A Review Of The South Devon Railway

We have just returned from our annual Feb half term holiday down south where we do two days visiting my bother and then travel over to Devon to spend a week near my Nanna. Whilst on our break we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with Visit South Devon once again and this time they invited us to take a trip to the South Devon Railway.

What s the South Devon Railway?

The South Devon Railway is an award winning seven mile former Great Western Railway branch line, built in 1872, which runs along the stunning valley of the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes offering you the opportunity to travel this stretch of the countryside by steam train. It stops not just at Buckfastleigh and Totness but also at Staverton and you can get on and off at any of these stations, however we were given the handy hint that there is ample free parking at Buckfastleigh and not at the other two stations, making it the perfect  starting point for our journey.

Our South Devon Railway review

When we arrived at Buckfastleigh as well as the ample free parking we also noticed that there were a few things to look at including a second hand book shop, some old trains, a coffee shop and on the platform itself is a lovely little museum that is included in your ticket price. The museum allows you to explore some old trains and pieces of machinery and has some hands on activities for the kids to enjoy whilst you wait for the train. These extras are so good that I would actually recommend you arrive a little early to allow time to explore them, or remember to visit when you return.

south devon railway

The Buckfastleigh train station itself is only small and oldie worldie and all the staff we met were are an absolute delight. So helpful and informative and clearly loving what they do, which is great especially as the majority of the staff you see will be volunteers.

The train is an old steam engine, and the carriages are old fashioned too. They are comfy and quaint and some carriages have little curtains that reminded us of trains from old films and are not like the trains we have to today so is a great experience for children to see the comparisons.

We travelled from Buckfastleigh to Totnes which took 30 minutes. The route goes past  the most picturesque countryside views. There is lots of greenery, fields, a goblin and some of elves (yes a goblin and elves) to one side and the River Dart, cows and more beautiful greenery to the other. It is definitely worth swapping sides for the return journey so you get to take in both views.

South devon railway

We decided to turn our train ride into a day out but of course you can choose to stay on board and return to Buckfastleigh on the very next train if you prefer. We, however, decided to departed at Totnes and walked into the town to explorer.


Totnes is a lovely little town centre with a high street full of shops, cafes and pubs which will easily help you pass the time. We also chose to stop for lunch at The Dartmouth Inn where the food was delicious and the portions sizes incredible, especially their childen’s meals. So if you do decide to stop for lunch head to this place as you won’t be disappointed. After lunch we had a little walk down by the river and then stopped at the park on the way back to the train station ready to return on the last train of the day.

There is also a castle in Totnes that we were hoping to visit but unfortunately it was closed. However,  if you are planning on staying in Totnes for the day I would suggest you check the castle opening times as this would make for a lovely addition to your day out.

The return train journey

Our return journey was just as beautiful as our out first journey and we also got talking to a member of staff who was just hysterical and was telling us all about the local history and some recent news items, making the journey even more memorable.

Overall all four generations of our family had a wonderful day out with the South Devon Railway. It is without a doubt a real family pleaser of a trip, oh and you can even buy a ticket for the dog too!

Top Tip

There is a food and drink cart on board the train as well as some memorabilia for sale so if you think you might like to purchase anything make sure you have cash on you as they do not accept cards.

Depending on the time of year you visit will depend on the regularity of the trains so be sure to check on line before you book but for us we found that we had ample time between trains to enjoy exploring a new place and I would highly recommend this as a holiday activity if you are in the area.

South devon railway

If you are staying close by then be sure to check out our other recommendations for things to do near Paignton too and if you haven’t yet booked your accommodation then check out these lodges with hot tubs.

(We were given complementary tickets in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own).