Running over a distance of 7 miles (11.3 kilometers) between Ravenglass and Dalegarth stations in the valley of Eskdale, the La'al Ratty — as the locals call it in old Cumbrian dialect — is a fascinating minimum-gauge heritage railway train in the heart of Cumbria. The journey to Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park, takes roughly 40 minutes, a scenic ride if there ever was one; the train goes through the hills and across the estuary along the foot of the spectacular Scafell range, England’s highest mountains.
Vastly popular with tourists now, the train initially opened in 1875 to transport hematite iron ore from mines in the Boot vicinity and eventually starting carrying granite, good, produce and even passengers. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that local railway enthusiasts realized the full touristic potential of the railway line and started building locomotives to accommodate the rapidly growing numbers of visitors to the Lake District. Today, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway carries over 120,000 passengers each year.
The particularity of this railway line, outside its spectacular scenery, is its historical steam engines, some of which date back to the late 1800s.
The train calls at Ravenglass (where the headquarters and museum are located), Muncaster Hill, Miteside Halt, Murthwaite Halt, Irton Road, The Green, Fisherground, Beckfoot and Dalegarth for Boot. There are up to 16 trains daily during the high season, with service every 20 minutes or so between 8:30 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. Ravenglass is just 2.5 hours away from Liverpool, Manchester (via M6, A5090, A5092 and A595) and Newcastle (via A69, A5086 and A595). All-day return tickets cost £12.50 for adults, £6.25 for children and £34 for families (two adults, two children). Children under 5 ride for free.