Settle-Carlisle Railway is a tourism gem
The line has been recognised by the World Heritage association as being the most picturesque railway in Great Britain, a national treasure, its nearest rivals being the Canadian Rockies and the Austrian Tirol.
The line has survived two closure plans, in the 1960s and quite recently saved with the help of railway buff Michael Portillo.
With respect to the city of Manchester and the Lancashire cotton towns which the line travels through, many fans of the line will agree the journey starts in the Ribble Valley village of Langho, from where passengers are greeted by green fields and stunning open countryside for the first time.
On entering Clitheroe, Pendle Hill emerges followed by the North Yorkshire National Park, the Three Peaks and the Grade I listed Ribblehead Viaduct.
Suddenly you find yourself in Wordsworth country with peaks, forests and glorious stations like Langwathby, and then the border city of Carlisle and its Citadel station.
At the end of the journey you are left with a sense of “wow... that was something else!”.
The line is used on a regular basis for steam excursions which have proved very popular and are all sold out very fast, attracting visitors from all over the globe.
On my journey I had a seed of thought planted in my imagination. In some ways this marvellous railway attraction is a sleeping tourism giant and could have huge benefits relating to the Ribble Valley tourism industry.
Why not start the journey from Clitheroe to Carlisle? Have a running commentary in each coach and use the town as a base for the tour. Just an idea, but I am sure many of you will agree the line does have excellent potential for creating jobs.
I have recently joined Ribble Valley Rail. There are 588 of us and if you would like to join then you can pick up a leaflet at Clitheroe railway station, You will be made very welcome.