ravenglass-railway.co.uk/ Many regard the seven-mile line as the most beautiful train journey in England. One thing is for certain, for those who visit the Lake District and never venture beyond Windermere and Bowness they are certainly missing something special. Our part of the Western Lake District is a quieter, calmer place, an area of outstanding natural beauty, pretty villages and home to England's highest mountains.
Most visitors start their journey at Ravenglass, often calling in the Turntable café to enjoy the best in home-baking. The trains travel from Ravenglass across tidal Barrow Marsh, home to many birds, including oyster catchers and ringed plovers. The first intermediate station at Muncaster Mill is a request stop. Passing the old water-mill, now a private residence, the train wends its way into Miterdale, still 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.
Probably the most spectacular point of all in Miterdale is Rock Point, a place where the line swings around a rugged promontory high above the river and affording good views of the Scafell range, particularly in winter. The train passes over Walk Mill summit and the line heads straight as an arrow before reaching Irton Road, the main passing place on the line. Look out for Saddleback pigs foraging on the adjacent land!
Irton Road station, the only original building on the line, serves the western end of Eskdale Green village. 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. After passing through Eskdale Green Station the engines climb the steepest section of the line known as Hollinghow Bank.
The scene changes once more, as the lone 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.
A further request stop at Fisherground, mainly used by holidaymakers staying at the nearby campsite, follows, before the line arrives at Gilbert's cutting, undoubtedly one of the most photographic points on the line. The railway runs on a ledge above the valley road, passing the old 250' quarry face at Beckfoot and a final request stop.
The last section of the line takes the form of a further steep climb through Beckfoot Wood, before levelling out and curving round to the new station and visitor centre at Dalegarth, which nestles at the foot of England's highest mountains.