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The Last Few Days

I didn't really get a chance to finish updating this while we were away, so I'll quickly summarise the rest of the holiday here.

On Tuesday, we went on the Eskdale and Ravenglass Railway, otherwise known locally as La'al Ratty. It's a small steam line (3 foot gauge) which runs up the Esk Valley and conveniently stops just down the road from Boot. We got Nathan into his new Bush Baby carrier and headed off on our expedition to Ravenglass. The first 25 minutes of him in the carrier were killers, as I rediscovered muscles that I haven't used for a long time.

Eskdale Railway - Out to Ravenglass - 4
Nathan waiting for the train to start.

I'd taken the OS maps of the area with me (more awkward than usual as the valley runs on the edge of two maps) and followed the journey as we went. It was great fun, although I recommend a jumper if you are in an open coach! The views were great.

Eskdale Railway - Out to Ravenglass
Arriving in Ravenglass.

Jill was looking for Thomas the Tank Engine when she took the picture above! Once we arrived in Ravenglass, we headed off out of town along the road to the Roman Bath House Ruin that's there, at the edge of the site of an old fort. Back in Roman Britain, Ravenglass was quite an active port. Nathan had great fun as we went along, grabbing my shoulders and trying to steer me along.

Nathan and Dom @ Ravenglass
Nathan riding his Daddy's back!

The bath house was quite a substantial ruin, in a state similar to some older castles I've visited in the past, but beyond a plaque and a space to walk about there wasn't an awful lot to do except use your imagination. Now, Roman times were one of the periods of history that fascinated me (I'd have done a Classics A-Level had the school not stopped me) so it wasn't too hard to do, especially as you could clearly see the edge of the old fort from the trench and rampart that ran around it in the adjacent field. However, it was the kind of place that you spend thirty minutes at (maybe more with a picnic) rather than the full on Roman experience like Herculaneum or even the fort in the Hardknott Pass.

Ravenglass Roman Bath House
This picture shows all the ruins of the Roman Bath House.

The trip back was great, and Nathan managed to fall asleep. We were sitting just in front of a group of rail enthusiasts who were cycling the old rail routes to see where everything used to go. I was fascinated to hear some of the technical details. They also took a lovely picture of Nathan showing his new interest in ice cream.

Eskdale Railway Return Trip - 4
Moments after he made a grab for my Magnum Classic!

The next day saw us travelling across to Windermere, via Sawtry and Beatrix Potter's old farm Hill Top, and the ferry. When we got to Bowness we visited the Beatrix Potter Experience, which was great and is definitely the place that I would recommend if you;ve got children who are into Beatrix Potter. Fortunately, Nathan and I managed to guide Jill through without her getting too excited. The café here was much better that the one on the railway, although the setting was a little less attractive.

Thursday saw us in Whitehaven, which was my old stamping ground when I was up in the Lakes working. It isn't much to look at, and even the improvement activities seem to have gone a little shabby, but there are real gems here. The place used to be one of the major ports in the UK (indeed, Cunard started here and moved to Liverpool later) and it's one of the few places to have been attacked by a foreign power in the guise of the US Navy during the War of Independence. One of their great heroes, John Paul Jones, led the raid here. There are other links, but you need to look below the surface rather than take the place at face value. I'm guessing the closure of one of the town's two main employers in 2005 hasn't helped the place.

An old Churchyard in Whitehaven, showing the spiral created for the Millennium celebrations.

Anyway, the really good reason to visit Whitehaven still remains; Michael Moon's Antiquarian bookshop on Lowther Street. The place is fantastic, a deceptive in size like Doctor Who's TARDIS. If you like books, you should visit this place. There's a great review of it here in Sam Jordison's blog. After we finished at Michael Moon's we went for a walk around Whitehaven, and then we headed out of town to nearby Cleator Moor, where we met up with some old friends, Howard, Paula and their daughter Mary-Jane. They're a little ahead of us (MJ is 16 months old), so we had a great time catching up and exchanging tips. Nathan behaved himself, and we got him into the car asleep when we headed back to the cottage and the effective end of the enjoyable holiday.

Ulpha Fell Road
The Ulpha Fell road on the way back to Yorkshire.

It's worth mentioning that we had two very nice meals on the journey from and to home at a pub called The Plough, at Lupton. This is the end of the A65 just between Kirkby Lonsdale and the M6, near Kendal.