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" Eskdale Railway and Stanley Gill Falls "

Date & start time: 10th November 2012, 11.30 am start.

Location of Start : Ravenglass Station, Eskdale, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 175 007 )

Places visited : Ravenglass Railway to Dalegarth then the Stanley Gill Force walk.

Walk details :   2.5 mls, barely 400 ft ft of ascent, 2 hours 10 mins incl lunch.

Highest point : Below Stanley Gill falls, 485 ft above sea level.

Walked with : Jo, Gareth, Ann and the dogs,  Amber, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Showers in the hills but with the occasional sunny spell to help the views.



" Eskdale Railway and Stanley Gill Falls " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


Our son is up in Cumbria for a few days and requested a day out in Eskdale  . . . where we enjoy a ride on La'al Ratty

and combine it with a short walk up to Stanley Gill Waterfalls close to Dalegarth Station.

Poor weather tries to dampen the proceedings but there's plenty to see today that won't be affected by the occasional shower.

Down on the west coast of the Lake District is a village with two railways.

Ravenglass is on the main West Cumbrian Coast line (seen here) and is also the starting point of the

Ravenglass and Eskdale Narrow Gauge Steam Railway.

Welcome to La'al Ratty.
Trains this way.

Before we board the train there's chance to look in the railway museum adjacent to the car park.

W J Bassett-Lowke . . . a name famous in model trains . . . (my dad had a big 'O' gauge layout in our house many years ago.)

Bassett-Lowke was the benefactor who in 1915 re-opened the derelict rail line from here to Boot in Eskdale.

Posters encouraging visitors to the line.
Artist's impression of the Boot terminus and mines.

The 1875 line was originally a 3 ft gauge mineral railway taking iron ore from Boot to the coast at Ravenglass.

The mine and the railway were fraught with financial difficulties and eventually closed in 1913.

Bassett-Lowke and his friend R Proctor-Mitchell bought the line in order to test the performance of their little 15" gauge engines

and were running a passenger service the full length of the line by 1916.

Stone quarrying at Beckfoot helped finance the running of the line but post war it was again threatened with closure.

It was eventually bought by the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society in 1960 who run it to this day.

More detail can be found in the museum and here on the web site.

- - - o o o - - -

Lets see what it is like now in 2012 . . .

The restricted November timetable only shows two steam journeys out of the five running today.

We aim for the 11.30 am train for a steam outing the full length of the seven mile track to Dalegarth.

It may only be 15 inch gauge . . .
. . . but its construction mirrors its big brothers.

Our loco reverses in . . . to connect to the carriages waiting on Platform One.

Time for final maintenance and safety checks.


Meanwhile Gareth had been busy with his iPhone camera

and a neat little bit of photo software

to capture the "mood of the footplate"


Perhaps a little oil here and there . . .

The River Irt . . . ready to take us up the valley on our day out.

- - - o o o - - -

The line starts by following the River Mite back from the estuary towards the fells of the Eskdale Valley.

Skirting alongside the lower slopes of Muncaster Fell.

We pass the old stone crushing works that processed the Beckfoot quarry stone.

Many piles of new sleepers were ready in position for track maintenance which will take place over the forthcoming winter months.

Full steam as we climbed the bank beyond Miteside
No leaves on the line but it was very slippery nevertheless.

The engine wheels were racing as they were having difficulty in maintaining grip in the wet conditions.

Our speed was getting slower and slower as the driver coaxed the train up the 1:50 incline . . . steep in railway terms.

Unfortunately the hill defeated us and we came to a halt close to but not quite over the highest point of the track.

The guard was called on to place sand on the rails . . .
. . . in an attempt to gain more friction.

We reversed down the incline and had a second go but though we got closer, that summit alluded us

and once again we came to a rest, drive wheels spinning on the wet track.

- - - o o o - - -

Pause for thought . . . do we all get out and push ?

With the wonders of radio communication the cavalry arrive in the form of a solo diesel engine.

[ They didn't have radio in Thomas the Tank Engine's days but this scenario is familiar I'm sure !]

The second engine was waiting at Irton Road with the earlier train of the day

so the loco was quickly disconnected and brought down the line to meet us.

With the combined pulling power . . . and importantly double the grip . . . we motored and steamed our way over the critical fifty yards

and were then able to continue down the other side towards Irton Road.

Just short of the station we were detached from the diesel . . .
. . . and after the passing loop points had been re-set . . .

. . . we steamed into the Irton Road station

where there were kind words and compliments for the other train that had come to our rescue.

Time to be moving on . . .
. . . there's a timetable to catch up with.
One of the enamel posters at the Green.
On the way again after dropping passengers.

There's a fine run up the valley now as we pass the King George IV Pub.

[ I notice they've repainted the gable end after the recent Beer Festival advert was painted on it ]

Onward passed the Fisherground Farm and campsite.

Full steam ahead as we head towards Beckfoot.

The whistle blows before we enter the narow cutting beyond the bridge.

There's another incline ahead so the driver is keeping the speed up as we pass Beckfoot Halt.

Despite one of two tense moments where we almost lost traction again . . . but we made it up the last climb.

Round the last curve . . .
. . . and into Dalegarth Station.

The passing shower that caused us the problem had moved on

and offered a rainbow, almost as an apology for troubling us on our journey up the valley.

