New owner for Dent Station - the highest in England - after a year on the market

The Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Railway have confirmed that they have completed the purchase of the highest station on the line.

Dent Station is one of the unstaffed stops on the famous Settle to Carlisle line
Dent Station is one of the unstaffed stops on the famous Settle to Carlisle line

Dent Station has been on the market since June 2019, when previous owner Robin Hughes, who converted the Grade II-listed station buildings into a holiday let, put the property up for sale.

It was listed with a guide price of £395,000. although the Friends group have not disclosed how much they have paid for the station house, which dates back to 1877.

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They intend to continue to market it as holiday accommodation and have been praised for their decision by the group's president, former politician-turned-railway TV presenter Michael Portillo, who once stayed in a snow cottage nearby.

The holiday let retains many original railway features

At 1,200ft above sea level and four miles from the village of Dent itself thanks to a quirk in Victorian railway bureaucracy, it is the highest mainline halt in England.

Dent is notorious for its harsh winter conditions, and it is susceptible to huge snow drifts. Huts were constructed nearby to accommodate snow-clearing gangs, and there are also fences to prevent drifts reaching the track.

Although the station is still operational, the ticket office and waiting rooms were converted into a private home in 1986 after being sold by British Rail when a number of stations along the line were shut. Robin Hughes bought the building in 2006 and renovated it.

It also housed the booking hall and lavatories, but low passenger demand led to the station's closure in 1970. The same year it went onto the market, stopping trains were reinstated following a campaign to keep the line open. As the station is not staffed, passengers have to buy tickets on board.

Dent endures harsh winters with heavy snowfall

There are eight northbound and six southbound services on weekdays and six each way on Sundays, plus occasional visits from steam locomotives hauling special heritage excursions over the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.

Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Railway chair Paul Brown said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for FoSCL to take ownership of England’s highest station to preserve and maintain it, for all to appreciate.

"It is a great addition to the heritage property portfolio held by the voluntary bodies supporting the Settle-Carlisle Line and is made possible through the generosity of our members and former members who have bequeathed legacies to safeguard the future of one Britain’s most famously remote and historic railway buildings.”

President and railway historian Michael Portillo added: "I am delighted that, thanks to legacies from its members, FoSCL has been able to buy the lovely Dent Station. I recall staying in a snow cottage at the station during the filming of Great British Railway Journeys, which brought home to me how susceptible the line is at Dent to drifting in winter.

"FoSCL benefits from an award-winning restoration, and will assume the responsibility for keeping it looking beautiful, the station being one of the great assets of the line.”

The volunteers will benefit from inheriting a property that has been fully modernised by Mr Hughes while also retaining many of its original features. Underfloor heating has been installed, and there is a Victorian waiting pew, Thomas Crapper toilets, cast iron radiators, flagged floors and period signage and a clock.

It is ten miles from Hawes, the nearest town, and half a mile from the nearest village, Cowgill.

Mr Hughes previously boasted that the new owner would be able to catch the 7am train south from the platform outside their front door and be in London by 11am.

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