Ode to the Settle and Carlisle



There’s nothing TGV about the Settle and Carlisle.
No super-speed. No Shinkansen
No platform stretching half a mile.

It’s not a line for those impressed
by the bustle of great termini.
The glory’s in the durability –

the deep-sunk staples of its viaducts,
its ligature of bog and moss,
the fabric of the moor transfixed.


Stiff they stand the viaducts
braced hard against the Pennine gales

erect and gaunt and bedded down
to rock through treacheries of clay,

making straight the way to Settle,
bringing Settle to Carlisle.


Tough little stations, squat and obstinate;
slate roofs steep-pitched to see off snow and ice;
well-found stores and well-banked fires
to see them through the winter’s worst.

Unconquered outposts on the line’s
audacious drive through watershed,
austere, robust and resolute.
Garsdale, Dent and Ribblehead.

– David Morphet 2015