The Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway (or La’al Ratty) is the Lake District’s oldest, longest miniature steam railway and undoubtably one of the most scenic railway journeys in Britain. If you are staying at one of our cottages in the Lake District, (especially in Eskdale and Wasdale), this is an unmissable day out for all the family.
The La’al Ratty runs for seven miles from the Dalegarth Visitor Centre at Boot in the heart of Eskdale out to the delightful coastal village of Ravenglass, passing through two glorious valleys at the feet of England’s highest mountains.
You can start your journey either inland at Dalegarth or out at Ravenglass on the coast. If you are coming from one of our holiday cottages in the Wasdale, Ravenglass or Gosforth areas (or even further afield) then taking the train from Ravenglass is a great way to travel up into Eskdale.
If you are staying at one of our Lake District cottages in Eskdale, then it’s a brilliant day trip to take the train out to the coast from one of the several stations in the valley, take a stroll along the beach and have fish and chips and a drink at the Ratty Arms and then take the train back up into the valley later in the day.
If you are taking the La’al Ratty from Eskdale out to the coast, then you can board the train at any of the stations along the line, but the main starting and stopping point is at Dalegarth Visitor Centre in Boot. Here there is a play area for the children and you can watch the trains turning on the spinning wheel between each journey, have a meal or grab a snack and an ice cream.
The trip takes in the very best of this stunning part of the Lake District. Dalegarth Station is in a stunning location, flanked on all sides by the great peaks of the Lake District, with Scafell to the north and Stanley Ghyll and Birker Force to the south. From here, you travel through the open valley until you enter Beckfoot wood. After you leave the wood, the railway runs on a ledge above the valley road for a while until coming to Gilbert's cutting, undoubtedly one of the most photographic points on the line.
Here the scene changes, as the line hugs the northern side of valley, providing a break between the ruggedness of the bracken clad hillside and the softer, farmland below. The local Herdwick sheep abound, deer are frequently seen in the woods and buzzards circle in the sky.
Before coming into Eskdale Green Station, you descend the steepest section of the line known as Hollinghow Bank and then from here, the line falls some 20 feet to the valley of the River Esk and the skyline is dominated from now by craggy Harter Fell which stands some 2160 feet above sea level.
Miterdale is a haven for red squirrels and far away from roads, cars and other signs of modern life. Views of craggy Muncaster Fell dominate, although all should look out for our unique boat-type shelter at Miteside halt. Next is Rock point, probably the most spectacular point of all, where the line swings around a rugged promontory high above the river affording great views of the Scafell range, particularly in winter.
At the end of your journey, you come into Ravenglass across tidal Barrow Marsh, home to many birds, including oyster catchers and ringed plovers. At Ravenglass, you can recover at Jan’s café and enjoy the home baking or you can pop to the Ratty Arms next door to the station and have enjoy a pint of local ale.
There are lots of different options that you can include with a day on the ‘Ratty’:
Take a walk up to Muncaster Castle from Ravenglass: There are two routes from the train station either via the main road or via the Eskdale Cycle Trail through the Decoy Wood. This will take you past the Roman Bath House and through delightful scenery.
It is also a fabulous walk out to Ravenglass along Muncaster Fell from our cottages in Eskdale Green – you could leave your car at the Ratty station in Eskdale Green and then hike out to Ravenglass and have a leisurely trip back on the train.
There is also a children’s play area and a café at Dalegarth, which serves everything from hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes made on the premises, to full meals made to order. The café is open whenever trains are running...
It is worth checking to see if your stay at one of our cottages in the Lake District coincides with a special event being held on the ‘Ratty’. The Santa special, The Ghostly Hallowe’en rides and the Thomas the Tank Engine and Postman Pat themed days are all great for adults and children alike (prebooking is recommended for these events).