Dartmouth Steam Railway steam trains travel seven miles along the South Devon coast and into the Dart Valley with stations at Goodrington Sands, Churston and the beautiful village of Kingswear which sits opposite the pretty Port of Dartmouth while Dartmouth River Boats operate on the River Dart offering daily scheduled services to the historic town of Totnes (nine miles upriver). 1-hour circular river cruises operate daily from Dartmouth plus regular services to the village of Dittisham.
The famous Round Robin is an award-winning full-day excursion – a steam train journey, ferry crossing, river cruise and bus ride. This ticket is a favourite of all ages where you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery. There are many different options available each day so you can choose the itinerary that suits you best, spending time exploring the towns along the way.
2013 brought a local initiative stirring fond memories in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The River Dart, which for centuries provided a transport highway up and down this Devon waterway, regained the last coal-fired paddle steamer carrying passengers in the UK, the Kingswear Castle. She was built in 1924 at Philip & Son of Dartmouth and returned home after an absence of 47 years.
She runs Dartmouth River Cruises and cruises between Dartmouth and Totnes so that passengers can now journey on her as part of the famous Round Robin excursion. So, this award-winning circular tour has just got even better!
In her heyday the impressive ship was the lifeblood of the river Dart, carrying almost 500 passengers between Totnes and Dartmouth until 1965 when she was purchased by the PSPS (Paddle Steamer Preservation Society) and left the Dart in an era when diesel engines and propellers were favoured over paddles. Her engines date back to 1904.
The Paddle Steamer and their other vessels and the steam train are also available for private hire.
The scenery on this picturesque line is breathtaking – from Paignton along the spectacular English Riviera Geopark coastline, to the picturesque stations at Goodrington and Churston, then on through the wooded slopes of Long Wood bordering the Dart Estuary to Greenway Halt (for the estate of the late Dame Agatha Christie) and on to Kingswear. From spotting dolphins to seals, kingfishers to buzzards, pheasants, herons and egrets, the wildlife are superb. With such a varied range of scenery and wildlife, this is one of the most beautiful heritage steam railway journeys anywhere in Europe.
A short foot passenger ferry (free and optional with your train ticket) takes you across the river Dart to the historic town of Dartmouth; home to the Britannia Royal Naval College, Bayards Cove, Butterwalk and Dartmouth Castle (England’s first Castle to have guns as its main armament). They teamed up with English Heritage to offer you 20% discount on the entry price at Dartmouth Castle! Please show your train ticket, (which must be dated for the same day), when you get to the Castle.
Devon Belle Observation Carriage: this historic coach, built-in 1917 initially as an ambulance vehicle for the London & North Western Railway, has recently undergone a significant refit in our workshop at Queen’s Park Station, Paignton. She will be “relaunched” in the 2018 season to celebrate her 100th year in service!!
The building of railways in South Devon was first under discussion in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Several routes were examined. One route that was considered ran from Exeter, along the coast, through Torquay and the Dart estuary, crossing the South Hams to Plymouth. The path that was chosen and the route that runs today goes through Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Totnes, South Brent and ending at Plymouth. Torquay is now on a branch line from Newton Abbot, which was engineered by Brunel as part of the then South Devon Railway.