A day out on the South Devon Railway Part 1 – Buckfastleigh

The South Devon Railway runs along a very picturesque part of the country and is a very enjoyable ride.  It has many points of interest and tourist attractions either near or along the line.  I have summarised the journey in a previous post (click here), but having had a ride on the line last Sunday, I thought it would be a good to illustrate it further with the addition of a few things to be seen en-route, especially useful for those looking for extra excuses for visiting the line!  Last Sunday it was the line’s Military Weekend which I covered in Fridays post.

Starting from Buckfastleigh, there is plenty to see nearby.  As can be seen at the station sign, one of these is Buckfast Abbey, a fully working monastery (above.)  At peak times a bus service runs here from Buckfastleigh station.

Just within the scope of this article is Pennywell Farm – a great experience for young children and/or those who love a hands-on experience!   Made famous by its miniature pigs, (above) Pennywell Farm is a 5-10 minute drive from Buckfastleigh station.

Last but by no means least is the Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary (above and below), located on the same site as the Buckfastleigh station and sharing its car park.  Combination tickets can be purchased for a trip on the railway and also for entry to this and the Rare Breeds Farm in Totnes.

Buckfastleigh, the railway’s headquarters has a lot to see on the station site – a museum, a picnic area, miniature railway, model shop, model railway, cafe and engine sheds.

Expressway Models is located adjacent to the cafe and as well as being a large well-stocked model shop is home to a large model railway (see pictures (2 above and 2 below.)

Buckfastleigh’s museum has been mentioned in a previous post.  It is home to a two steam engine’s, one being the last surviving broad gauge locomotive, number 151 Tiny (below.)

The museum is also home to locomotive number 1 Ashley (below) and a model layout of Ashburton station – the former terminus of the railway (second picture below.)

Buckfastleigh is also home to the line’s fleet of locomotives and there are plenty of them to see as you walk around the yard!  You can also have a go at operating a signal box, albeit one that is not connected to the railway (thankfully!)  My wife and I had a look in the signal box where a very friendly lady showed us the ropes.

One of the locomotives to be seen was 4920 Dumbleton Hall, which was in the exact same spot as when I saw it last in 2010.  It is pictured above.  Sadly around £250,000 to £300,000 is needed to get her running again.  Click here to see pictures of her in action in the 1990’s.

Other locomotives seen include 1926 Pecket Tank class R4 “Lady Angela” (above and prairie tank class 4575 5526 (below.)

Also, a couple of pictures for Diesel fans, class 25 D7612 above and class 37 D6737 with Class 20 D8110 below.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures of the miniature railway in operation, but that is yet another attraction to see!  Buckfastleigh is an attraction in its own right, but there is more to come as I’ve yet to describe any of the journey yet!

Before leaving Buckfastleigh for Staverton, you can have one more good look at the sidings and loco yard.

My advise to travellers is to sit on the right-hand side of the carriages (when facing the direction of travel towards Totnes) as these have simply beautiful views of the River Dart (below.)  That said, both sides have lovely scenery, so do not be disheartened if you can find a seat on that side!  If you are on the left, be sure to catch a glimpse of the Otter Sanctuary as you depart Buckfastleigh.

On busy days when two trains are in operation, the train will wait before Staverton to allow the train to pass.  Staverton station has just one platform, so only one train at a time can wait.  To catch a glimpse of the passing train, you will need to look out of the right hand side (below.)

Click here to continue the journey along the line from Staverton to Totnes Littlehempston station.