We have to take chances when they arise, and Monday was a great example. A combination of being quiet the night before, so only having one room for breakfast, and nobody due to check in later that day, meant we could go out for the day. There’s always something to be done, but you have to make the most of these opportunities when they come up. We’ve been talking about going on the Dartmouth Steam Railway again for some time, so now was the ideal opportunity.
A few clicks on their website and we’d booked tickets for the steam train and also a Dartmouth River Cruise. I thought I’d break down the day below so you can see the different elements easily and find more information on the bits you’re most interested in or just read the whole blog:
Main line train to Paignton
The steam railway begins at Paignton so you need to travel there first. It’s only a ten minute drive and you can park very nearby, but we were planning to have a drink in Dartmouth so the easier way to travel was by regular train. Torre Station is only an eight minute walk (at the top of Avenue Road) so we purchased tickets on line and Julian had them sent to his phone (Apple wallet) so it was really easy on arrival at the station. Trains go regularly and it’s only two stops (the first is Torquay Station which is 12 minutes walk from us). You can even see The 25 from the train!
When you arrive in Paignton, you cross to the opposite platform over the bridge, walk out onto the road and you’re already at the entrance to the steam railway station as they’re next to each other.
Steam train to Kingswear
The steam train must have one of the best views of any train journey in the country. For most of the journey, the rail line runs along the edge of the coast next to the South West Coast Path so the views are of the sea and looking down into some of the English Riviera’s stunning little coves, over pretty painted beach huts and past tourism hotspots like the Splashdown Water Park (the largest outdoor water park in the UK) and the Greenway Halt where Agatha Christie would have alighted for her house at Greenway, now run by the National Trust.
Nearer to Dartmouth, the train talks you along the River Dart, again with spectacular views across the water to Dartmouth but on the other side of the train now. The tracks continue along a viaduct which should have been the beginnings of a bridge over the River Dart to Dartmouth’s train station, however the owners of the Greenway Estate at the time would not allow the bridge across their land so they were forced to keep on the same side of the river and end at Kingswear Station instead. The line from Torquay was completed in 1864 and had taken seven years to construct.
Foot Passenger Ferry to Dartmouth
Once you get off the steam train in Kingswear, you’ll find the terminal for the foot passenger ferry literally next door. They go around every 15 minutes so you never need to wait long. Your train ticket includes the cost of the ferry if you’ve booked the river cruise. It’s only taking you across the river so you’re in Dartmouth in a matter of minutes. If you’re driving instead of taking the train, you can get a car ferry too but parking in Dartmouth can be difficult so the train is definitely the best option. Interesting fact - as you alight the other side, you'll notice was would have been Dartmouth train station ticket office. It was built before they found out the viaduct was not allowed to cross the river so is now a restaurant.
Circular River Cruise
The other end of the pontoon to where the ferry drops you off is where you get on the boat for the river cruise. We had booked for the next one so didn’t have very long to wait and had a quick look round the gardens near the dock beforehand.
The cruise takes you up past the naval college, and Agatha Christie’s Greenway house and the famous boathouse where “Dead Man’s Folly” was set. It then takes you past Dartmouth out towards the sea where, at the entrance to the port, you have Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle once used to defend the port and the country. We have visited Dartmouth Castle in the past and can recommend it. You can either walk or take a small boat to it.
Dartmouth & Rockfish
Once back on dry land, we went to meet friends for lunch at Rockfish which is literally opposite where the boat docks. This is part of the Mitch Tonks chain and we also have a branch here in Torquay and also one in Brixham selling beautifully cooked fresh fish, caught that day into Brixham, and thoroughly recommended. If you fancy something more of a treat, you could try The Angel which is a fine dining restaurant a few doors down in a listed building, which we also love, and has Elly Wentworth as its Executive Chef.
Dartmouth has some interesting little shops and art galleries to explore as well as a museum and Dartmouth Castle so we spent a couple of hours wandering round, interspersed with a G&T and an ice cream!
For our return journey we basically reversed everything but this time we paid an extra £3 and sat in the observation carriage at the front (you can't pre-book this). You get to see the steam engine right in front of you and due to the massive glass wraparound windows you can really make the most of the views on both sides.
To book tickets and for more information please go to: