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56 EVERGREEN Autumn The

56 EVERGREEN Autumn The view to Harter Fell from Boot Bank, Eskdale. TOM RICHARDSON UK’s heritage lines. Ratty actually goes somewhere; it takes you places. At a typical heritage railway, people will arrive (almost certainly by car), go for a ride, return to the start and drive away again. Many people do experience the Ravenglass and Eskdale in the same way but it’s capable of offering a whole lot more, and Wainwright’s little book makes this clear. Want to have a bar lunch at the Woolpack Inn in the delightfully named village of Boot? Visit friends who live nearby? Go for a walk? Ratty can take you there. It becomes obvious when you look at the map. From Ravenglass Station on the National Rail system the Ravenglass and Eskdale penetrates to the heart of Eskdale, a stunning valley otherwise devoid of public transport, just like an old-fashioned branch line. Ironically, Ratty in its present form was secured just as the UK’s last surviving rural branch lines were being ruthlessly culled. I recently travelled to the railway by train from Carlisle on a combined ticket that included my journey on Ratty. In the Blair years they’d have called that “joined-up travel”. Effectively the Ravenglass railway is a part of the National Rail system. I decided to try Walk Four from Walks from Ratty, or part of it, anyway. Wainwright recommends alighting at Beckfoot (a halt just a few hundred yards before Dalegarth), climbing the steep zig-zag path to Blea Tarn, and then wheeling clockwise via Boot to the station at Dalegarth. I just had the time for a quick dash up and down from

2017 EVERGREEN 57 Ravenglass Station is the starting point for the seven-mile long railway. DOROTHY BURROWS Beckfoot, but all the same I remained on the train all the way to Dalegarth, just three whistle-tooting minutes on from Beckfoot. Dalegarth for Boot Station (to grant it its full current name) is in the high season a café, shop, picnic site, playground and car park that happens to have a couple of working railway platforms attached. The large station building is relatively new, having been opened in 2007 by record producer and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman. It gets very busy but most visitors don’t stray very far. It’s worth stating “McVey’s Iron Law of the Lakes”: wherever you are in Lakeland, however busy it is, it is always easy to escape the crowds, given a few minutes and the willingness to walk for a bit! I proved the truth of this law again. I quickly backtracked along the road to Beckfoot and went off-road on to the Blea Tarn path, crossing the railway on a wee level crossing. The path climbs quickly but easily, thanks to the zig-zags, and I was able to take a picture of a train pausing briefly far below at Beckfoot. In Walks from Ratty Wainwright describes the view of upper Eskdale from here as “delectable” and he’s not wrong. At Blea Tarn, on a good day in school-holiday August, I met three other parties. One had come

Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
This England
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Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
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