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Ribblehead Viaduct: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting

Ribblehead Viaduct: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting

The Ribblehead Viaduct is one of the most breathtaking viaducts in the UK. Located in Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the viaduct has become a popular attraction to visit. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Ribblehead Viaduct.

Ribblehead Viaduct History

The Ribblehead Viaduct (AKA the Batty Moss Viaduct) is a beautiful section of the Settle-Carlisle railway that crosses Batty Moss – an area of moorlands in Ribblehead. The Grade II listed structure was built between 1869 and 1874 by a workforce of around 2,300 men who were contracted by Midland Railway.

At the time, John Sydney Crossley was the chief engineer of Midland Railway. He was responsible for the design and overall construction of the railway line, including all of its viaducts and tunnels.

Interestingly, the men who built the viaduct, and their families, often lived in shanty towns on neighbouring land. These temporary dwellings were called Batty Wife Hole, Sebastopol and Belgravia. Collectively, the shanty town was known as Batty Green or more commonly, the Ribblehead navvy camp.

Sadly, many of the men passed away during the construction of the viaduct. This was mainly due to work-related fatalities. The work-related mortality rate, for this type of project during this time in history, wasn’t too out of the ordinary. Additionally, the deaths of the men and their families were also caused by the spread of disease in the shanty towns. Apparently, drunken brawls between the workers were also a contributor to the death toll!

Certainly, the viaduct possesses a fascinating history. You’ll even see remnants of the shanty towns around the viaduct. But, admittedly, most people visiting today are simply interested in seeing the aesthetically astonishing viaduct. Indeed, the viaduct remains one of the most iconic examples of Victorian engineering and perseverance.

So, exactly where is the viaduct located?

Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside

Where Is the Ribblehead Viaduct?

The Ribblehead Viaduct is positioned across Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley, specifically at Ribblehead. In reality, Ribblehead is both a tiny village with a small community as well as an area of moorland at the head of the River Ribble. Ribblehead is located in a dale (upper valley) called Ribblesdale.

You’ll find the viaduct in the southwest part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire in the northwest of England. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map.

A screenshot of a map showing the location of the Ribblehead Viaduct

How to Visit the Ribblehead Viaduct in Yorkshire

Visiting Ribblehead Viaduct is very easy and straightforward. You can simply visit the viaduct as a standalone activity. Otherwise, you can explore the viaduct as part of a walk. Let’s look at all of these options below.

A sunrise at Ribblehead Viaduct

Where to View the Ribblehead Viaduct

The easiest and most popular option for visiting the viaduct is to simply walk there from the roadside parking in Ribblehead (details about parking here). Basically, from the roadside parking, you’ll follow a flat and winding path to the viaduct. Certainly, you don’t have to walk too far or put in much effort to reach this famous Victorian attraction.

There isn’t a viewpoint or lookout as such for the Ribblehead Viaduct. If anything, the best views of the viaduct are simply found along the walking trail that leads underneath the railway from the roadside. Also, by walking on trails surrounding the viaduct (see details about the Ribblehead Viaduct Walk and the Whernside Walk), you’ll gain elevation and, in the process, enjoy different views of the viaduct.

Certainly, we recommend taking a walk in the area of the viaduct to get the most out of your visit.

Dan walks towards Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside

Ribblehead Viaduct Walk

Below, you’ll find trail specs and a link to a map for the Ribblehead Viaduct Walk.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4.5km (2.8 miles)
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 85m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Ribblehead Viaduct postcode​ – Carnforth LA6 3AT (Blea Moor Road)
  • Map: Wikiloc

The Ribblehead Viaduct Circular Walk is a great option for exploring the railway line. Along this short loop walk, you’ll enjoy varying viewpoints of the magnificent viaduct.

Dan walks towards Ribblehead Viaduct during the Whernside Walk.

Whernside Walk

Below, you’ll find trail specs and a link to a map for the Whernside Walk.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 13.4km (8.3 miles)
  • Time: 4–5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 460m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Ribblehead Viaduct postcode​ – Carnforth LA6 3AT (Blea Moor Road)
  • Map: Wikiloc

If you’re interested in a longer walk that involves exploring Ribblehead Viaduct, we highly recommend the Whernside Walk. Personally, Beck and I did this walk and thoroughly enjoyed it. After exploring the viaduct, you’ll pass pretty waterfalls and tarns as you climb Whernside – the highest peak in Yorkshire! You’ll eventually return via the viaduct, enjoying unique views of the railway line throughout the walk.

