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Moor Train Challenge

Moor Train Challenge

Back in 1955 three young National Service men were travelling from Yelverton to Princetown on the train which was nearing the remote stop of  Ingra Tor Halt. Back then as far as train halts went this was really remote, so much so the following has been noted: “The loneliness and silence of the moor is broken only by the bird calls and the steady munching of grazing cattle and sheep.”, Kingdom, p.29.

Maybe the solitude was too much for the three servicemen who decided to pass the time away in a more energetic way. Presumably they knew that the next stop after Ingra Tor Halt was king Tor Halt, which according to my Memory Map is a distance of 4.32 kilometres away. So they set themselves a challenge to jump the train and Ingra Tor Halt and run across the moor and hop back on at King Tor Halt. Again, assuming they took the same route as a crow would fly this was a distance of 1.36 kilometres.  As can be seen from the profile below most of this jaunt was a descent of some 100 metres follow by a gentle ascent.

So the intrepid three jumped the train and set off at a blistering north easterly pace towards King Tor Halt. However, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, unfortunately the train’s fireman saw what was occurring  and promptly threw some more logs on the fire. The train sped up and rattled along at a blistering pace, so blistering that a scorching four minutes were cut off its normal journey time. This however was not enough to outrun two of the three servicemen. The triumphant duo dashed into King Tor halt accompanied by thundering applause from fellow passengers. No doubt puffing frantically just as the losing train was doing.

Moor Train Challenge

Fast forward to 2014 when Michael Heaton the son of one of the three servicemen intends to recreate the feat in an effort to raise money for the Bowel and Cancer Research and International Child Campaign Charities. One might wonder how this is possible since the trains and railway line has long disappeared? Fear not, a local farmer has volunteered himself and his trusty Landrover to play the part of the train. The vehicle will trundle down the disused railway line at an average speed of 18 miles per hour which will replicate the famous journey of 1955. Meanwhile Mr. Heaton and two accomplices will hurtle off over the moor in an effort to beat the Landrover. This event will take place on August the 9th after which this page will be updated with the result. I am sure that the runners would appreciate any encouragement on the day should you be in the locality.

On the 9th of August 2014 the four runners re-enacted the race with the help of Barry Landick’s Landrover and as before actually won the race as verified by two independent witnesses.

Moor Train Challenge

Kingdom, A. R. 1991 The Yelverton to Princetown Railway. Liverton: Forest Publishing.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

One comment

  1. Most amusing story about the runners racing the train. However, your “Cross Moor Profile” map is back to front. Ingra Tor was the lower station of the two, the railway line being on a continuous up gradient.

    In 1955 (as now) a race in the downward direction would have been much easier, as the train would have been restricted by the line speed limit irrespective of whether it was going uphill or down (and given the steep gradient of the line (2.5%) it was imperative to stick to the speed limit in order to avoid a runaway).

    Are you quite certain the 1955 runners ran uphill not down? After all, at least one of them must have known the line well (to be aware of the enormous detour the line takes round King Tor). And in this case they would surely have taken the easier option (the glory would have been the same).

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