After 50 years, the Dartmoor train line is reopening, bringing passengers directly to the national park.

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After 50 years, the Dartmoor train line is reopening, bringing passengers directly to the national park.

Dartmoor National Park will be more accessible, with a travel time of around 40 minutes between Exeter and Okehampton.

Paul Rendell, a walking guide, will close his front door shortly after 9 a.m. this Sunday and stroll across to Okehampton station to meet a group of passengers who arrived early.

They’re planning a five-hour hike across Dartmoor’s brooding, bony flanks, which rise just across the tracks.

You might think it’s just another day for a walking guide, but that train’s arrival marks the beginning of a new era in Okehampton.

The town is about to be reconnected to the national rail network after a 50-year absence, years of campaigning, and several false starts.

It has the potential to change the local economy as well as Paul’s own bookings.

The reopening of “the Dartmoor Line,” which connects Okehampton and Exeter, is the first of the Department of Transport’s “restoring your railway” initiatives following the 1960s Beeching era of closures.

Several other projects are in the works, but the Okehampton service got a head start due to the existence of a freight connection to Meldon quarry, which is located just outside of town.

What is there to do for rail-based visitors now that £40 million has been spent upgrading the track and refurbishing the station? I went down to Devon last week to find out.

The town itself is a bit of a letdown as a vacation spot.

But it’s welcoming, with everything from Waitrose to Wetherspoons, as well as a quirky Dartmoor Life Museum.

More importantly, as the new route’s name implies, it provides immediate access to a large amount of fresh air.

The Granite Way, which begins near the station and winds its way westward around the moor’s waistline, provided my first lungful.

This is the trackbed of a former railway, the extension of the Okehampton line that once headed onwards to Tavistock and then into Cornwall, like many other pleasant walking and cycling routes.

I rented a bike at the station, which was conveniently located near a youth hostel.

I whizzed out of there, past the abandoned quarry that gives the Granite Way its name, and into more open countryside, where the moor rose in its brown winter coat to greet me.

UK news summary from Infosurhoy.

After 50 years, the Dartmoor train line is reopening, bringing passengers directly to the national park.

The Dartmoor train line is reopening after 50 years, delivering passengers directly to the national park

Getting there
The Dartmoor Line opens on 20 November, with a journey time of around 40 minutes between Exeter and Okehampton and connections to the GWR network.

Staying there
Meadowlea Guesthouse in Okehampton has doubles from £70 B&B

Visiting there
Adventure Okehampton offers Granite Way bike hire for £16 per day.
Paul Rendell offers guided walks on Dartmoor.

More information
visitdartmoor.co.uk

Okehampton Station platform (Photo: visitdartmoor.co.uk)Andrew Eames on the Granite Way cycle route The River Lyd at Lydford Gorge (Photo: Getty Images)

The Dartmoor train line is reopening after 50 years, delivering passengers directly to the national park

Getting there
The Dartmoor Line opens on 20 November, with a journey time of around 40 minutes between Exeter and Okehampton and connections to the GWR network.

Staying there
Meadowlea Guesthouse in Okehampton has doubles from £70 B&B

Visiting there
Adventure Okehampton offers Granite Way bike hire for £16 per day.
Paul Rendell offers guided walks on Dartmoor.

More information
visitdartmoor.co.uk

Okehampton Station platform (Photo: visitdartmoor.co.uk)Andrew Eames on the Granite Way cycle route The River Lyd at Lydford Gorge (Photo: Getty Images)

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