Read more: Whernside Walk From Ribblehead Viaduct – The Ultimate Guide

Dan walks to Whernside after passing the Ribblehead Viaduct

Other Things to Do In Ribblehead

Most people visiting Ribbehead will do so to visit the impressive Ribblehead Viaduct. You’ll be pleased to know that there are other things to do in Ribblehead during your visit. Let’s have a look at your options below.

  • Ribblehead Coffee Shop and Visitor Centre: located at Ribblehead Station, you’ll find a gorgeous visitor centre and coffee shop. You’ll certainly want to head to the coffee shop for a hot drink if you visit the viaduct on a cold winter’s day. Otherwise, feel free to head to the visitor centre for more information about the area and its history.
  • The Station Inn: also known as the Ribblehead Viaduct pub, The Station Inn is the only pub in the village. So, if you’re keen on a pint, you’ll be wanting to stop in at The Station Inn.
  • Blea Moor Common: surrounding the viaduct, at Blea Moor Common, you’ll find fragile remains of the shanty towns and camps set up for the workers who built it. Keep an eye out for information boards at the viaduct.
  • Memorial Plaque: located near the viaduct, nearly underneath it, you’ll find a memorial plaque, honouring those who built it. The plaque also honours those who helped with the restoration works of the viaduct in 1991.
  • The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge: you could start the Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge from Ribblehead. Along the way, you’ll also summit Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough.
  • Catch a steam train: it’s possible to catch a steam train along the Settle to Carlisle Line. Click here for more information about this tourist train.

Read more: Ribblehead – 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead


Things to Do Near Ribblehead

There are also plenty of awesome things to do near Ribbehead in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ll talk about other worthwhile things to do in the area.

  • White Scar Cave: near Ribblehead, you’ll find White Scar Cave – a famous show cave in the Yorkshire Dales. Personally, we rate White Scar Cave as better than other show caves in the Dales such as Ingleborough Cave and Stump Cross Caverns!
  • Ingleton Waterfalls Trail: nearby in Ingleton, you’ll find a stunning collection of waterfalls known as Ingleton Falls.
  • Visit Ingleton: other than doing the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, Ingleton is also a lovely village to visit.
  • Visit Clapham: likewise, Clapham is another nearby pretty village to explore. In fact, Clapham is a popular base for exploring nearby natural wonders such as Ingleborough, Gaping Gill and Ingleborough Cave.
  • Norber Erratics: starting in nearby Austwick, you can explore hundreds of glacial boulders on the southern slope of Ingleborough.
Dan at White Scar Cave
White Scar Cave

Ribblehead Viaduct and Harry Potter

Somehow, over the years, Ribblehead Viaduct has been incorrectly associated with Harry Potter. Certainly, some bloggers, have tried to generate interest and clickbait by linking the two in their content. But, there is, in fact, no association between the viaduct and Harry Potter.

Was Harry Potter Filmed at Ribblehead Viaduct?

Just to be clear, the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales​​​​​​​ was not used as a filming location in Harry Potter.

Where Is the Harry Potter Train Bridge?

The Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland was used as a filming location in Harry Potter.

Read more: Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge) – 13 Things to Know

Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland
Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Viaduct)

A Harry Potter Filming Location in Yorkshire – Malham Cove

If you want to check out a Harry Potter filming location in the Yorkshire Dales, then head to Malham Cove. The limestone pavement, atop Malham Cove, was indeed a filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released in 2010. By doing the Malham Cove Walk, you can explore this Harry Potter filming location as well as the stunning Gordale Scar and Janets Foss.

Read more: Malham Cove – Everything You Need to Know About Visting

Beck stands on the Malham Cove limestone pavement
Malham Cove limestone pavement

How to Get to ​​​​​​​Ribblehead Viaduct

To visit the viaduct, you’ll need to get to Ribblehead. The quickest and easiest way to get to Ribblehead is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Of course, it’s possible to get to Ribblehead by using public transport. Simply, catch a train to Ribblehead Station. From Leeds, you can get the Northern Line train heading to Carlisle. Many people also get the train from Settle to Ribblehead. From the station, it’s a short walk to get to the viaduct.

We recommend using Trainline to help plan your train.

Booking Trains


Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.

