A trip along the 6 ½ miles from Paignton where the main line ends down to Kingswear on the opposite bank to Dartmouth on the River Dart, this trip must be one of the most scenic steam train journeys in the country.
From the Paignton end of the line, the steam train can be found next to the main line railway station and bus station (for a truly car-free day out) with regular links to Torquay, Exeter and the rest of the country. On the platform there is the ticket booth and a well-stocked gift shop, selling all kinds of railway related products for all ages.
Despite the relatively short length of the journey, there are many photo opportunities out of the window. As the train leaves Paignton, it looks over the beach at Goodrington with sea views across The English Riviera and then cutting through the cliffs past Broadsands beach and over the viaduct before heading inland toward the River Dart. Cutting through the countryside, the line comes out alongside the river offering views to the naval college and waterfront at Dartmouth before pulling into Kingswear.
The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, who operate the service, offer a range of tickets to complete the day out from ‘round robin’ days out where visitors can enjoy the steam train ride to Kingswear, take a foot passenger ferry to Dartmouth, then a cruise up the River Dart to Totnes, than back round to Paignton on the bus. Alternatively the recently added Steam and Cruise package includes the steam train ride, a foot passenger ticket to Dartmouth, than a 1 hour ferry ride out the River Dart Estuary to Dartmouth Castle then up the river before returning to Dartmouth for the train back to Paignton.
If you are in South Devon in December, the Santa Specials operate on the line and are very popular in the run up to Christmas with Santa on the train, mulled wine for the parents, gifts for children and a pantomime at Kingswear.
For more on the steam train and Santa Specials, visit http://www.dartmouthrailriver.co.uk