Santa Express – The La’al Ratty at Ravenglass, Cumbria

It seems like months ago that I booked our tickets to visit Santa on the Santa Express at Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway and finally, that day arrived on Sunday 21st December…

O was suitably excited as we piled on the layers at home – we’d heard that some of the carriages didn’t have heating so we needed to wrap up well!  Coupled with O having a cold, this was a needs-must.  One vest, long-sleeved top, hooded jumper, coat, hat, gloves, lined trousers, welly socks and boots later, we were ready to go!  We hopped in the car and set off on our journey to Ravenglass.

Known locally as The La’al Ratty, meaning Little Railway in olde Cumbrian dialect, this is one of the longest and narrowest gauge railways in England, and has been around for over 100 years.

When we arrived, we checked-in at the desk, collected our tickets and wandered through onto the train platform.  The engine had been started and it was nearly time to set off!  Not before grabbing a picture with the Santa Special!

We sat down in our carriage and off we went!  The railway tracks travel from Ravenglass to Dalegarth station, with a handful of stations along the way.  Travelling along on the old steam train, there’s some gorgeous views to take in.  After all, we are in the Lake District National Park!

Suddenly, the train stopped in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere!  The Guard came down the line of carriages and asked us to get out of the train and stand away from the adjacent line.  We then could see a puff of steam in the distance – Santa was arriving!

Rudolph was doing a fantastic job at pulling Santa’s sleigh, and he arrived with a sack full of presents for the children.  He got into one of the carriages and we set off for Dalegarth and Santa’s Grotto.  Halfway there, the train stopped again and Santa got into our carriage!

He had brought with him a set of Sleigh Bells to show the children and told them that if they heard that sound on Christmas Eve, they were to go straight back to sleep because Santa can’t appear if they’re awake!  Santa sang some Christmas songs and asked the children about the Christmas activities they’d been doing at school.  It was really lovely – although O was pretty nervous about the big man!
Santa left our carriage at another stop part way down the line, and before we knew it we had arrived at Dalegarth.  We got off the train and entered the station house.  Led by one of Santa’s Elf helpers, we walked through the station into Santa’s Grotto!  There were plenty of tables for all the passengers and we were served mulled wine and a mince pie for the grown-ups and the kids got a glass of juice and a piece of Rocky Road cake.  It was delicious!
O managed to get chocolate EVERYWHERE.  And just as we were returning from a mammoth hand-washing session in the loos, the Elves were gathering up all the children onto the carpet at Santa’s Grotto.  O joined the other children on the carpet and covered his ears as they all shouted for Santa to wake up!  It’s tiring work being Santa, y’know!
O was one of the first children to be called up to collect his present from Santa but was so shy, Daddy took him up to see the big man.  He said please and thank you appropriately, and was so pleased to receive a gift!  He bounded back towards our table with a huge grin on his face and couldn’t wait to open it!  
I’m usually one of those parents that makes the kids wait until Christmas to open any presents they receive… But seen as this one came from Santa himself, I thought WHY NOT!?  So O went ahead and ripped the paper from the present to find a fab WOW Motorcycle with figurines.  
Soon, it was time to get back onto the train to head back to the Ravenglass station.  O and I enjoyed a snuggle on the way back.  O poking his nose out of the slightly open window like a dog!  
We all loved our trip on the Santa Express.  I’d highly recommend this trip to anyone with young children at Christmas time, and also the La’al Ratty to visitors throughout the year.  It’s a great way to see some of the western Lake District, as well as experiencing a teeny, tiny steam train!

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