Are you planning on taking the Kingswear to Paignton steam railway, near Dartmouth in Devon? This blog post has all the information you need!
Steeped in history and exuding a charming old-world allure, the Dartmouth Steam Railway is a South Devon treasure.
Operated by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, this vintage railway journey is a time capsule that blends the romance of yesteryear’s steam travel with some of the most stunning scenic views South Devon has to offer.
I recently boarded the steam train for a journey into British transportation past and loved not only the nostalgic atmosphere but also the mesmerising views over the water.
I’ve recounted my journey in this blog post, to give you all the information you need to know about taking the Dartmouth Steam Railway!
My Journey on the Kingswear to Paignton steam railway
As I boarded the Kingswear to Paignton steam railway, the distinctive hiss of the Hercules, a magnificent locomotive built in 1920, filled the air.
The deep, resounding whistle marked our departure as the train slowly chugged out of the vintage steam train station.
We first passed over the stunning River Dart, where panoramic views of lush green fields sprawled on either side.
The river, a vibrant blue ribbon, snaked and twisted through the landscape, and the white boats bobbing on the water looked straight out of a postcard.
The town of Dartmouth slipped out of view, and after we passed Greenway Halt (gateway to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s former home – although the train no longer stops here), we ventured through a residential area.
The sounds of everyday life, with residents waving from the bottoms of their gardens, mixed with the rhythmic clatter of the train wheels.
Goodrington Station was also a charming relic of the past, a heritage station contrasting with the modern Splashdown Quaywest Waterpark which had come into view.
Then the landscape transformed again.
We emerged on the sweeping beaches of Torbay, a spectacle of golden sands gently lapped by glistening waves.
The salty breeze from the coast wafted through the open windows.
This route, with its blend of river and coastal scenery, truly captured the essence of the South Devon landscape.
While it was only a 25-minute journey, it was an enthralling glimpse into the evocative days of historic train travel, and it’s definitely one of my favourite activities in Devon.
There are a variety of trains used by the Dartmouth Steam Railway, all of which host a rich collection of railway history.
The railway line recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, but some of the trains hark back to much earlier days.
The trains include:
- 75014 Braveheart: A versatile locomotive from 1951, revived from the scrapyard and used for various traffic duties across Britain.
- 5239 Goliath: Born in 1924 for the purpose of hauling heavy coal trains, it was restored to service in 1978 after years in the scrapyard.
- 2253 Omaha: A product of World War II, this locomotive hauled heavy freight across the UK, Europe, and Africa.
- Devon Belle Observation Car: A peek into post-war leisure travel with panoramic views, a feature introduced by Southern Railway in 1947.
- D6975: This diesel locomotive, part of the Class 37, was designed for utility functions.
- 4555 Warrior: Initiated service in 1924 and has the honor of pulling the official opening train of the Dart Valley Railway in 1969.
- 7827 Lydham Manor: Under refurbishment and set to return in late 2023, this locomotive once hauled the royal train in the late 1950s.
And of course, there’s the 4277 Hercules, the train that I rode on.
Sharing design elements with Goliath, Hercules was restored after a gruelling 22 years in the Barry scrapyard.
It has 4′ 7½” driving wheels, an impressive length of 40′ 5″, and an incredible weight of 82 tons.
The locomotive, with its manually opening doors and faded seats, perfectly encapsulated the nostalgia of journeys long gone, and yet, delivered an unforgettable experience for its modern travellers.
How to Book Tickets
Booking your nostalgic journey on the Dartmouth Steam Railway is straightforward.
Had a last-minute change of plans?
Tickets can be changed, free of cost, provided there is space – just head to the ticket office and enquire.
My ticket was originally for the 17:15 train, but I was able to change it to the 16:40 for no extra cost.
The steam train runs regularly between Kingswear and Paignton.
However, the exact timings may vary based on the season.
Trains run most frequently in the summer months, with a more reduced timetable in spring and autumn and a limited timetable in winter.
Refer to the official timetable for the most up-to-date information.
How to Get to Kingswear
It’s fairly easy to get to Kingswear to take the steam railway.
You can take the 120 bus from Paignton to Kingswear, or book the return steam train trip from Paignton.
Alternatively, take a river cruise from Totnes to Dartmouth and then hop on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company’s water taxi.
Or, there’s a Round Robin ticket option – more on that below!
Round Robin Ticket Option
The Round Robin ticket option includes the following:
- the steam train ride from Kingswear to Paignton
- a bus trip from Paignton to Totnes
- the Totnes to Dartmouth river cruise
- the Dartmouth to Kingswear ferry
So, you can start and end in Paignton, Totnes, Kingswear or Dartmouth, and stop in any of these towns en route.
Kingswear is a small village, but it’s an integral station to the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company.
Aside from the steam train experience, it’s worth taking the time to wander up the hill for a bird’s-eye view of the train and the River Dart.
You could also check out National Trust properties Greenway and Coleton Fishacre or hike on the South West Coast Path to Brixham.
Paignton, the terminus of my steam train journey, is a busy holiday town.
It’s not my favourite place in Devon, but it does have a huge range of attractions, a busy seafront and pier and beautiful surrounding beaches.
I bypassed one of these, Goodrington Sands which is home to Splashdown Quaywest Waterpark, on my steam train journey.
Are you ready to hop on the Dartmouth Steam Railway?
The Dartmouth Steam Railway experience is an endearing blend of history, nostalgia, and natural beauty, making it an unmissable experience for anyone visiting South Devon.
It’s a hark back to nostalgic railway days, with vintage decor and its signature puffing steam sound, making it a must-do for any railway aficionado!