Walking Lord Carlisle’s Railway: A Historical Circuit

by | Activities, Walks

We invite you to embark on a detailed walking tour of Lord Carlisle’s Railway. This circuit offers an immersive journey through history, nature, and the remnants of industrial heritage. The route forms a loop, allowing you to start and finish at the same point, making it convenient and accessible.

The junction of Lord Carlisle's Railway and the Haltwhistle to Alston branch line at Lambley station.

The junction of Lord Carlisle’s Railway and the Haltwhistle to Alston branch line at Lambley station.

History of Lord Carlisle’s Railway

Establishment and Early Years

Lord Carlisle’s Railway, also known as the Brampton Railway, was established in 1798 by the Earl of Carlisle. Initially constructed to transport coal from the Tindale and Brampton coalfields to Brampton, this railway is one of the earliest examples of industrial railways in Britain. It was designed to improve the efficiency of coal transportation, which was previously done by horse-drawn carts over rough terrain.

Expansion and Development

Over time, the railway network expanded to support both freight and passenger services. The route initially used wooden rails and horse-drawn wagons, but it was gradually upgraded to iron rails and steam locomotives as technology advanced. This transition significantly increased the capacity and speed of coal transportation, contributing to the industrial development of the region.

Significance in the Industrial Era

Lord Carlisle’s Railway played a crucial role in the industrial revolution in Northumberland and Cumbria. It facilitated the efficient movement of coal, which was essential for powering factories, homes, and other industrial activities. The railway not only supported the local economy but also provided a model for the development of other industrial railways in the UK.

Connection to the Alston Branch at Lambley

Lambley Viaduct and Alston Branch Line

The Alston Branch Line, also known as the Haltwhistle to Alston railway, was a standard gauge railway line in Northumberland and Cumbria. It was originally constructed to serve the lead mines in the Alston Moor area. The branch line was officially opened in 1852 and connected to the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway at Haltwhistle.

Integration with Lord Carlisle’s Railway

At Lambley, the Alston Branch Line intersected with Lord Carlisle’s Railway, creating an important junction for transportation and logistics. The Lambley Viaduct, an impressive structure built to carry the Alston Branch Line over the South Tyne River, became a key feature of this connection. This integration allowed for the seamless movement of goods and passengers between different regions, further enhancing the industrial and economic capabilities of the area.

Technological and Engineering Achievements

The construction of the Lambley Viaduct and the integration of the Alston Branch Line with Lord Carlisle’s Railway represented significant engineering achievements of the Victorian era. The viaduct, with its multiple arches and considerable height, showcased the advanced engineering techniques of the time and remains a landmark of historical and architectural significance.


With the decline of coal mining and changes in transportation technology, the use of Lord Carlisle’s Railway diminished in the 20th century. Passenger services ceased, and the freight operations were gradually phased out. The line closed completely in 1953, except for a short branch from Lambley Station, which continued to connect the last surviving colliery to the rail network, vis Haltwhistle.

The Circuit Walk

The trackbed of Lord Carlisle's Railway east of Halton-Lea-Gate

The trackbed of Lord Carlisle’s Railway east of Halton-Lea-Gate

Start Point: Brampton Old Church

Total Distance: Approximately 10 miles (16 km)

Estimated Time: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Route Highlights:

  1. Brampton Old Church: Begin your journey at this historic site, where you can explore the ancient church and its tranquil surroundings.
  2. Brampton Station: Head towards the former Brampton Station, now a point of historical interest. Here, you can see remnants of the old railway infrastructure and imagine the bustling activity of its heyday.
  3. Talkin Tarn: Follow the path to Talkin Tarn, a beautiful glacial lake surrounded by woodlands. This spot offers a perfect place for a break, with opportunities for bird watching and enjoying the scenic views.
  4. Tindale Fell: Continue to Tindale Fell, where you can observe the landscape that once supported the coal mining industry. The views from the fell are spectacular, providing a panoramic glimpse into the region’s industrial past.
  5. Lambley Viaduct: One of the highlights of the walk, Lambley Viaduct is an impressive structure showcasing Victorian engineering. Take some time to explore the viaduct and enjoy the views over the South Tyne Valley.
  6. Gelt Woods: Make your way through Gelt Woods, a serene woodland area with paths that follow the River Gelt. This section of the walk is particularly scenic, with lush greenery and the gentle sound of flowing water.
  7. Brampton Town: Return to Brampton town, where you can explore local shops, cafes, and historical buildings. This is a great place to end your walk, enjoying a meal or a coffee while reflecting on the day’s journey.

End Point: Brampton Old Church

Tips for Walkers

  • Footwear: Wear sturdy walking shoes as some sections may be uneven.
  • Weather: Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the conditions.
  • Supplies: Bring water, snacks, and a detailed map of the route.
  • Photography: Bring a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and historical landmarks.

Preservation Efforts for Lord Carlisle’s Railway

Disused Quarry at Clowgill, Nr Brampton, Cumbria

The disused quarry at Clowgill, near Brampton, was connected to Lord Carlisle’s Railway.

The preservation of Lord Carlisle’s Railway is ongoing, with efforts by local heritage groups to maintain and restore sections of the railway. The South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society has restored parts of the adjacent Alston Branch line, ensuring that this important piece of history is not forgotten.




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