FW12:  Boot to Ravenglass


Monday 29th October 2012: Boot to Eskdale Green

Full marks to anyone who spots that FW12 does not commence where FW11 left off. Even fuller marks for anybody who remembers FW11 at all, as it has been well over a year since that was undertaken.

This delay was in part caused by the problem of logistics. After much head scratching and soul searching, the realisation dawned that the next few "official" legs would be longer, more strenuous in terms of terrain and that we would be doing them simply for the sake of doing them.

What, we asked ourselves, is the point of doing sections that are unglamorous, not to mention inconvenient in terms of access, just for the dubious merit of completeness? That is obsessive compulsive behaviour akin to Asberger's syndrome.  Or at least it is my excuse for the fact that we have skipped the parts over Walna Scar and Ulpha Fell in order to progress with the delights of Eskdale and the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn.

A further delight was that Margaret and I were able to undertake the vast majority of the travelling by train.  

Once I discovered that there is a direct train from Arnside to Ravenglass, the plan fell into place.  Ian and Cynthia had loyally stood by waiting for the opportunity for us to complete the Way together.  It should have happened a month ago but the horrendous rain that Cumbria then experienced led to the expedition being postponed.

This time we had a very pleasant morning riding around the Cumbrian coast- a trip only spoilt somewhat by the filthy state of the carriage windows- not exactly a sensible way of attracting sightseeing customers to possibly the most scenic part of the rail network.  

Black Combe made blacker by dirty windows

The view from the Rosegarth Guest House

We checked in at the friendly and comfortable Rosegarth Guest House in the centre of Ravenglass then set off in search of Ian & Cynthia who had travelled independently and were staying in their caravan. Having their car there meant that we had transport up the Esk valley as far as Eskdale Green where the plan was to catch La'al Ratty- the small gauge train- up to Dalegarth, the head of the line.

We were somewhat worried that perhaps things had gone wrong when the down-train, pulled by Northern Rock, arrived before the up-train, something that was not supposed to happen and was rather discouraging on a single track railway.  

The down train pulled by Northern Rock

Fortunately, unbeknown to us, there was a passing section further down the line and we did not have much longer to wait.  Indeed, we were rewarded with a steamer, River Mite, rather than the scheduled, uggh, wash your mouth out, diesel engine.

Is that a train coming?

The up train arrives pulled by River Mite

It was obviously essential that we started with a visit to the Boot Inn which was unchanged from when BOOTboys visited in BB1032 though rather developed from the inaugural 1973 visit on which occasion Big Josie was encountered.  In the days it was the Burnmoor Inn.  

River Mite on the turntable

The Boot Inn

Changes are afoot.  Only a week ago, the pub was taken over by Pennington Hotels and I fear for what might become of it.  Already, it was staffed by a Pennington barman who would rather have been at the hotel.  However, it has to be recorded that we had probably the finest, and certainly the largest, beefburger and chips that I can recall.

In the Boot

Mega burger

Baby and momma Belted Galloways

It was mid afternoon by the time we emerged and our itinerary looked like being threatened by the much earlier dusk now that we are in winter time.  

A further delay took place near Esk View Farm as a Belted Galloway (I always want to call them Melted Mowbrays) cow and her young calf were being herded into a van that completely blocked the track.

Yet another, but this time not unexpected, delay took place at St Catherine's small church.

Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is the grave of Tommy Dobson, Eskdale's equivalent of Troutbeck's John Peel or Mardale's Joe Bowman.

St Catherine's Church

Tommy Dobson

The price of these delays was the decision not to undertake the detour to Stanley Force. Instead, we continued along the very pleasant trail through fields and light woodland tracks close by the river until we reached Force Bridge.  

River Esk

The river narrows

Force Bridge

A farmhouse that Ian admired.....

..... and another

Guess the number of black bales

Somewhat to our surprise, we were now ahead of schedule so decided to undertake an extension that would reduce the morrow's distance a little.

