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The Lake District’s Only Narrow Gauge Railway

The 7 mile 15” gauge La’al Ratty, as the railway is known locally, is also the oldest and longest railway in the Lake District, although the only other one is the 3½ mile Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

Brief History

Getting there

By train - R&ER Ravenglass station is adjacent to the national rail station on the Cumbrian Coast line from Carlisle to Barrow in Furness. Through tickets can be purchased from any staffed station or on the train. It is recommended to allow 30 minutes between main line and R&ER trains at Ravenglass.

By car - There is parking available at Ravenglass and Dalegarth stations. Ravenglass is just off the A595, Dalegarth is on an unclassified road near Boot, look out for brown tourist information signs. Refer to the map above for locations and postcodes.


The map below shows the location of all the stations and Halts on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode (where known). Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

Attractions and Facilities

Facilities are concentrated at the termini, here’s what else there is along the route:



Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
at a Glance

Type: Preserved Narrow Gauge Railway

Gauge: Narrow, 15” (381mm)

Length: 7 miles

Stations: 4 + 5 halts

First opened: 1875

Closed: 1913

Re-opened as 15” gauge line: 1915

for Boot

Holiday cottage in Talkin, Cumbria

Headquarters Address:



Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway,
CA18 1SW

01229 717171

Map | Getting there | Attractions & Facilities | Operation | Brief History | Review | Links



A daily service is in operation from April to October and at Christmas and several winter weekends, click on the timetable image under links below for details.


Steam and diesel traction is used, the locomotives usually used on passenger trains are as follows:


Trains consist of a mixture of open, open sided and fully enclosed bogie carriages to suit all weather conditions.



Since the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Co Ltd has been in the hands of the Wakefield family, the railway has become one of the top visitor attractions in the Lake district. Extensive work has been carried out on the locomotives, track and buildings including the completely new station and visitor centre at Dalegarth.

Although keen on standard gauge heritage diesels, I am not a fan of narrow gauge diesels so when visiting the R&ER in April 2010, I planned to take the 2nd train after we arrived which, according to the timetable, would be steam hauled.

We travelled from Carlisle along the picturesque Cumbrian Coast Line by Northern Rail class 156 to Ravenglass. Taking the second train gave us plenty of time to look around the museum and at ‘Northern Rock’ and ‘Shelagh of Eskdale’ which were standing outside the engineering workshop awaiting maintenance.

We stopped off at Jan’s Café and sampled the delightful home baking. The adjacent main line station building was acquired by Lord Wakefield and transformed into a public house called ‘The Ratty Arms’. We didn’t get time to pop in but it’s in a handy location.

When our train arrived, B-B Diesel ‘Lady Wakefield’ was in charge, shortly afterwards the 2-8-2 steam locomotive ‘River Esk’ arrived on an engineering train. I hoped the locomotives were going to be swapped over so that our train would be steam hauled as planned but the diesel ran round the train, refuelled and was coupled to the front.

I didn’t let it spoil my day though, the 40 minute journey through spectacular countryside and sleepy villages to the new station at Dalegarth for Boot was very enjoyable. On the way, we passed two trains that were heading back to Ravenglass, hauled by 2-8-2 ‘River Mite’ and B-B diesel ‘Douglas Ferreira’, the newest locomotive on the line.

Dalegarth station and visitor centre is in a beautiful location with views of England’s highest mountains. The station is well equipped with facilities including the Scafell Gift Shop and the Fellbites Eatery. Cycle hire is available, alternatively this is an excellent starting point for walks. Unfortunately, we only had 20 minutes there as we had to get on the next train to Ravenglass in order to catch the Northern Rail train back to Carlisle. I would recommend spending longer at Dalegarth if you can.

It is recommended to allow 30 minutes between R&ER and main line trains at Ravenglass, La’al Ratty was running late so we had about 5 minutes but we just about made it.

With all it’s history, delightful little trains and stunning views, a visit to the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway is a must if you find yourself anywhere near the Lake District.

I like little railways like this, having seen the 15” gauge Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway in Kent before, I had an idea of what to expect and La’al Ratty did not disappoint. The terrain that the railway threads through is outstanding, the views from the railway and at Dalegarth are the icing on the cake.

The only improvement I would like to see is the diesels being used for maintenance work and using only steam engines on the passenger trains.