Sorry to harp on again about this ageing stuff; but I'm beginning to worry that middle age is turning me into a sad old git - not to put too fine a point on it - because when I looked back on my notes from our week in the Lake District they were full of enthusiasm about wildlife - particularly bird life - and - here comes the crunch point - trains, yes trains. One of our most enjoyable days out was on the Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway.
"Am I turning into a trainspotting, beer mat collecting, anorak wearing weirdo", I asked myself; and once again, getting know comprehensible reply, I found myself reassured by my fellow bloggers. Bill Blunt's recent post on collecting things was hugely reassuring. His collection speciality is Wetherspoons pubs. He disputes that he is a collector per se; but I think that anyone who aims to sample and review as many pubs in the famous national chain as possible is, to all intents and purposes, a collector - I was reassured.
The Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway must be about the prettiest example of public transport I have ever seen. It is a narrow gauge railway saved from being scrapped, quite literally, by a group of steam enthusiasts in the 1960s. It is not simply a tourist attraction but a relic of an age when narrow gauge railways were built to fulfil an industrial necessity: in this case transporting quarried stone, once crushed, to the regular gauge trains at the mainline Ravenglass station built conveniently directly adjacent to the little one. Apparently the narrow gauge track was easier and cheaper to lay in the rugged Lakeland fell terrain (no pun intended - but it is quite nice isn't it: train/terrain).
The station itself is a beautifully restored example of the type of country railway station John Betjamin would have gushed poetically about; it simply oozes sleepy country charm. Smartly painted and resplendent with summer floral displays it takes one of the things I love about railway stations - that feeling of ordered calm, the quiet and emptiness between trains - to a new level.
The journey is a pleasurable chug, in mainly open sided carriages, from the open esturial waters of the Lakeland coast up through the increasingly craggy countryside of the Eskdale valley, to the final destination at Dalegarth where Scafell towers in the distance.
Hanging out of the carriage, pointing at birds I spotted and waving wildly at pedestrians, I was entranced by the whole experience; and part of me can understand the pleasure that trainspotters must get from the time they spend around this form of transport. But, not to stray too far from where I started this journey: bird watching, I found, as the number of previously unseen birds increased that I hankered after some sort of checklist where I could perhaps tick them off...now that is worrying.