16 October 2011
We started our journey on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway from Dalegarth Station near Boot. The first challenge is in getting to the station which is towards the west of the Lake District. Coming from Keswick the route is quite reasonable, but if you are travelling to or from the central Lake District the most direct route is via Hardknott Pass. I have travelled over Hardknott Pass on several occasions - the view can be stunning in good weather, but the road is not for inexperienced drivers or the faint hearted. The route is mainly single track, includes 1:3 uphill and downhill climbs and hairpin bends - at some points hairpin bends during a steep hill with a long way to the nearest passing place. If you prefer "normal" roads then you should consider the longer but easier route via the A593 and A595 roads to Ravenglass. Alternatively you could go by train to the mainline station at Ravenglass for Eskdale.
After arriving at Dalegarth we parked in the car park and bought day tickets for the return journey to Ravenglass. Discounts are available for anyone that has previously purchased a full day ticket on the Ullswater Steamers or a discount voucher is provided if you would like to travel on the Ullswater Steamers after visiting Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (see: Ullswater Steamers / Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway discounts for more details).
Under 5's are free - which is good as many days out charge for toddlers or even younger.
The railway runs a mix of steam and diesel engines during the day. We went on a diesel train as shown in the photo below. There is a selection of carriages from open top to fully enclosed. We chose the fully enclosed for the outbound and partially enclosed for the return as the weather varied between wet and very wet rain during our visit. The seats are wide enough for two people per row grouped into forward and rear facing seats. An adult should be sat at each door as there is no locking mechanism and the doors can be easily opened during the journey.
The track is about 7 miles long and takes about 45 minutes. There are several stations between Dalegarth and Ravenglass, but the train stops at those by request only. If you wish to get off at any of the intermediate stations then you should tell the guard when you have your tickets checked.
The train ride goes through some stunning countryside, and there is a scratch card quiz for children with a prize at the end.
We alighted at Ravenglass and went to the new station cafe. The cafe appeared to be having some kind of problem with their deep fat fryers and had only limited alternatives so we didn't eat at the cafe. We instead went to the Ratty Arms which is a pub on the mainline station owned by the company that operates the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway. The Ratty Arms serves traditional pub food (including a children's menu) and also has a selection of real ales.
We visited the small museum at Ravenglass, but didn't venture much further due to the poor weather. In particular we would have liked to have visited the remains of the Roman bath house as we had visited Birdoswald Roman Fort the day before, but we were already very wet by then and were looking to catch the next train back.
Our son loves trains and really enjoyed the day out on the train at Ravenglass and Eskdale. It would have been nice to have visited on a sunny day and had more time to spend at Ravenglass, but we made the most of the day despite the weather.