Time to leave the train now, as the crew swing the engine on the turntable, ready for the run back down the line.

- - - o o o - - -

We leave the train for a while

and with our map and Wainwright "Walks from the Ratty Railway" book in hand (£3 from the Ravenglass railway shop)

we're off to discover pastures new . . . Stanley Gill Waterfall.

Down the road 300yds (AW's book) or 200 yds (road sign) . . .
. . . and turn left past the war memorial.

A classic stone bridge over a deep little ravine.

[ Looks like a great place for a swim when the weather, and the water, gets warmer ]

Turn left at Dalegarth Hall entrance . . .
. . . leaving the tarmac and joining a muddy lane.

Harry . . . you'll have to give up on the Jimmy Saville impersonations . . . try Churchill for a change !

Birker Beck drains off Birker Fell . . . and we get our first view of the river through the trees.

Harter Fell in the distance is "suffering from the weather" . . . the top is shrouded in mist.

We follow a well defined track into the woods which takes us up alongside the river.

The track, which gets narrower as the valley closes in, is well paved and well designed.

A footbridge takes us over the beck for the first time.

I would think that this path was built and maintained in the last century by the folk from Dalegarth Hall

as an "adventurous" local walk to entertain their friends and guests staying at the hall . . . but there again I may be wrong.

A second bridge means we double back to our original side of the valley.

A third and final bridge takes us ever deeper into the ravine.

Everything is wet and slippery

due to a protracted wet summer and the

enclosed nature of the valley.


Ferns and Rhododendrons line the banks,

all of which are dripping water.


A stile mid-crossing on the third bridge points out,

in an un-missable way, the risks involved in

proceeding further.

The last rise and the last corner . . .
. . . bring us a clear sight of this fine waterfall.

A classic but less frequently visited 60 ft waterfall is set back deep in the ravine.

With the wet and leaf covered path today, I was amused by Wainwright's very apt suggestion . . .

" Keep small children on a tight leash hereabouts "

However this 'child' was totally confident on the tracks despite his 3+7/8th wheel drive.

Another couple of weeks and he won't need his bootee any more . . . anyone want to buy a few spare gortex boots for their own dog ?

Waterfall visited, it was time to re-trace our steps . . .
. . . back over the three bridges and back to the woods.

We had suffered another shower of rain but as we reached the picnic table the sun came out.

We enjoyed a light lunch standing up . . . not because the seat was wet but because the wood was too old to sit on safely.

Rather than return the same mile long route back to the station,

we crossed this fourth footbridge of the day and headed up alongside the main river which is over the back of the trees.

There was an outside chance of crossing on the stepping stones but the river level was up and so the stones were covered.

We continued on up the river bank.

We knew that round the corner was the old railway bridge so we could cross there.

This substantial bridge was built in the 1880's in order to access the Gill Force Mine.

These Eskdale mines were never profitable and soon closed.

The addits are now filled in and overgrown and so hard to find . . . but several of the track beds can be traced in the woodland.

Fortunately for walkers nowadays, the bridge survived and can now be used to cross the river.

A second view of St Catherine's Church that we first saw from the stepping stones a short while ago.

Dalegarth Station in view across the fields.
A section of the old track crossing the fields.

The Eskdale railway originally served the iron mine at Boot, high on the fellside above the watermill and the main village.

A spur of that railway crossed the road and subsequently the fields, to serve the Gill Force Mines via the old girder bridge we crossed.

The curve of that spur was the obvious place to develop the relatively 'new' rail terminus we now know as "Dalegarth Station"

The section of track now only extends as far as the road, but doesn't cross it, as the river side mines are long gone.

- - - o o o - - -

Time to play trains again . . .

Photos a-plenty as the River Irt is manouvered round to the head of the train for the return journey.

It's downhill on the return so hopefully the journey will be more straight forward this time.

Inside carriages for us this time . . .
. . . as it was trying to rain again.

Full steam ahead as we travel down alongside the valley road.

Gareth's shot again highlighting the woodland atmosphere and the motion of the train.

Faithful Diesel as we pass in the loop at Irton Road.

He is hauling the last up-train of the day.

Miteside with its upturned boat shelter.
Muncaster Mill . . . almost home.

The Ravenglass terminus with the other steam locos tucked away in the sheds.

Disembarkation . . . Platform one again.

Jo, Amber, Ann, Bethan, Gareth and Harry . . . with myself as well we needed all that double-compartment space.

Down at the Ravenglass the sun was shining

but the dark skies in the background

reminded us why our jackets

felt a little wet after our excellent day out.


- - - o o o - - -


This must signal time for us to stop now

and make our way home.

- - - o o o - - -

Spot the difference to find the answer

It was Remembrance Weekend and friends were up for a walk in the morning

so Saturday night, after our day out in Eskdale, we had a quick change of clothes

and joined with Peter, Maggie and Neil for a meal at the Quince and Medlar Restaurant Cockermouth.

Hold your cursor over the picture to work out who took the photo !

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, my Canon G10 or 1100D SLR digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a waterproof for the day and a change of clothes for the evening.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 5th November 2012 Crummock and Rannerdale

A previous time up here - 31st May 2011 La'al Ratti with Abi and Alexander

Next walk - 11th November 2012 Great Carrs Remembrance