Deep in the dales of the West Riding Fells lies Scarsbeck, a remote village peopled by a close-knit community of colourful characters: Ellie Birkett, steadfastly resisting her mother’s attempts to marry her off; Vicar Hardy, wrestling with the temptations of the flesh; Ezra Bulstrode, village headmaster, with an unhealthy dedication to the education of his young students; and enigmatic woman Beth Wildman, who believes she can foresee the future. Surrounded by wild moorland and the majestic Yorkshire peaks, time seems to stand still in this magical corner of the world.
But change is on its way. The dales echo with fearsome noise; construction scars the hillside: the railway is coming – right through Scarsbeck village. And with the arrival of a huge workforce charged with building the railway, the peaceful idyll is shattered for ever.