The South Devon Railway recreates the days between the 1930s and 1960s as it takes you on a trip back in time on a traditional Great Western Railway branch line running from Buckfastleigh and Totnes Riverside.
For most of the line’s seven mile length, it hugs the River Dart offering beautiful, tranquil views of one of Devon’s most scenic valleys, with hardly a road in sight and little evidence of habitation.
There is plenty to see on your journey as the railway takes you through lush farm land, past orchards and fields before skirting the picturesque village of Staverton, with its 13th century church, just visible through the trees, and old water mill, rising above the water meadows.
Keep a look out too for wildlife, from birds of prey, which abound along the valley, to, if you are very lucky, the blue flash of a kingfisher as it darts along the river.
The branch was opened on 1st May 1872. Unfortunately the line never made a profit and had a quiet life, mainly being used for goods traffic, such as coal, wool, cider and agricultural goods, and serving the local population. In November 1958, the line closed to passengers, freight continuing until 1962.
A group of businessmen announced their intention to run the line, to be named the Dart Valley Railway, as a tourist line and in 1965 the first rolling stock arrived. Services between Buckfastleigh and Totnes started in 1969. In 1971, the line from Buckfastleigh to Ashburton was lost to the widening of the A38.
In 1991, the line was taken over by a registered charity, the South Devon Railway Trust and renamed the South Devon Railway.