Dartmouth Steam Railway & Riverboat Round Trip

During our first couple of days we toured the local coastline and Dartmoor, then on the Tuesday and Wednesday we enjoyed a small family reunion, meeting with a couple of Judi’s cousins. One lives a few miles away in Bovey Tracey, while the other is from Weston-Super-Mare. We all met at our condo for a re-union and dinner on Tuesday, then we headed to Bovey Tracey the following day.

Thursday we completed a round robin trip with the Dartmouth Steam Train and Riverboat Company, that included a steam train, river cruise and bus.

The round trip includes many modes of transport and visits Paignton, Kingswear, Dartmouth and Totnes. To view details of the round trip select here.

Round trip journey:

  • Steam Train – Paignton to Kingswear
  • Ferry – Kingswear to Dartmouth
  • Cruise – Dartmouth to Totnes
  • Bus – Totnes to Paignton

Our day started with a 10 mile drive to Paignton, parking for the day at a multi-storey lot a couple of blocks from the train station. After a short walk, we headed to the ticket office, purchasing tickets for the round robin – costs are UKP 26.50 (adult) or UKP 25.00 (senior 60+). You must select your direction of travel (train or bus first) and time for the river cruise.

Paignton train station platform

We elected to start with the train, so headed out to the platform, where the train and coaches were already in the station. Getting Judi seated in one of the coaches, I headed up to the front of the train to check out the engine.

Our steam train with steam up

Departing Paignton, we headed through town and down the coast, passing Goodrington Beach, with its long line of beach huts.

Goodrington Beach – Paignton

From the above beach, we crossed the headland before a short stop at Greenway Halt, where a number of passengers disembarked. We then followed the River Dart to Kingswear, which was the final station.

Steam engine at Kingswear heading to opposite end of coaches for departure

Disembarking the train, we walked to the end of the platform, where we caught the small ferry across the River Dart to Dartmouth.

From the ferry queue looking across to Dartmouth

In addition to the small tug and barge for cars, they also had a larger car ferry, a short distance up river, so they had a total of 3 ferries.

Docking at Dartmouth looking back across to Kingswear

Disembarking the ferry, we wandered along the waterfront and throughout the town, when we heard the steam train’s whistle, as it commenced the return to Paignton.

Kingswear Marina with steam train returning to Paignton

Wandering through town, we stopped first at the Visitor Information Centre, which also houses the Thomas Newcomen Engine. It has a working model of the steam engine and a TV that runs a film on a continuous loop. Born in Dartmouth, Newcomen developed the first practical steam engine in 1712.

Our next stop was the Dartmouth Museum, which is easy to miss, as it is a single door leading to a set of stairs. While fairly small, the museum is packed with displays and information, with a number of films on the Allied Landing preparations. Shortly after departing the museum the heavens opened, so we found the closest restaurant, which was the Corning Bakery. We enjoyed a Cornish pasty washed down with a mug of tea.

River cruise boat docking at Dartmouth

After lunch, we returned to the pier to catch the Dart River cruise to Totnes. The boat was fairly basic, with open spaces on the upper deck and back aft, with most of the main deck being covered. The crew’s conduct and the information provided can best be described as unprofessional.

Departing the dock looking up the River Dart

Shortly after departing the dock we passed the Britannia Royal Naval College, which has trained UK’s naval officers since 1863.

Dartmouth Naval College in background

Had I opted for flying helicopters with the Fleet Air Arm, rather than joining P&O, I would have completed basic training at Dartmouth.

Naval Cadet training ships

While passing the Naval College, we also passed the moored steam powered paddle steamer Kingswear Castle. Built on the River Dart in 1924, she cruised the Medway and Thames for many years before returning to the River Dart in 2013.

1924 Steam Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle

After the naval pier we passed a large marina on the Stbd side, but even with the numerous marinas, there are still hundreds of boats tied up to buoys along both sides of the river.

Approaching first bend in the river

Rounding the first bend, the commentary advised that the forest on the Stbd side is frequently used in making films to represent a dense jungle.

River Dart’s jungle

Nice waterfront property with views down to Dartmouth

River front village of Dittisham

Dock for Author Agatha Christie’s house

Now owned by the National Trust, Greenway House was purchased by the Christie family in 1938. They used the property for holidays during the summer months and at Christmas.

Approaching the top of the river with fresh head wind

Sharphan Winery

Arriving in Totnes, we disembarked the boat and boarded the bus for the return journey to Paignton, where we were dropped off a couple of blocks from the train station.

Similar to a Ho-Ho bus, this was a most enjoyable day that provided a quick summary of local attractions. Unfortunately, the tour doesn’t provide sufficient time to see everything, so we would have to return to Dartmouth and Kingswear to check out the other attractions.

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