Where to Park For Ribblehead Viaduct

If you’re driving to Ribbehead, you’ll want to know about ​​​​​​​Ribblehead Viaduct parking. Basically, there’s ample roadside parking here on Blea Moor Road. Literally, this parking area is located opposite the viaduct. In fact, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the viaduct from the roadside parking.

Where to Stay

Given Ribblehead is a tiny village, there isn’t much in the way of accommodation. The most well-known accommodation option in Ribblehead is the famous Station Inn. Otherwise, there are some lesser-known B&Bs such as the Gauber Bunk Barn and Den and the Ashes Farm Bed & Breakfast Holiday Cottages.

If you’re struggling for accommodation in Ribblehead, we recommend staying in the nearby village of Ingleton. Basically, if you’re driving north to reach Ribblehead, you’ll likely pass through this gorgeous village. Because Ingleton is a much bigger village, there are way more accommodation options.

Below, we’ll talk about the best budget, mid-range and luxury hotels and other accommodation options in Ingleton.

Budget – Ingleton Hostel

Inside Ingleton Hostel

The best budget option in Ingleton is Ingleton Hostel, which is conveniently located near the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail.

Mid-range – Craven Heifer Ingleton

Inside Ingleton Hostel

This beautiful country inn is one of the most affordable private room accommodation options in Ingleton. Additionally, Craven Heifer Ingleton is one of the most highly-rated options in the village.

Mid-range – The Wheatsheaf Inn

Inside The Wheatsheaf Inn

You’ll want to stay at The Wheatsheaf Inn if you want to stay at the most popular accommodation option in Ingleton. Indeed, this B&B is an excellent place to stay.

Luxury – The Marton Arms

Inside The Marton Arms

The rustic-style Marton Arms is a brilliant country inn to stay at. It’s located just outside of the town of Ingleton. So, it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re after something a little more quiet and removed. You’re also just a stone’s throw away from the impressive Yordas Cave.



Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Ribblehead Viaduct.

Dan walks near Ribblehead Viaduct on his way to Whernside

When Was Ribblehead Viaduct Built?

It was built between 1869 and 1874.

Why Was the Ribblehead Viaduct Built?

It was built to help facilitate transport between Yorkshire and Cumbria, as, the challenging terrain between these places made travel difficult.

Who Built Ribblehead Viaduct?

The roughly 2,300 men, contracted by Midland Railway, built the viaduct.

What Is Ribblehead Viaduct Famous For?

The viaduct is famous for being the most aesthetically outstanding structure of the Settle to Carlisle railway.

​​​​​​​How Long Is Ribblehead Viaduct?

It’s 400 metres long. It’s not the longest viaduct in the UK – this honour goes to the Welland Viaduct in Northamptonshire, which is 1,166 metres long.

How High Is Ribblehead Viaduct?

It’s about 50 metres high.

How Many People Died Building the Ribblehead Viaduct?

About 100 men died during the construction of the viaduct. Also, the worker’s wives and even children lost their lives during the project. This was often because of the outbreak of diseases, such as smallpox, that would spread through the shanty towns set up for the project. So, the viaduct may have cost closer to 200 lives!

Can You Walk Across Ribblehead Viaduct?

No, you can’t walk across it, but you can walk underneath it.

Can You Drive Under the Ribblehead Viaduct?

Given the Ribblehead Viaduct location is away from roads, it isn’t possible to drive underneath it.

What Train Goes Over Ribblehead Viaduct?

Trains between Settle and Carlisle run over the viaduct.

Is Ribblehead Viaduct Worth Visiting?

Yes, Beck and I really enjoyed visiting the viaduct. We visited during sunrise, which made the visit quite memorable. We then completed the awesome Whernside Walk, which we highly recommend.

Other Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales

Bonus Tips

  • Another beautiful viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales: visit Smardale Gill Viaduct if you want to see another spectacular viaduct in this national park.
  • Ribblehead Viaduct train times: many train enthusiasts head to the viaduct to photograph the passing of famous steam trains such as the Flying Scotsman. Click here for the latest information about timetables.
  • There are many brilliant national parks to explore in the northwest of England: there’s much natural beauty to see and experience in England. Make sure to check out the North York Moors, ​​​​​​​Lake District (coming soon) and Peak District national parks.

Read our guides about Aysgarth Falls, Brimham Rocks and How Stean Gorge. Or, feel free to read our massive Best Yorkshire Dales Walks and Waterfalls guides.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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