Monday, 29 May 2017

A morning at the South Devon Railway - Buckfastleigh

We already rode on the steam railway from Paignton to Kingswear earlier this year and yesterday we visited another one, the South Devon Railway which runs from Buckfastleigh to Totnes. The Buckfastleigh end is less than a half hour walk from our current campsite and we had thought about getting the train to Totnes. The £15 return trip ticket price (£14 for Dave) put us off though so we just visited the restored station instead. Including exploring the museum, gardens and Riverwalk took us a good couple of hours so we wer glad we hadn't rushed straight onto the train and away!

South Devon Railway was hosting a special 1960s themed weekend, part of which was their Buckstock Festival. We didn't have tickets for that, of course, but could hear a live band pumping out hits of the era and got to admire a couple of vintage buses and a trio of mod scooters parked out the front. Two displayed Torbay Mods Scooter Club stickers and the three looked fab as they zoomed past us later in the day.

If you visit Buckfastleigh station, make sure to take a walk around the little museum which has a wealth of artefacts relating to the line's history. We were lucky to get into conversation with the man operating an incredibly detailed model of Ashburton station as it was in the early 1930s. We learned about how busy the route had been with goods trains as well as passenger trains, and the thriving industries that no longer exist. Other exhibits include signage, paintings, photographs and small engines. There were free range eggs for sale there too! We didn't buy eggs, but did take advantage of the homemade cake and pie stall nearby!

One of the Moor Otters 
Crossing over the footbridge gives a great overview of the station, almost making it feel like a model itself! Just on the other side at the moment is a distinctive gold-coloured sculpture of an otter which is being displayed as part of The Moor Otters fundraising campaign. Auratus by Paul Bursnall is one of 100 decorated otters that are being displayed around Dartmoor gateway towns and in other surprise locations. Anyone spotting at least twenty of them can enter a competition to win prizes including cream teas, meals and hotel stays. Further details are on the Moor Otters website. Afterwards the otters will be auctioned to raise funds for vital Dartmoor conservation work.

We found bigger model trains on the garden railway loop, one puffing steam gave us a whistle as it passed by. I spotted another sculpture of a large dragonfly as we made our way back and headed towards the Riverwalk which is a lovely tranquil space on the edge of South Devon Railway's land. We thought we would be able to return to the road and walk home from here, but unfortunately the Riverwalk peters out into private access gardens so we had to retrace our steps - we did get double the tranquillity though.

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