|The Bentham Line|
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Carnforth railway station on a cold wet Saturday morning held little attraction. The only ‘brief encounter’ was the aproned lady from refreshments kissing her other half goodbye on the opposite platform.
We were going to Leeds to collect a new (to us) vehicle. My other half was irritatingly excited. For him the day marked the end of a long quest. For me millions of motor magazines were in the recycling bin.
The short train arrived on time and we settled into an empty carriage. I had intended to doze off or read my book but as the journey progressed I underwent what I can only describe as some kind of railway conversion.
Running since 1850, the Bentham Line is now a voluntarily supported community rail link between the city of Leeds and the seaside resort of Morecambe, via the inspiring scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. If you get the chance, go… even for a few stops, just do it! Now! Don’t wait for a fine day; the rain cleared for us after Bentham. There’s Ingleborough in all its glory; the vivid greens of the fields are lit with daffodils and primroses. Rivers flow in all directions; the scattering lambs are hilarious as the train rushes by. Pink cherry blossom, immaculate stone built farms, rabbits, pheasants, cattle - it's a revelation of northern rural life.
Remote cream and red stations contrast with the larger, more industrial ones and, once past Keighley, the landscape is definitely more urban. Still there are cyclists along the canal and football practices in full swing. I kept expecting Michael Portillo to wander through hugging George Bradshaw’s guidebook to his chest. Why isn’t this line included in one of his Great British Railway Journeys? I demand to know the reason. This is Lancashire and Yorkshire at their best.
The train was full when we reached Leeds. I would recommend this to locals and visitors alike. Just a word of warning; take refreshments and wrap up warmly.
Thank you to Leeds, Lancaster & Morecambe Community Rail Partnership and all the volunteers who support this amazing service. You can follow @communityrailman on Twitter as well as visit the website www.communityraillancashire.co.uk.
Formed in 1989 the Lancaster & Skipton Rail User Group (LASRUG) supports the passengers on the most rural part of the Bentham Line. The group has gone from strength to strength, with a large loyal membership not only in the towns and villages along the line but across the country. LASRUG is a founding member of the Leeds-Lancaster-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership and a supporter of the Friends of Bentham Station.
Tickets for the Bentham line, which extends from Heysham Harbour to Leeds, can be purchased online via the LASRUG website at http://www.lasrug.btck.co.uk/, where you can also see the full timetable. The full return ticket from Heysham Port to Leeds costs £31. Intermediate journeys cost less.
Visit www.communityraillancashire.co.uk to arrange your day, have a walk or visit a market. Whatever you decide I am sure you will not be disappointed.