Lake District Towns and Villages
Ravenglass in the Lake District National Park
Ravenglass is a small sleepy fishing village, isolated on the west coast, at the estuary of three rivers, the Esk, the Mite and the Irt, but still within the Lake District National Park. It consists of a row of plain 19th century cottages ending abruptly at a slipway down to the estuary. The Romans used the estuary as a harbour and built a fort here, of which nothing remains except for the remarkable ruins of a bath house, rising to a maximum of 12 feet.
Ravenglass is best known for being the home of the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, opened in 1875 and known locally as 'Laal Ratty'. It was originally used to transport iron ore, copper and granite from the Eskdale valley. The train has long been converted to tourist use and runs on a 15 inch guage track as far as Dalegarth station, through 7 miles of picturesque fields and forests making several stops en route. At Ravenglass station there is a small museum offering information on the history of the trains and the valley, a shop and a cafe. At Dalegarth there is also a cafe and a return train ride combined with a walk from one of the stations along the way makes for a pleasant day out.
A mile from Ravenglass and the first stop on the railway is Muncaster Mill, a working water powered corn mill with 19th century machinery in regular use. It was restored in the 1970's and is open to the public. A wide range of organic stoneground flour is produced here and for sale in the mill tea shop.
A path from the mill leads south to Muncaster Castle, built around a 13th century Pele Tower and home to the Pennington family since around that time. The house with it's many family treasures and remarkable gardens are open to the public. The grounds are also home to the World Owl Trust, where some 200 or so birds, from different parts of the world are kept. There are regular displays and lectures.
Ravenglass Nature Reserve has the largest breeding colony of Black headed gulls in Europe along with a variety of other gulls and waders.
There are dozens of very pleasant and scenic walks to be had from Ravenglass or from any of the stops on Ratty. From Eskdale Green you can access short walks into nearby Miterdale. Muncaster Fell offers some excellent views out to the Isle of Man. From Dalegarth station you can visit the impressive 60ft falls of Dalegarth Force, the pretty St Catherine's church or eskdale mill in the village of Boot, or one can just roam around the extensive and beautiful wooded grounds of Muncaster Castle. Information on possible walks is available from the stations on the railway.