Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
Tel:- 01229 717 171
- 7 mile long 15 inch gauge Steam passenger railway
- 40 minute journey from Ravenglass to Dalegarth
- Secure Childrens play areas at both Ravenglass and Dalegarth
- Cafe and toilet facilities at both Ravenglass and Dalegarth
- Free Railway museum at Ravenglass
- Heritage steam engines include 'River Irt' built in 1893 and the oldest working 15 inch gauge steam engine in the world.
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, known affectionately as La’al Ratty, is a 15in gauge heritage steam railway which runs between Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park, and Dalegarth, in the foothills of England's highest mountain. The 7 mile journey is a scenic delight, and takes 40 minutes. There are seven request stops on the line, enabling passengers to break their journey to enjoy a walk, or visit the village of Eskdale Green.
A mixture of covered and open top carriages enable passengers to get a great view of the spectacular scenery that the railway passes through, and, if they are lucky, local wildlife such as Buzzards, Red Squirrels and a range of wading birds.
Both termini have a range of facilities, including cafe, toilets, gift shop and secure children's playground. In addition there is a free museum devoted the history of the railway at Ravenglass.
Car parking at both Ravenglass and Dalegarth is pay and display.
Ravenglass Station post code CA18 1SW
Dalegarth station post code CA19 1TF
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway was built as a 3ft gauge railway. It opened in 1875 to transport iron ore from the village of Boot to Ravenglass where it could be transferred onto the Furness Railway's mainline to Barrow. The railway opened to passenger traffic a year later. The 3ft gauge line lasted until 1913. Economic problems due to diminishing traffic lead to a deterioration in both the track and rolling stock. It had become seriously unsafe and in need of investment, and with none on the horizon the railway was forced to close.
In 1915 miniature railway engineer and prolific model makers WJ Bassett-Lowke and R Proctor-Mitchell, acquired the line as a base for testing their 15 inch gauge locomotives. By 1916 they had laid new track as far as Irton Road, and by 1917 trains were running to Dalegarth. The final mile to Boot was abandoned, however, walkers beside the River Esk can still see one of the original railway bridges from the old 3 ft line.
The Keswick Granite Company commenced quarrying on the line near Beckfoot in the 1920s. The quarried stone was transported to Murthwaite, where it was crushed before being transported to Ravenglass and then on to the main line. The Keswick Granite Company took over the line outright in 1946, and quarrying continued until 1953. With the exception of the war years passenger traffic continued throughout until 1960, when the line closed once again.
The intention was to sell the whole railway by auction in September 1960. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society was formed by enthusiasts but they needed funds. Colin Gilbert, a midlands stockbroker, and Sir Wavell Wakefield, a local landowner, came to the rescue, providing the money to purchase the line and keep it open.
Since then, continued development has seen the railway go from strength to strength, and it is now one of the country's foremost heritage railways, attracting many thousands of visitors each year.