A Right Royal Train Ride

Local people and holiday visitors alike are being encouraged to take their own “Royal” low-cost steam train ride with the South Devon Railway (SDR) this coming week on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May and help celebrate the nation’s forthcoming Royal Wedding with a discounted railtrip along the beautiful Dart Valley, which itself has its very own private and secret wartime connection with the Royal Family (see below).

On Friday 18th May, which will be Prince Harry’s last day as a single man, visitors can travel on the scenic, seven-mile line between Buckfastleigh and Totnes all day for the price of just a SINGLE ticket.

And on Saturday 19th May for the actual Royal Wedding day, visitors can have two tickets for the price of just one. The offer only applies to full price round trip fares. And, if the two tickets chosen are not the same price, you pay for the most expensive one and get the cheaper one free e.g. an adult and a child will travel for £15 which is the adult fare, so the child goes free.

The offer is available on line, or on-the-day at our booking offices.

(There are no further reductions on already discounted fares, such as Family and joint tickets with the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and Dartmoor Otters & Buckfast Butterflies.)

THE SOUTH DEVON RAILWAY’S ‘ROYAL MILE’ – A CONNECTION WITH THE PAST!

Between the South Devon Railway’s (SDR) Staverton and Totnes Riverside stations, the river Dart runs very close to the scenic line as the line enters a series of bends.

At one point is a shallow cutting and it is here that, during the last war (World War II), an air raid shelter was dug into the embankment on the left hand side, close to a place now called Woodville by railway folk.

This out-of-the-way shelter was there to protect His Majesty King George VI on his visits to the West Country.

The lower part of the secluded SDR branch line, connected at Totnes to one of the two main rail routes to the West, was an ideal place to hide a train secretly and quietly, being hardly overlooked at all.

So, it was used to stable the Royal Train overnight so that the Royal passengers could then get a peaceful night’s sleep but, in case of a German air raid attack, precautionary measures were taken, such as building the shelter.

Thankfully, they were never used but, on a visit in 1941, the King missed a major air raid in nearby Plymouth by a mere 24 hours. It’s also believed that General Eisenhower’s private train was stabled down there prior to D-Day.

The line is very close indeed to the River Dart, so it is bounded by water on one side and a steep rock cliff
topped by a wood, known to the locals as Parsonage Wood.

On the opposite bank can be seen the grounds of Dartington Hall whose buildings might just be seen amongst the trees.

After passing an old platelayers’ hut and a private waterworks road crossing, the next mile of track is quite straight and is well known as the ‘Royal Mile’ because it was also used as the peacetime stabling point for the Royal Train’s overnight stops when the Royal family were either visiting the area or the nearby Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth!

And, the SDR is hosting another popular show over the May Bank Holiday weekend with its Spring Beer Festival event.

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