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Okehampton

The Inland Route for the DAL (Dawlish Avoiding Line): having a look at the old ordnance survey map (1982) for ‘Okehampton and North Dartmoor’ one finds the markings for the disused railway line that used to run inland in order to avoid Dawlish and the seaside route between Exeter and Plymouth. According to the Ordnance Survey one can see a route that used to run from Exeter using the current Barnstaple line. Just after Crediton there is a branch line at Colebrooke taking this we pass by North Tawton, Okehampton go past Meldon (and the Meldon quarry). From there the train ran by scenic Lydford and of course close to Lydford Gorge then via North Brentor and Tavistock to join what is now the Gunnislake branch line at Bere Alston to take one into Plymouth. We have thus avoided the sea entirely and gone via scenic North Dartmoor instead.

Here is a poem for Okehampton and the travel there now: On Sundays there is special train that runs on the Okehampton line in the summer.

THE LAST BUS ‘342’ TO OKEHAMPTON STATION

Wide man from Plymouth
Carries black recyclable bag with lunch
To visit Castle Drogo
Seated on a cliff for an hour and half September Sunday.

Black dog of grey muzzle faced
Gentled with age
Wonders with eyes
Of graying owner, slower

Little, grey horse
Shakes his head and waits
While chestnut, star studded friend
And blanketed black hunter led for Sunday Dartmoor ride.

Old, grey man
Bent waits on Widecombe
For the last but one bus
For Newton Abbot, the world and winter

Loading sheep
Sunday morning ten
Collie waits, crouched
Herds sheep to corner

Horse happy
Tail swinging
Urged to canter
By yellow coated rider on moor side.

Green of the most verdant green
Ferns, the larges
Streams overhang and
Roaring of white water rocks.
Seen from Train.

(Taken from a poetry collection entitled ‘Great Western: London Paddington’ by Lynne Pearl)