At Ravenglass, which lies at the point on the Cumbrian coast where the rivers Esk, Mite and Irt come together at the Irish Sea, it's all about the Romans and the railway. The Roman naval base of Glannaventa may have marked the southernmost point of the "Western Sea Defences" with its series of forts and watch-towers. The meaning of the Roman name suggests the possible existence of a trading port at this location, and earlier this year it was reported that an archaeological exploration of the site was to take place aimed at proving the existence of such a settlement. However, a number of items associated with the military unit stationed here have already been discovered, the most important of which was dug up not by an archaeologist, but by a dog! The item in question was a bronze demob certificate pertaining to one of the soldiers. Meanwhile, a short distance away from the village lie the remains of a bathhouse used by the soldiers at the fort. The bathhouse, which is run by English Heritage, includes some of the walls with their doorways and windows, and a niche for a bust.
The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a narrow-gauge railway with steam trains which take visitors along a beautiful stretch of line which wends its way through the valley for seven miles, offering wonderful views of the mountains of the Lake District. The line was built in 1875 to transport iron ore to the coast, and it was affectionately known as "La'al Ratty" in old Cumbrian dialect, meaning "little railway". As well as railway buffs, birdwatchers enjoy the 40-minute journey, which passes through a natural habitat frequented by Greylag Geese, Curlew, Shelduck and Buzzards. If you're very lucky you may spot a Red Squirrel. Back at the station there is a museum which tells the history of the line.
Map of the area.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Nigel Chadwick, via Wikimedia Commons|