Ravenglass Area Guide
Ravenglass has a fascinating history. The only coastal village in the Lake District, it was an important base for the Romans, who occupied it for over 300 years. In the Middle Ages it was a busy port, taking in goods brought across the Irish Sea. King John signed a charter in 1208 to create a market and Ravenglass thrived.
However, in the 1800s the harbour began to silt up and smugglers took over much of the village trade. The market closed down and Ravenglass became a sleepy village, which is how it remains today, with a shingle beach and cobbled main street.
The Romans had a thousand soldiers in their fort, Glannaventa. Today, little remains of the fort except for the bath-house, one of the biggest remaining Roman buildings in England. The Roman road from Ravenglass went up to Hard Knott Fort in Upper Eskdale and over to a third fort at Ambleside.
The Romans are not the only link between Ravenglass and Eskdale. The miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway or “La’al Ratty,” was used in the 19th century to bring iron ore mined in Eskdale to Ravenglass for further distribution. The oldest narrow gauge line in England, it is now a tourist attraction, travelling through 7 miles of beautiful countryside to Dalegarth at the top of the Eskdale valley.
At the Ravenglass terminus there is a museum with an in-depth history of the railway, with memorabilia, models and photographs. Admission is free.
Ravenglass’s Millennium Garden, designed with the help of local school children, is down a small alley between two houses on the main street. A cobble mosaic represents local history – the sea, a castle, a Viking longboat and an anchor.
Bikes can be hired at Ravenglass station and there are two main cycle routes from the village. One is the Eskdale Cycle Trail, which runs almost parallel to the railway line, covering 10 miles from Ravenglass to Eskdale Green. You could cycle one way and return in comfort on the train, which is happy to take bikes.
The second is the Hadrian’s Wall cycle way, which is 174 miles long, going all the way to the east coast of England, South Shields in Tyne and Wear. You can either attempt the whole journey or part of it. The cycleway is well signposted with blue signs.
Ravenglass is ideally placed for discovering the rest of the Lake District. A mile away is Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Owl Centre, home to the Pennington family for over 800 years and with lots going on all year round, both for adults and children. The gardens are renowned for their stunning rhododendrons in the summer and in Winter the gardens are lit up on certain nights to create Darkest Muncaster. There is a plant centre at the castle with many specimens for sale.
The Ratty Arms used to be Ravenglass’s station and still has much memorabilia from that time. It is a comfortable and slightly different place to eat and drink! The Pennington Hotel has a good restaurant and bar.
Fifteen minutes drive away is Wasdale, home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, deepest lake, Wastwater, smallest church and biggest liar! Like Eskdale, also fifteen minutes drive, this beautiful valley is the starting point for hundreds of riverside, valley and mountain walks and climbs.
Useful Links for Ravenglass
- Ravenglass has the Ratty Arms, the Pennington Hotel and the Holly House Hotel.
- For gifts and crafts, visit the Old Butcher's Shop.
- Have a look at our Review of Outdoor Activities in the Lake District.
- Have a look at things to do Down on the Farm in Ravenglass and beyond.
- Visit our Review of the Lake District shows.
- Try kite flying at Haverigg nearby.
- Cumbrian Wildlife.
- Click here for Dog Friendly pubs in the Lake District.
- Churches in the Lake District.