There’s something magical about steam trains. They offer a glimpse of a bygone age that seems inherently romantic. Unlike many modern trains, steam trains seem to have a personality and character; they’re almost living organisms.
If you love the sight of vintage carriages, the sound of the whistle, the smell of smoke drifting past the window, and the impressive power of steam trains thundering along, come to South Devon. We have a number of exciting train attractions for steam train lovers of all ages.
South Devon Railway
All aboard for a traditional, fun family day out on the South Devon Railway(SDR)! Hop on a gorgeous old steam train, settle down in a restored heritage carriage, and look out the window in comfort as you head along the picturesque River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes.
There’s plenty to explore at both ends of the track, with a fascinating museum and workshop at Buckfastleigh and a unique railway station at Totnes. Watch out for special days, as Thomas the Tank Engine sometimes makes a surprise visit and Santa loves his steam train ride at Christmas!
Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company
Can’t decide which mode of classic transport you prefer? Don’t worry, the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company has it covered!
Take a trip around the glorious South Devon coast on the Round Robin tour. This popular excursion includes a seven-mile steam train ride, where you puff your way between Paignton and Kingswear through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Then hop on a classic bus back to Totnes, before winding your way down a river cruise, and hopping on a ferry back to your starting point. What an adventure!
Devon Railway Centre
Unlimited train rides? It sounds too good to be true, but the Devon Railway Centre offers just that. There are two railway lines to explore: a narrow gauge and a mini gauge line. Both offer lots of opportunities for you to get involved, with kids invited to clip the tickets and wave the flag to signal the start of the train rides.
If you fancy a break from all that train tripping, check out the impressive model railway lines where you control the trains with the press of a button, wander round the model villages, or head to one of two fun-filled play areas.
Steam Trains Passing Dawlish Warren
Finally, if you love the thrill of watching a steam train thundering along, there are a number of trains that pass right by Dawlish Warren.
The Torbay Express follows the Great Western Railway across the Somerset Levels and around the Devon coastline on certain days of the year. It passes Dawlish Warren mid-morning and returns mid-afternoon, giving you the opportunity to capture some spectacular pictures.
Steam Dreams runs a number of tours on the Cathedrals Express to various cathedral cities around the country. The London to Paignton and Dartmouth route passes Dawlish Warren several times a month throughout the summer, giving you plenty of opportunity to marvel as it chugs along the coast.
The Royal Duchy runs from Bristol Temple Meads to Devon and Cornwall, cutting an impressive sight as it runs beside the sea at Dawlish. Dates are on the Railway Touring Company website.