heads outside to watch a ruckus that appeared to be going down outside our hotel – athletic youths in shirtsleeves running down the street yelling while their womenfolk squawked encouragement.




Back at the hotel Bman passed out so I got the lions share of the pizza and then laid there like a fat bloater letting my pizza digest as I watched MTV and listened to the sound of the streets outside.  I was grateful that ‘Moobs’ was closed because it was noisy enough as it was without a bar being open all hours directly opposite our room.


The clamour of the youth of Carlisle continued until around 5am so I slept sporadically, interrupted now and then by people running up and down the corridor and knocking on the door and running away.  Awesome.


Breakfast at Wetherspoons the next day was, to say the least, underwhelmingly bland but at least filled a gap.


Train home ay 2pm was in fact not a train at all, but a bus, which kind of defeated the object of the whole Settle to Carlisle railway experience and was the longest that Bman and I have sat next to one another and had a conversation for about 10 years. 


We arrived in Skipton at 6:15pm.  Yup, that’s right, do the maths – 4 hours and 15 minutes on the bus and still only as far as Skipton!  FFS!


On the plus side from the road we got to see the Ribblehead Viaduct without having to hang out of a train window like a dweeb or get off at Ribblehead, take a picture and then wait 2 hours for the next train.


Also, I was glad we had called it a night when we did as I doubt I would have been able to stomach a 4 hour bumpy country road bus journey if I had been feeling rough.  The chunderbus is coming!


We got home at 7:30pm – 5½ hours after we left Carlisle.


I did enjoy the weekend though.  







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