Head to Cumbria in the Northwest of England to see one of the country’s most spectacular narrow-gauge railways.
Delightful Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
This line started life as grim and industrial, ferrying iron ore from the mines of upper Eskdale to the coastal port of Ravenglass. Looking at it today, it’s difficult to imagine that harsh beginning, it’s now a delightful little railway complete with toytown coloured steam trains chugging up and down the valley of the River Esk.
West Cumbria enjoyed a boom during the late 19th century as the extraction of iron and other minerals from the Lakeland hills fed an apparently insatiable demand for construction materials. Evidence of the old workings can still be found in the fells but down in the valley all traces of the railway line’s commercial origins have vanished. Quarrying operations stopped here over 50 years ago.
Start at Ravenglass
Most visitors start their journey on the coast at Ravenglass and it’s here that you can visit a small museum covering the history of the railway line and also connect with the main West Cumbrian line. Take some time out during your day here and you’ll be amazed at what you learn.
A beautiful locomotive is going to pull you along the 11km route up the stunning Esk valley to the terminus at Dalegarth. Most trains are steam-hauled and the weather decides whether you travel in open-top or covered carriages so check the forecast before you leave home. The journey itself takes about 45 minutes and with your day ticket you can hop on and off the many stations along the route.
A favourite among the many walking options is the short trail from Dalegarth to the waterfall at Stanley Force. There are other more surprising sights too, such as the Japanese garden at Eskdale Green and the well preserved 16th Century flour mill just outside Boot.
Highlight of the Day
Admiring the inside of the pub, The Ratty Arms
Nearest train station : Ravenglass
Car parking : Yes
Website : www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk