Ravenglass Steam Railways

Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railways

Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railways

Picturesque Ravenglass Steam Railways

The beautiful age of steam railways comes alive as you pull into the car park at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway main station which is situated alongside the mainline station of Ravenglass, on the Barrow to Whitehaven line. You can literally smell the coal and steam from the engines as you approach the platform.

Steaming from the 1870’s through to the present day along 7 miles of track in the direction of England’s highest mountains, the Scafell range. There is no doubt in my mind that this hidden treasure is the Lakeland’s most dramatically picturesque railway line.

At Ravenglass steam railways the facilities are excellent and well looked after with the station café serving the best latte I have had for a while and if you like your home made cakes early in the morning before a walk, then washed down with caffeine this is heaven.

Sipping my coffee and talking to Trevor the General Manager and today’s signal operator it was astounding to learn that a full maintenance overhaul of just one of the steam railways engines can cost up to £40,000 and I think I will stick to servicing the car !!

Ravenglass Steam Railways History

The Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railways has survived against the odds since the 1870’s with the express purpose of exploiting existing local iron mines, although the line was opened to passenger traffic from 20th November 1876. Sadly the venture did not prosper and in early 1877 the Railway Company was declared bankrupt. Shifting to local traffic and granite haulage as the main income, more trouble lay ahead when in 1908 the railway was deemed unsafe to operate a passenger service.

The formation of a new company, The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Co with grandiose schemes came to no avail, until the final death knell came in late 1912, when the Nab Gill Mines were flooded out in 1913 the Railway closed.

With a chequered history, stability finally came in the early 1960’s with Colin Gilbert, a Midlands stockbroker, and Sir Wavell Wakefield MP, whose business interests included the tourist attraction, Ullswater Steamers had both been interested in the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for a long time, and were sufficiently encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Preservation Society to undertake to provide not only the necessary balance to secure the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in auction, but also as much again in working capital to safeguard the steam railways future. Since the railway has been under its present owners, a great deal has been done to ensure it holds a place as one of the top Lake District visitor attractions.

 Wildlife On The Ravenglass And Eskdale Steam Railways

Leaving the coastal estuary of Ravenglass you may easily spot a Blue Heron wading in the low water, or a Kingfisher, whilst not forgetting my favourite, the Oystercatcher. Travelling from the salt water flats of the estuary and Barrow Mash, brings you towards Miteside Halt and the eagle-eyed will be rewarded with Britain’s native Red Squirrel, Roe Deer and Buzzards. Buzzards with a wing span of 20” to 22” make this considerably larger than the Kestrel, although one of the most common birds of prey.

Ravenglass And Eskdale Steam Railways Walks

There are a multitude of great walks surrounding the railway and all the stations located along the 7 miles of track. Deservedly the most popular walk starts and finishes at Dalegarth station and takes you to Stanley Ghyll waterfall walk, one of Lakeland’s loveliest waterfalls.  If you are staying locally for a few days I would suggest buying Wainrights small booklet entitled “Walks From Ratty” which is available from all the station shops currently priced at £3 which includes 10 walks. The 1o walks are simple rambles and can easily be completed between Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railways times.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this Ravenglass Steam Railways please visit Ravenglass Steam Railways on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

Enjoy your day out at Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railways.