Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Rail in the UK Tour 24 June 2023


What a glorious day for us today. The weather was excellent, and we were able to visit two (2) very good and professionally run Heritage Railway Sites. Dartmouth Heritage Railway and South Devon Heritage Railway. As well as the railways, we travelled through some beautiful typically English countryside with the appropriate myriad of hedges. The hedges closing in on the roads add to the ambiance of one's trip.

This year is the 50th Anniversary year of the privately owned steam trains running between Paignton in the heart of Torbay and Kingswear, close to the mouth of the beautiful River Dart and opposite to Dartmouth. The railway to Kingswear opened in 1864. Unlike many Heritage railways, it never closed, only changed owning operators. It opened as the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway and then transferred to the South Devon Railway, The Great Western Railway, British Railway and then, the new Torboy Steam Railway. In 2009 it was renamed to The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company to incorporate the fleet of boats offering cruises on the River Dart. Today, since 2012 they have even been running Britain's only remaining Coal fired paddle steamer on the River Dart.

There is much history here. Captain James Cook set sail from here on his quest to find the great south land and James Davis of Pilgrim's fame also left here on his way to Colonize North America. Arriving at Kingswear, we board the ferry to Dartmouth where we had a bite to eat and a look around the town before again boarding the ferry to return. We were the only passengers on the return ferry as most were still remaining at Dartmouth, but, we had more to see and another Heritage Railway to visit.

Arriving at Kingswear we headed off to find our coach and proceeded, with much singing to a DVD that Michael had bought travellng through wonderful many hedged roads. We arrived at the Buckfastleigh Station a couple of minutes late and missed the 1400 train, however, we decided to wait till it arrived back from its return run to Toynes Riverside. We had lunch and awaited the return of the train. We waited the hour and boarded as soon as the train arrived. A great 18 kilometre round trip was experienced and the journey took us back in time along the valley of the Dart through some of Devon's most beautiful countryside, rich in wildlife, will only be part of our day here.

We arrived back at the Abbey, for a drink and chat before dinner. Tom, who had been left at the hotel to rest due to a little cold, joined us and looked much better than he did in the morning. Dinner was superb and the selection of courses by the Chef was second to none. Soup, Smoked Salmon and Thai Fishcake Starters set a good pace ably supported by Ronni and Joe in their combined roles as waitress, Drink waiter and more. Ronni and Joe really kept the pace going and help us to thoroughly enjoy our last evening here at Northgate Hotel which is adjacent to Buckfast Abbey.

Tomorrow, West Somerset Heritage Railway.

Graham Fleeton.


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