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Travel

Station Vacation

With trains passing the front windows, the holiday accommodation at Dent Station combines Dales scenery with living history. Words and pictures by Clive Nicholls.

There's something special about Dent Station. It’s the highest main line station in England, nestling 1150ft up in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

On the Settle-Carlisle line, it was built in 1877 and over the years has witnessed huge changes to Britain’s railways. And there’s another thing that makes it special: the station building has been converted to luxury holiday accommodation, sleeping up to six.

Look out of the front windows and you can watch trains coming and going – Dent is still a working station. Look out of the back windows and you have magnificent views across the Dales.

In its heyday, 90 trains would pass through the station every day. For residents of Dent it was a lifeline to the outside world but, it has to be said, not an easy one. The village of Dent is four miles away and if you were walking to the station to catch a train you would have been well aware that it was uphill all the way. And I do mean uphill – we’re talking about a one-in-four gradient in some places and a total climb of 600ft. 

Cattle and coal were transported in and out of the station but in 1964 the plug was pulled on freight traffic, and the signal box and loading bay were demolished in 1981. Above the station, snow barriers made of old railway sleepers are still in place but over the years they haven’t always worked. In 1947 and 1963 huge snowdrifts blocked the station for several days but nowadays, although snow is a frequent visitor, the line keeps running.

Trains stop at the station and, if you fancy a walking holiday, there’s no need to bring a car. Simply hop off the train and, just a few steps into the former station building, your holiday begins. The transformation from station to holiday home is remarkable. There’s every mod-con you can think of but the essence of the station is still there. The lounge used to be the waiting room, the entrance hall was the station foyer and still has its original flagstone floor, the kitchen was the ladies’ waiting room and the first bedroom was the booking office – and comes complete with the original window where travellers queued to buy their tickets. Robin Hughes has done a spectacular job in renovating the former station building (today you just buy your tickets on the platform): it’s luxurious but very different.

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