Origin of the world’s first pencil
The definitive tourist guide to the Western Lake District
Whether you enjoy birdwatching, invigorating coastal walks or sampling the finest, freshest local seafood, this beautiful, coastal landscape has something to tempt you.
Origin of the world’s first pencil
Rich cultural heritage, great local food and some of England’s finest walking country
The valleys of Eskdale and Wasdale along with the coastal village of Ravenglass sit amongst a host of local attractions, rich roman heritage and some of the area’s most stunning vistas.
The spectacular peaks and beautiful waterfalls of Eskdale are created by the sparkling River Esk which starts high in the mountains at Esk Hause and winds its way dramatically to the sea. The valley also contains Hardknott pass – Britain’s steepest road with breathtaking bends and steep inclines which are not for the faint hearted but provide panoramic views at the top. As the pass descends into Eskdale it passes Hardknott Roman Fort. Built in the 2nd Century AD on a rocky spur it is an interesting archeological site.
In the heart of this lovely valley is the small village of Boot, home to a working corn mill, three real-ale pubs and a micro-brewery. The Woolpack Inn, at the foot of Hardknott Pass, serves great food, real ale and a warm welcome. It’s family and dog friendly and well worth further exploration, even if we do say so ourselves!
At the coastal end lies Ravenglass where three rivers meet to form an estuary and natural harbour. Once an important Roman port and fishing town it is now better known as a terminus for the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway or La'al Ratty as it is affectionately known. This is a narrow gauge railway that travels between Eskdale and Ravenglass where it links with the mainline train services making the area very accessible to the non-car driver. There is also a good network of hire and charge points for electric bikes in the region - a great way to get about on two wheels without the effort of traditional peddle power.
A little inland stands Muncaster Castle, ancient family seat of the Pennington family with colourful spring gardens, a renowned owl centre, a celebrated ‘fool' and ghosts aplenty to keep visitors amused for hours. Just a stones throw away lies Wasdale, home to Britain’s deepest lake, highest mountain, smallest church and biggest liar! Wasdale was also recently voted as providing Britain's Best View.
The area offers something for everyone – from a relaxed stroll along the gentle lanes to a rigorous assault of Scafell and Scafell Pike. This is the land of Bronze Age settlements, Roman forts, medieval mills, fascinating festivals and events and great locally sourced food and drink so come and discover this rich and welcoming corner of Cumbria.
In the stunning Eskdale Valley and at the foot of Hardknott Pass, this traditional inn is relaxed and welcoming with cosy and comfortable rooms, brilliant breakfasts, great ales and a huge food offering, from light bites and pizzas to hearty pub meals.
With 800 years of history, beautiful gardens, an owl sanctuary, maze, and even a resident ghost, Muncaster Castle has certainly earned its Cumbrian Tourism Award. Add to this its enviable setting high on the hills and you have the makings of a perfect day out. If you fancy staying the night, there are even guest rooms... just beware of the ghost!
Hop aboard the narrow gauge engines for an unforgettable seven mile journey along the coastline between Eskdale and Ravenglass. Originally opened in 1875 to transport iron ore, the La'al Ratty now carries thousands of people on the longest narrow gauge railway of its kind in the UK.
Just in case our stunning location alone isn’t enough to bring you to glorious Eskdale, here’s our pick of some of the top days out and things to do in the coming months.
There is so much to do in this beautiful area - one visit simply isn't enough! Your could:
Drive or cycle Hardknott Pass - Britain's steepest road
Tour Muncaster Castle
Visit Hardknott Roman Fort
Wonder at Wasdale - voted Britain's favourite view
Climb Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain
Take the Woolpack Vodka Challenge
Visit Eskdale Mill
Ride the La'al Ratty the Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway
Star gaze without light pollution
Scramble up a ghyll
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway has two splendid coaches available to rent throughout the season. ‘Elmira’ and ‘Maid of Kent’, originally built as Ambulance Cars for use in the First World War, are now the last of these historic vehicles available for public hire. Most definitely a railway sleeper of a very special kind!
Find out more here