13 September 2011

Fame-ish at last

A bit windblown at the end of our walk along the Dales Way in yesterday's gales. We were recording "Ramblings" for Radio 4, with Colin and Fleur Speakman, the lovely Clare Balding and yours truly.

It was great fun to do and once we forgot about the hairy microphone it was ok - just like having a walk with mates. Clare was really natural and chatted all the time about where we were going and what we could see. She caused a bit of a stir in a cafe in Burnsall as people recognised her from the telly.

I'm SOOO excited - we'll be on at the beginning of October

9 September 2011

Trains and trains and trains

A grand day out on the South Tynedale Railway

Sorry for the long silence - I've been riding the rails.

All good things come in threes and this last couple of weeks I've been to the opening of Kirkby Stephen East station; for a ride on the South Tynedale Narrow-Gauge Railway and up and down (and up and down and up and down...) between Settle and Carlisle with a clipboard asking passengers cheeky questions on behalf of Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line.

And what links all this together - apart from the trains that is - is volunteers. Passionate, dedicated, some might say obsessive people who spend years of their lives putting back what previous governments destroyed - or in the case of the Settle-Carlisle line, came very close to destroying.

The Settle-Carlisle railway has always been part of my life. When I was a little girl the line ran through our farm. As tiny children we thought that the steam that came from the blow-holes in Blea Moor tunnel was dragon's breath and ran screaming every time we heard a train whistle. When we got older woe betide anyone who was late home for dinner - when that 12.10 went over Arten Gill viaduct every kid at the top of Dentdale knew to run home.
My dad feeding sheep above Arten Gill viaduct

Today the Settle-Carlisle line attracts thousands of passengers - commuters, tourists, walkers, mums taking their kids into Carlisle for school shoes - all these and more took part in my survey last week. It may be the most scenic line in Britain and one of the top ten railway journeys in the world but it's also an important part of the rail network, public transport for rural communities and an essential link between the urban centres of Yorkshire and the Western Dales. What other area of walking country is served so well by a mainline train. Get out there and get walking.