Today’s guest picture was not taken by a guest but shows a guest elephant hawk moth caterpillar which was brought round by Isla, one of our neighbours. I have never seen one before.
First I would like to apologise for the absence of a post yesterday without warning. This came about because the promised Wi-Fi in our bed and breakfast accommodation was so feeble and intermittent as to be unusable. I pointed this out to the landlord and he he said that he knew. Ah well.
We had gone to Carlisle as usual on a Sunday afternoon for our choir practice but on this occasion, instead of going home, we drove another 50 miles south down the Cumbrian coast until we arrived at the old Roman port of Ravenglass just as the sun began to set.
Although a very quiet village now that the Romans have left, Ravenglass was still busy enough that we had to try three pubs before we found one with a vacant table for an evening meal. The fact that it had a spare table or two might have been related to price but we had a very good meal and the helping was so big that a single course sufficed and the bill was very reasonable.
Our B&B was excellent and after a very light breakfast, we went out for a short cycle ride to visit a Roman Bath house nearby.
It may not look much but apparently it is the tallest Roman ruin in Britain.
It has added lichen.
After we visited the bath house, we went down to the shore only to find that the sea had disappeared.
We cycled back past the bath house and arrived at Ravenglass Station where the main part of our adventure would start.
The world’s greatest older son, i.e our son Tony, had given us a token for our Christmas present which entitled us to a ride to Dalegarth and back to Ravenglass on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, a 15 inch gauge light railway, mostly steam operated.
As well as the train trip, we were given a breakfast before and a lunch at the top of the line and a bottle of wine to consume in our private coach en route.
Everything about this generous gift went well. The meals were good, the train journey delightful, the cycle ride into the hills at the top of the line outstanding and the weather most co-operative throughout, sunny but not too hot.
As a result of all this I took far too many photos and have put double my usual ration in this post. Those readers with better things to do should scroll straight down to the bottom of the post, add a comment on the lines of, “What a pleasure it must be to you to have such a generous and thoughtful son”, click the like button and pass on, taking the trains, the scenery and our enjoyment on trust.
Hardier souls should read on:
Ravenglass station is a delight.
Even the benches are classy.
We were shown to our private coach.
With a bottle of fizzy and a bowl of strawberries to pass the time on the trip.
The station has plenty for the railway enthusiast to admire.
The oldest 15 inch gauge locomotive and a much more modern diesel.
Our train getting ready to set out.
After a second light breakfast of the day and once we were on board and our bikes safely in the bike coach, the train set off up the line.
It starts beside a tidal river. You can see the Lake District hills in the background.
We were soon climbing steadily through woods
We stopped to let a down train pass on one of the loops.
And we arrived at Dalegarth Station, the head of the line. The Ravenglass and Eskdale railway is only seven miles long, but it is a wonderfully varied journey and seems much longer thanks to the modest speed of the locomotives.
Once at Dalegath, we got the bikes out and headed up Eskdale.
Note:Those readers who actually read the words and don’t just skip through the pictures will know that Mrs Tootlepedal and I live in Eskdale but this was a different Eskdale. As the word Esk means river and thus the River Esk means the River River, it is not surprising to find that there are several River Esks scattered around Great Britain.
Eskdale in the mid September sunshine was glorious.
The road was quiet and gently undulating.
The views on every side were rewarding.
We were in cycling heaven.
But it didn’t last. The quiet road along the river takes a turn to the right, leaves the river and strikes up a hill. And what a hill it is.
Yes, that sign really does say 1 in 3. We had a go but it was too much for us. I was on the slow bike with only seven gears and Mrs Tootlepedal kept finding her front wheel lifting off the road, a very alarming experience, so we only managed a few hundred yards but even that was enough to give us some great views.
This is what defeated us.
But no picture can give a true impression of just how steep it is. I would really like to come back with my lowest gear on my speedy bike and see if I could do it but it would mean several stops for a breather on the way at the best.
We sensibly turned downhill again.
And were soon back beside the river.
The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine selection of fungi beside the road.
As we had plenty of time before our afternoon meal (courtesy of the greatest older son in the world), we cycled down the valley past Dalegarth until we came to the first little station down the line.
You have to look closely to see the platform. It serves it a hotel.
We waited until the diesel hauled down train passed through…
…and then pedalled along the road beside the line a bit further, under the supervision of a local Herdwick sheep.
We heard a distant hoot and hoped to see the next up train come past but nothing appeared so we cycled back to Dalegarth for our meal.
The reason for the non appearance of the up train became clear when it was reported that this locomotive….
…seen earlier on the turntable at Dalegarth, had broken down causing a blockage on the line. (For UK readers the breakdown will not be a surprise when they learn that the locomotive is called Northern Rock.)
However, as we ate our meal, things were sorted out and the next train, pulled by the mighty ‘Hercules’…
…came and went leaving our train to arrive and depart on time.
We had time after our meal to look at an art exhibition in the station and I popped up to the little village of Boot on my bike to look at a very old working water mill…
…which looked as though it would be well worth a visit another time.
The bikes were packed aboard and we were ensconced in our private coach again and the ‘River Irt’, our locomotive, pulled us out of the station bang on time.
These little locos can pull a big load without grumbling.
Our train on the way down the line.
I took a lot of shots while we were moving but none worked very well although I liked the reflection in this one.
We stopped at a few of the little stations on the way down to decant passengers.
…but we were all too soon back at the estuary…
This is the River Mite
…and pulling into Ravenglass Station.
We got our bikes out, thanked the excellent staff of the railway company for our treat, packed the bikes in the car, headed down to the shore for a last look at the sea…
…and drove home, admiring the evening sunshine on the Lake District fells and calling blessings on the head of the world’s greatest elder son for his inspired Christmas present. We felt a bit of self satisfaction too for having chosen such an ideal day to have the treat on. As our daughter had kindly offered to pay for our B&B, the whole thing was perfect. This day out has been our only holiday this year but it was a good one.
I may not have had a post yesterday but I did catch a flying bird on Sunday morning before we left for our outing.