THE SANDALE TRANSMITTER is the main carrier of BBC National FM radio across Cumbria and South-West Scotland and formally the main BBC 405-line television transmitter for the same area.

It is sited within a large cluster of remote villages, approximately fifteen miles south-west of Carlisle and two miles south-west of the region's main UHF transmitter at Caldbeck.

The service area of both FM radio and the former 405-line television transmissions extends roughly from Lake Windermere in the south to Dumfries and Galloway in the north, taking in the northern half of the Lake District National Park, Carlisle and the Solway Firth along the way.


The Sandale mast is a square-cross section lattice stayed structure, typical of those present on sites that were originally built as medium-power installations for the BBC 405-line transmitter network.  It stands at a height of 153 metres (502-ft) and is held in place by three inner and three outer stay attachment blocks, with each of them securing two of the total twelve stay lines.


Due to an anomaly in the regional television structure, Sandale did until Digital Switchover transmit analogue versions of both BBC1 Scotland and BBC2 Scotland as alternatives to the analogue BBC1 North-East & Cumbria and BBC2 England services provided from Caldbeck.

The transmission aerials for these services were mounted at the top of the Sandale mast on a north and north-westerly face, meaning they could be received anywhere in these directions from the transmission site, including Carlisle, but they were intended for viewers within the Dumfries & Galloway part of the Caldbeck service area.

Excluding the transmitter network for Channel 5, this was the only UK example of high-power UHF transmission from a site adjacent to a UHF main station. 

This 'dual-service' arrangement from Sandale dated back to 1965, having first been provided for BBC1 under 405-line VHF. (See Sandale TimeLine below for further details).

The reason for the anomoly is principally the non-existence of a BBC 'Border' region equivalent to that applicable to ITV, Sandale having been considered by the BBC as an extension to their north of England region when first opened as a 405-line transmitter in 1956 and this association continuing through to the main present day BBC UHF service from Caldbeck.


Digital versions of BBC1/BBC2 Scotland were already provided from Caldbeck under the pre-DSO Freeview multiplexes and now continue within the post-DSO Public Service Broadcast (PSB) multiplexes that Caldbeck has carried since completion of Digital Switchover at that site in July 2009.

Sandale therefore ceased television transmission upon completion of the switchover process.    

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Sandale TimeLine

8 November 1956

Sandale commences transmission of BBC Television on 405-line VHF from provisional station and temporary 100ft (30m) mast, broadcasting on VHF Channel 4.  The station is the second of two medium-power installations built by the BBC to augment their existing 405-line television coverage from Holme Moss across Northern England.

Serving both parts of Cumbria and South-West Scotland, Sandale is attached to the BBC North of England region with vision feed from Pontop Pike, the first of the two medium-power stations, via a Post Office microwave link station at Haltwhistle.  Sound links are available from both Pontop Pike and Holme Moss.

Until completion of the permanent station, the provisional service area includes Carlisle, Cockermouth, Penrith, Wigton and Workington.


9 December 1957

Permanent station and 500-ft (153 metre) mast come into service at Sandale, with power increased as scheduled to a maximum of 30 kilowatts vision e.r.p.  The increased transmission range includes Dumfries and Galloway and north-eastern parts of the Isle of Man.

Sound feed is now provided from Kirk O'Shotts pending the completion of a permanent sound circuit by the Post Office.


1 September 1961

Independent Television (ITV) commences broadcasting in Cumbria/South-West Scotland from the Independent Television Authority (ITA) station at nearby Caldbeck.

ITV coverage from Caldbeck and the subsequent station at Selkirk is based on a regional franchise for the whole of the Scottish Borders (Border Television).  With Sandale providing BBC North coverage to the same area covered by Caldbeck, this creates a  non-correlation between BBC and ITV regional coverage across Cumbria and South-West Scotland.


27 September 1965

Sandale commences transmission of BBC1 Scotland in addition to the existing BBC1 North service, the corporation utilising their newly-granted access to VHF Band III.  Transmissions are on Channel 6 at a maximum Effective Radiated Power (e.r.p) of 70 kilowatts, more than twice that of the North service on Channel 4.

The new service is added in recognition of the need to provide BBC1 Scotland to viewers in the Dumfries & Galloway area and to the Scottish Borders as a whole in conjunction with coverage provided already from Ashkirk (post-June 1963) and Kirk O'Shotts.


16 August 1971

Start of BBC2 service in Cumbria and South-West Scotland.  The transmitter is located at Caldbeck, the designated UHF main station for the area.


1 June 1979

BBC1 Scotland service from Sandale is extended to UHF-Colour from the new Channel 22 transmitter.  The Effective Radiated Power is 500 kilowatts, the same as transmissions from Caldbeck.


2/3 January 1985

Sandale ceases transmission on VHF Channel 4 (BBC North) and VHF Channel 6 (BBC Scotland) as part of the nationwide shutdown of all remaining 405-line television transmitters.



BBC2 Scotland service commences from Sandale.  Service is however limited by the use of Channel 67 (out of bandwith with Caldbeck and Sandale BBC1 Scotland) and an Effective Radiated Power of 126 kilowatts.


22 July 2009

Sandale ceases UHF television transmission upon Digital Switchover - all services now transmitted from Caldbeck.











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Newlands Farm, Sandale, Nr Ireby, Cumbria

Grid Reference:



Arqiva (Legacy: BBC/Crown Castle/NGW)

Ground Height:


BBC Region:

No service - transmitted from Caldbeck

Mast Height:


ITV Region:

No service - transmitted from Caldbeck

Aerial Height: (*)



UHF Tx Number:


(*) Average UHF aerial height above sea level (a.o.d) - now ceased transmission   


Digital Television 




Analogue Radio (FM)










No Service (all transmissions from Caldbeck 





BBC Radio 1:







BBC Radio 2:







BBC Radio 3:







BBC Radio 4:



Digital Radio 

BBC Radio Scotland (Dumfries Opt-Out):







BBC Radio Cumbria:



BBC National (Block 12B)



Classic FM:








(Shutdown 22 July 2009)

Analogue Television 























: 22 / H / 500kW (all transmissions post-DSO from Caldbeck)  


: 67 / H / 126kW (all transmissions post-DSO from Caldbeck)     









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