Intake Bank, Carlisle-Settle, 1870s

Intake Bank, Carlisle-Settle, 1870s. The Carlisle-Settle line crosses this hard country at its easiest point, yet it was still the wildest job ever undertaken by bare-handed navvies and the last big job they undertook unhelped by massive steam machinery. The working problems were scale, the weather, geography, bad-luck geology, and the sheer number of ups followed by steep downs in the hills. Navvies called it the Long Drag. . . .

Even the Intake embankment at the very top of the Vale of Eden took a year to make. The Eden is only a few yards long here, trickling off the great convoluted slopes of Abbotside, dropping as a waterfall into a pool in a gorge, before turning north past the Intake embankment. For a year they tipped without moving the tiphead a centimetre forward. The muck sludged slowly down over itself like cold unsolidifying lava, an unlovely heap of clay, glistening and wet. — chapter 13.

Last modified 23 April 2006