Going Back in Time with South Devon Steam Railway

on July 17, 2016

Getting there: The easiest way to get to the steam railway is … by modern railway! We took the train from Plymouth to Totnes (£6 day return for student or £10 non-student), and from the Totnes station it’s just a short 5-10 minute well-signposted walk to the steam railway!

Tickets & times: We found the steam railway website’s timetable to be extremely confusing, so just got an early train into Totnes and hoped for the best! On arrival we found trains depart 11:30, 1, 3, and 4:30 from Totnes to Buckfastleigh. The last train returning from Buckfastleigh  is at 4pm. We got on the earliest train to Buckfastleigh (the journey is 30 minutes) and found that this doesn’t really give you much time on the other end (especially as ours was delayed)!! Most people actually don’t even leave the station at the other end.

Tickets are £14 return for adults, or £19.60 including tickets to the Rare Breeds Farm at the Totnes station (which we did!), or £20.30 including tickets to the Butterfly and Otter Sanctuary at the Buckfastleigh station, or £24.70 for all three!

Totnes Station

The Totnes Steam Railway station is just a little beyond the main station, after a walk through the woods and over the River Dart.  It’s very old-timey with vintage signs and an old train car that’s been transformed into a museum! 

The Journey

The train is slow and a tiny bit rickety as it pumps along the railway. Outside there are lush trees and fields with cattle grazing, and twice it crosses by the River Dart, where you can see people walking their dogs or waving to the train. It’s a beautiful 30 minute journey, complete with vintage velvet train seats and even a car with compartment seating a la Harry Potter (was wondering when my chocolate frog and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans trolley would come along). The best is when the whistle blows and puffs of steam whip back alongside the train windows.

Buckfastleigh Station

The Buckfastleigh station is gorgeous and quaint, we spent some time here in the café sipping on cappuccinos. Lots of people spend the whole day just at the station – there are some model trains, and of course the otter and butterfly exhibit! However we had other plans…


Buckfast Abbey

Trust my mother who just had knee surgery to opt for the farthest away sight to see! About a 20-30 minute walk from the Buckfastleigh steam railway station is this unbelievable and out of the way abbey. It’s worth the hike to get to the abbey, (if my mom could do it with her cane then so can you!), and much less of a “tourist trap” than sticking around the Buckfastleigh station.

The abbey, which is maintained by Catholic Benedictine monks (rather unusual not to be Anglican here in the UK!), is free to enter. There are also lovely gardens (my favorite was the kitchen/poisonous garden) and a shop full of products produced by monks all over the world!


Totnes Rare Breeds Farm

On the way back to the Totnes station we had just enough time to stop at the Rare Breeds Farm before it shut for the day. The breeds actually didn’t seem as “rare” as I thought hey would – chipmunks are cute but mostly considered a nuisance where I’m from. Same goes for owls, goats, chickens, etc… Not what I would call “rare” but still fun to pet and play with nevertheless! My favorite part was petting Flitwick the owl.


My mom and I had such a lovely day in Totnes and Buckfastleigh. I only wish we’d had more time with each attraction. It was quite touristy, but at the same time it was funny and cute and just overall a nice, activity filled day!
Sarah xx

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  • this train ride is wonderful! and it’s cheap:)

  • Gosh, that abbey is something else. Definitely worth the walk, it seems! I would love travelling on this steam railway. We last went on one on the Isle of Wight and that was fun.

    • It is for sure, I’m really happy we didn’t end up staying at the station all day like seemingly everyone else!

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