This nearly went wrong.  I had three maps with me.  Harveys 1:25k, OS 1:25k and OS 1:50k, all blown up to 1:12.5k for easy reading.  For some unknown reason, the one I had in my hand was the OS 1:50k, the others were in my bag.  I led the group across the field, along what should have been the footpath that was clearly marked on the map, only to discover that the gate that was supposed to be on the left side of the little mound was nowhere to be seen.  Whilst I was hunting through deep bog for where it might be, Cynthia used her initiative and found the track on the other side of the hillock- exactly, I later discovered, where the other two maps said it would be.

Note to self- never use the 1:50k when you have larger scale maps to hand.

There was still a risk factor.  Irrespective of which map you consult, a stream had to be forded. With so much water about, there was distinct danger of being forced to turn back; a prospect not enticing when dusk is approaching.

Fortunately we were able to negotiate a way across and return to the car without further problem.

Negotiating the stream

Pennington Hotel

Pennington's fish caker

That night we ate at the Pennington Arms in Ravenglass.  

Traditional exterior.

Interior refurbished extensively and now having a very modern, clean, bright interior that the others appreciated.

Lots of nice pictures on the wall.

Good food.

But..........I found it totally soulless.  

Please, Penningtonians, don't refurbish the Boot Inn in similar fashion.

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:



Tuesday 30th October 2012: Eskdale Green to Ravenglass

Early start today.  First train out of Ravenglass (this time it was a diesel).

The weather had deteriorated and was threatening to turn nasty. Perhaps that was the reason why there had been only one other party aboard.  So, given a long and empty train, why would parents choose to sit themselves and their children, who were obviously getting on mummy's nerves, immediately behind us?  Fortunately, we shed them by alighting at Irton Road Halt

Irton Road Halt

We climbed up the bridle path to near the point where we had the navigational quandary on the previous evening, but then turned right to climb up Muncaster Fell.  The ground was very wet and slippery.  At times it might have been more accurate to say that the bog had the odd bit of non-squelchy tufts.  It was hard and wet going.

Negotiating the bog

Knee deep in the mire

Avoiding the sinking path

Black boggy peat

We found Ross's Camp, a group of stones arranged to form a luncheon table for Victorian gentlemen whilst out shooting.  The geese overhead were safe today.

Ross's Camp

A skein of geese

To the east we could see Bowfell and Crinkle Crags.....

Bowfell & Crinkle Crags

          ..... while to the south-west was the lower Esk Valley.....

Lower Esk Valley

..... and north-west lay the beautiful sight of Sellafield!


It didn't seem worth the detour to the top of Hooker Crag (indeed we had been warned off it that morning by mine host at the B&B for being too boggy).  The main reason, however, was that rain was threatening and it seemed sensible to drop down to the road as quickly as possible, passing on the way the tarn that they don't want you to visit.  But if you click on the picture.....!

Click on picture for more of Muncaster Tarn

The castle and the witch

Muncaster Castle had gone Halloween-mad with pumpkins everywhere and a witch flying round the castle.

Muncaster pumpkins

It must be galling to the owners that a public footpath runs right through the centre of their grounds so, without entrance fee, we were able to look into their small church (with the incongruous pair of high heels in the doorway), past the gardens and cafe, across the lawns in front of the hall and up into the woods before emerging on an open hillside with a fine view across the Esk and Irk estuary.

The Esk and Irk estuary

Walls Castle Roman Bath House

Halloweened Ravenglass

After inspecting the substantial remains of the Roman baths, it was only a short stroll back to Ravenglass (also Halloweened) and yet another bar meal, this time in the Ratty Arms where an unexpected Royal welcome awaited to congratulate us on completing the Furness Way.

One is defintiely amused

Farewell Ravenglass and the Ratty Arms

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Our thanks go to Ian and Cynthia for accompanying and motivating us on much of the Furness Way (plus contributing several of the photos) and to help celebrate what we felt to be its conclusion.

But is it?

Ian seems very keen to go back and complete the missing sections.  Maybe one day but until then we have another cunning plan for a long distance walk.  All will be revealed n due course!

 Don, 30th October 2012

Total distance in miles:


Total height climbed in feet:




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Heversham to

Levens Bridge to

Helsington to

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Witherslack to

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Low Wood

Low Wood to
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Boot to


BOOT boys

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