Steamed up

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.

elephant hawk moth caterpillarFirst 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.

RavenglassAlthough 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.

Roman bath house RavenglassIt may not look much but apparently it is the tallest Roman ruin  in Britain.

Roman bath house RavenglassIt has added lichen.

lichen at ravenglassAfter we visited the bath house, we went down to the shore only to find that the sea had disappeared.

RavenglassWe 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.

Ravenglass railway
Even the benches are classy.

We were shown to our private coach.

Ravenglass railway

Ravenglass railway
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 12 inch gauge  locomotive  and a much more modern diesel.
The oldest 15 inch gauge locomotive and a much more modern diesel.
Ravenglass railway
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.

Ravenglass railway
It starts beside a tidal river.  You can see the Lake District hills in the background.
Ravenglass railway
We were soon climbing steadily through woods
Ravenglass railway
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.

EskdaleThe views on every side were rewarding.

EskdaleEskdaleEskdaleWe 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.

Hardknott PassYes, 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.

Hardknott pass viewHardknott pass viewThis is what defeated us.

Hardknott passBut 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.

Hardknott passAnd were soon back beside the river.

EskdaleThe sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine selection of fungi beside the road.

eskdale fungiAs 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.

Ravenglass railway stationYou have to look closely to see the platform.   It serves it a hotel.

Hotel Ravenglass railway stationWe waited until the diesel hauled down train passed through…

Ravenglass railway…and then pedalled along the road beside the line a bit further, under the supervision of a local Herdwick sheep.

sheepWe 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….

Northern Rock…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’…

Hercules Ravenglass railway…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…

Boot 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.

River Irt Ravenglass railway
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.

River Irt Ravenglass railwayWe stopped at a few of the little stations on the way down to decant passengers.

Ravenglass railway…but we were all too soon back at the estuary…

River Mite
This is the River Mite

…and pulling into Ravenglass Station.

RavenglassWe 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…

Ravenglass…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.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

52 thoughts on “Steamed up

  1. Any day that involves two breakfasts is a winner in my book! Gorgeous photos – especially like the train reflection and the squirrel bench. Is the water mill still used to mill?

  2. There were enough warning signs posted on the steep road – enough to deter anyone. I like the “rabbit” bench!

  3. I appreciate all your blogs but once again you surpass yourself. It could be said to be a family occasion? as we all get pleasure from knowing friends refreshed, and somewhat energised, especially when they share it so well. Thanks all involved. did the trians have enough steam to super toot?

  4. What a pleasure it must be to you to have such a generous and thoughtful son. 😉

    Seriously, I think that this is one of your best posts yet! Your photos of the scenery both in town and out are excellent, as are the photos of the locomotives. I feel as though I owe your son and daughter a big thank you for their gifts, as I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    1. I am glad to see that you are one of the careful readers! It makes taking the pictures even more fun when I know that there are people who will enjoy looking at them.

  5. What a wonderful treat – simply splendid photographs. So glad you had such lovely weather for the extra special outing.

  6. I read your blog from cover to cover entranced by all I saw, what a fabulous present. The train ride must have been such fun and the views you saw at the top of the ride were splendid. I have driven up and down 25% hills on Skye but never even seen a 30% sign.

  7. Splendid pictures, as always! I especially liked the one of the bench at the station. And what a lovely name for a place, Ravenglass. Sounds like something out of ‘Harry Potter”.

  8. Lovely account and pictures.. (and, further to your message, no way did we cycle up the hill, we just pushed the bikes and even that was a massive effort! Good views though)

  9. Marvellous post. A great collection of photos and your usual inimitable narrative. Indeed, you have such a generous and thoughtful son, but is you and Mrs Tootlepedal who have a wonderful knack of getting the best out of your adventures. I particularly liked the photo with the train reflection.

  10. Kudos to your son (and daughter) for providing you with such an excellent outing, and one that all your readers can enjoy, too! Magnificent photos today, those landscapes were breathtaking and really helped me feel I was there. I also really loved the sailboat at sunset, the Roman ruins and the hotel/train station. Of course, the train shots were a treat, too. So glad you and Mrs. T enjoyed your mini-holiday to the fullest!

  11. Really enjoyable post. I haven’t been on this line and asked my husband if he had but he hadn’t and wanted to. He is a rail enthusiast and we often visit places that have special railway lines or interesting engines. The photographs of the wonderful scenery were my favourites.

  12. The images of the train ride are excellent. The Ravenglass station benches are very old? How long has that seat ?

  13. What a fun day. I loved the train pictures, and I would be on that trip for sure. Your shot of the reflection was my favorite! Your oldest son is quite a guy, by the way, but you clearly know that!!

  14. What a prefect day out and what a lovely son and daughter you have for thinking of it. The reflection in the train window is a great shot and I like this ruins and the mill. It may have been your only holiday but it was a good one.

  15. The steam trains are great – experiencing a journey from a bye-gone era. I enjoy travelling on them. did you avoid breathing in the smoke?

      1. The Fort William to Mallaig has windows which open. When it goes through a tunnel the smoke can come in. Of course my friend Lisa and I were hanging out the window on the doors when it happened!

  16. I enjoyed every photo and was so happy to go on this trip vicariously. Love the wooden interior of the train car, and that photo with the curve of the bridge reflected, and the reflective photo of the train going round a curve and, well, just everything.

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