La’al Ratty – Still going strong

Eskdale railwayIt’s an old favourite still going strong today – the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which wends its way through some of the best scenery in Lakeland. La’al Ratty as it was affectionately known in the old Cumbrian dialect served the local mining industry and was one of the first narrow-gauge railways to be built in England.

The line transported minerals and passengers between the village of Boot, which lies at the foot of England’s highest mountain range, and coastal Ravenglass. After mine and quarrying operations ceased, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Preservation Society was formed and the seven-mile line was saved for posterity in the 1960s. Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction with the famous fell-walker Alfred Wainwright among its many fans. Wainwright was particularly fond of Eskdale, describing it as: “. . . a valley where walkers really come into their own, a sanctuary of peace and solitude, a very special preserve for those who travel on foot.” He produced the guide ‘Walks from Ratty’ for the railway’s owners and it can still be obtained, containing 10 routes accessible from stops along the line.

Today, four steam locomotives haul both covered and open-top carriages on a journey of 40 minutes through lovely countryside, offering the opportunity to spot a wide range of wildlife. There are cafes at each end and also shops, children’s play areas and the museum to enjoy.

The railway is proud of its environmental credentials, holding the Green Tourism Silver Award and supporting the local community and wildlife projects. It encourages visitors to leave their cars behind, purchase a Ratty Rover ticket, and explore the area on foot or by cycle.

Dogs are carried for a small additional charge, wheelchairs and cycles must be pre-booked. For further ticket and timetable information, travel directions and details of special events visit the website www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk.