Skip to content

Heritage Railways in Devon and Cornwall

railways in devon and cornwall

Going on old train trips is one of the happiest memories from my childhood holidays and I hope this post about heritage railways in Devon and Cornwall will provide readers with ideas for great days out themselves. If there are any rail journeys to add, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Exploring the great Railways in Devon and Cornwall

Calling all steam enthusiasts and history buffs! Devon and Cornwall boast a captivating network of heritage railways,offering a unique journey through time and stunning landscapes. Climb aboard lovingly restored steam trains, chugging along scenic routes that weave through charming villages, dramatic coastlines, and verdant countryside.

These heritage railways aren’t just about transportation; they’re living museums that bring the golden age of steam travel back to life. Many offer special events, from themed journeys to dining experiences, making your train ride an unforgettable adventure. So, pack your sense of wonder and prepare to be transported by the magic of steam travel on Devon and Cornwall’s heritage railways!

South Devon Railway: A Steam Journey Through the Heart of Devon

south devon steam railway express

Embark on a captivating journey through time with the South Devon Railway, one of Devon’s most beloved tourist attractions. This multi-award-winning heritage railway boasts a seven-mile route that winds along the picturesque valley of the River Dart, transporting you back to the golden age of steam travel.

Climb aboard lovingly restored steam locomotives, their whistles echoing through the lush valleys. As you chug along,witness breathtaking scenery unfold before you: rolling hills dotted with sheep, quaint villages nestled amidst the greenery, and the sparkling River Dart, a constant companion on your journey.

The South Devon Railway’s charm extends beyond the scenic vistas. The railway is a living museum, where passionate volunteers meticulously maintain the locomotives and stations, keeping the history of steam travel alive. Throughout the journey, knowledgeable staff regale you with tales of the railway’s rich past, bringing the bygone era to life.

More than just a scenic ride, the South Devon Railway offers a delightful day out for all ages. Explore the Buckfastleigh Railway Station, the railway’s headquarters, which houses a museum brimming with railway memorabilia. For the little ones, a chance to spot otters basking on the riverbank adds another layer of excitement to the adventure.

Whether you’re a railway enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a charming escape into the heart of Devon, the South Devon Railway promises an unforgettable experience. So, climb aboard, feel the rhythmic chug of the steam engine, and get ready to be transported to a simpler time.

Plym Valley Railway: A Scenic Jaunt Through Devon’s Wooded Valleys

plym valley railway

Nestled amidst the rolling hills and verdant valleys of South Devon, the Plym Valley Railway offers a charming journey steeped in history. This delightful five-mile heritage railway winds its way along the scenic River Plym, connecting the market town of Tavistock with the picturesque village of Horrabridge.

Climb aboard lovingly restored steam locomotives, their whistles echoing off the wooded slopes as you embark on a leisurely journey. The Plym Valley Railway is a haven for nature lovers, with the verdant landscape providing a feast for the eyes. Watch for grazing sheep in the meadows, listen to the melody of birdsong, and catch glimpses of the sparkling River Plym as it snakes alongside the tracks.

Beyond the scenic beauty, the Plym Valley Railway offers a glimpse into the region’s rich industrial past. The railway line,originally built in the 1820s to transport limestone, played a vital role in Devon’s economic development. Today, the railway serves as a living museum, showcasing the ingenuity and perseverance of those who built and operated it.

Dedicated volunteers are the beating heart of the Plym Valley Railway. Their passion for railway history shines through in their meticulous maintenance of the locomotives and stations. Throughout the journey, they share fascinating stories and anecdotes, bringing the past to life for passengers.

The Plym Valley Railway caters to visitors of all ages. Families with children will delight in spotting playful otters along the riverbank, while history buffs can delve deeper into the railway’s fascinating past at the informative stations. So, step back in time on the Plym Valley Railway, and embark on a relaxing and scenic adventure through the heart of Devon’s captivating landscapes.


Exploring Devon and Cornwall’s Branch Lines by John Jackson delves into the charming railway routes of England’s southwest. This book is a treasure for rail enthusiasts, offering detailed histories, stunning photographs, and insights into the unique character of these lesser-known lines. A captivating journey through scenic and historic landscapes.

Buy Now

branch lines

Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway: A Triumph of Victorian Engineering

cliff railway

Perched high above the dramatic North Devon coast, the Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway offers an exhilarating journey unlike any other. This unique funicular railway, opened in 1890, isn’t your typical heritage railway. Instead, it tackles a steep incline with a series of funicular cars that ascend 520 feet, connecting the charming village of Lynton with the harbor town of Lymouth nestled below.

The experience begins at Lynton Station, a delightful Victorian building brimming with railway memorabilia. Board one of the brightly colored funicular cars, each named after a local river, and prepare for the ascent. As the car begins its climb, the breathtaking panorama of the coastline unfolds before you. Rugged cliffs plunge into the churning sea, while charming Lymouth shrinks into miniature form below.

The Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway is a marvel of Victorian engineering. The funicular system, powered by a water balance mechanism, is a testament to the ingenuity of its creators. Throughout the journey, informative plaques explain the railway’s history and engineering feats, captivating train enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

The ascent takes approximately 15 minutes, offering ample time to soak in the breathtaking views. Once you reach Lymouth, explore the harbor town’s charming streets and soak in the panoramic vistas from the clifftop. The descent back down provides a thrilling finale to your clifftop adventure.

Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, a historical adventure, or simply breathtaking scenery, the Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway promises an unforgettable experience. It’s a unique blend of Victorian engineering marvel and a scenic journey, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the captivating North Devon coast.

Dartmouth Steam Railway: A Charming Journey Along the River Dart

dartmouth steam train

Embark on a delightful journey through the heart of South Devon with the Dartmouth Steam Railway. This enchanting heritage railway offers a six-mile adventure that winds alongside the picturesque River Dart, connecting the vibrant town of Dartmouth with the charming village of Kingswear.

Climb aboard lovingly restored steam locomotives, their whistles echoing along the tranquil riverbanks. As you chug along, witness breathtaking scenery unfold before your eyes. Lush green meadows and rolling hills frame the sparkling River Dart, a constant companion on your journey. Keep an eye out for grazing sheep and playful otters basking on the riverbank, adding a touch of wildlife wonder to your trip.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway’s charm extends beyond the scenic vistas. Step back in time as you explore stations like Kingswear, meticulously restored to their Victorian-era grandeur. The railway itself is a testament to the region’s rich history, originally built in the 1860s to serve the growing tourism industry in Dartmouth. Today, passionate volunteers ensure the railway’s legacy thrives, keeping the spirit of steam travel alive.

The Dartmouth Steam Railway caters to all ages. Families with children will delight in spotting wildlife along the riverbank, while railway enthusiasts can delve deeper into the railway’s fascinating past at the informative stations.Special events, like themed afternoon teas and murder mystery evenings, add another layer of excitement to your journey.

Enjoy a delightful day out by combining your train ride with exploring the charming towns of Dartmouth and Kingswear.Explore the bustling harbor at Dartmouth, wander through the narrow streets lined with independent shops, or simply relax and soak in the picturesque harbor views.

So, climb aboard the Dartmouth Steam Railway and embark on a relaxing and scenic journey through the heart of South Devon. It’s a perfect blend of history, nature, and a touch of steam-powered nostalgia, making it a memorable experience for all.

Launceston Steam Railway: A Scenic Steam Adventure Through the Kensey Valley

steam engine at launceston

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Cornwall, the Launceston Steam Railway offers a charming journey through time and captivating countryside. This 2.5-mile heritage railway, unlike some larger routes, provides a more intimate experience,allowing you to truly appreciate the beauty of the surrounding Kensey Valley.

Climb aboard lovingly restored Victorian steam locomotives, their whistles echoing through the lush greenery. Witness a bygone era come alive as you chug along a scenic route that was originally part of the standard gauge North Cornwall Railway. The railway’s narrow 1 ft 11 ½ in gauge adds to its unique character, making it a standout amongst other heritage railways in the region.

The Launceston Steam Railway’s appeal extends beyond the nostalgic charm. The journey itself offers breathtaking panoramas of the Kensey Valley. The line winds through cuttings, over bridges, and alongside the River Kensey,providing a delightful mix of scenery. Keep an eye out for grazing sheep and diverse birdlife, adding a touch of nature to your steam adventure.

The railway caters to visitors of all ages. Families with children will enjoy the manageable length of the ride and the opportunity to spot wildlife. Train enthusiasts can delve deeper into the railway’s history at the Launceston Station museum, which houses a collection of railway memorabilia. Special events, like cream tea experiences, add another layer of charm to your visit.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxing and scenic escape in this area, consider a trip on the Launceston Steam Railway. It’s a delightful blend of history, nature, and a touch of steam-powered nostalgia, offering a unique perspective on Cornish heritage and a memorable experience for all.

Bodmin & Wenford Railway: A Journey Through Cornish Mining History

bodmin and wenford railway from front

Embark on a captivating journey through time and Cornwall’s rich mining heritage with the Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway. This seven-mile heritage railway, weaving through the heart of Bodmin Moor, offers a glimpse into the industrial past alongside breathtaking scenery.

Climb aboard meticulously restored steam locomotives, their whistles echoing across the rugged moorland. As you chug along, witness a bygone era come alive. The railway line, originally built in the 1870s, played a pivotal role in transporting vital minerals like tin and copper, fueling Cornwall’s economic prosperity. Today, the railway serves as a living museum, showcasing the region’s industrial heritage.

The Bodmin & Wenford Railway’s charm extends beyond its historical significance. The route winds through a captivating landscape, offering a delightful mix of dramatic moorland, verdant valleys, and charming villages. Keep an eye out for granite tors, remnants of Cornwall’s ancient geology, and historic mining structures that stand as testaments to the region’s industrial past.

The railway caters to visitors of all ages. Train enthusiasts can delve deeper into the railway’s history at the informative stations, which house a collection of railway memorabilia and artifacts. Special events, like themed train rides and days dedicated to showcasing traditional crafts, add another layer of excitement to your journey.

So, step back in time and explore Cornwall’s rich mining heritage with the Bodmin & Wenford Steam Railway. It’s a perfect blend of history, nature, and a touch of steam-powered nostalgia, offering a unique perspective on the region’s industrial past and a memorable experience for all. The town of Bodmin itself is full of great things to do too.

Lappa Valley: A Fun-filled Family Adventure Aboard a Miniature Steam Train

lappa valley steam railway

Calling all families with young adventurers! Nestled amidst the rolling hills of Cornwall, the Lappa Valley Steam Railway offers a unique blend of nostalgic charm and family fun. This delightful miniature railway isn’t just about transportation; it’s a full-fledged day out filled with exciting rides, captivating characters, and a touch of steam-powered magic.

Climb aboard brightly colored miniature steam trains, their cheerful whistles announcing the start of your adventure.Unlike some heritage railways with longer routes, Lappa Valley offers a manageable 2-mile loop, perfect for keeping little ones entertained. The journey itself is a delight, weaving through a verdant valley and offering glimpses of the surrounding countryside.

The magic extends beyond the train ride. Lappa Valley is a wonderland for children, featuring a variety of exciting attractions. Whiz down thrilling slides, explore a captivating maze, or pan for gold and discover hidden treasures.Friendly costumed characters roam the grounds, adding to the whimsical atmosphere and creating lasting memories for young explorers.

Parents can relax and enjoy the scenic setting while their children have a blast. Designated picnic areas and cafes provide opportunities for refueling after a morning of exploration. For a touch of history, the on-site museum showcases the rich heritage of miniature railways, offering a glimpse into the evolution of these delightful trains.

The Lappa Valley Steam Railway caters to all ages. While the miniature trains are the main attraction for younger visitors,adults can appreciate the well-maintained locomotives and the dedication of the staff who keep the magic alive. Special events, like themed days and magical light shows during the festive season, add another layer of excitement throughout the year.

So, if you’re looking for a fun-filled family adventure in Cornwall, look no further than the Lappa Valley Steam Railway.It’s a delightful blend of nostalgic charm, thrilling rides, and a touch of steam-powered magic, promising an unforgettable day out for all ages.

Helston Railway: A Short But Sweet Steam Adventure Through Cornish Countryside

helston railway

Embark on a charming journey through the west of Cornwall on the Helston Railway. This delightful 1.5-mile heritage railway offers a taste of steam travel nostalgia amidst the rolling hills and verdant landscapes near the Lizard Peninsula.

Climb aboard lovingly restored steam locomotives, their whistles echoing across the fields. Witness a bygone era come alive as you chug along a scenic track originally built in the 1880s to connect Helston with the villages of Porthleven and Gunwaloe. Though short in length, the journey packs a punch in terms of charm and historical significance.

The Helston Railway’s appeal goes beyond the nostalgic train ride. The route winds through a picturesque landscape,offering a delightful mix of farmland, meadows dotted with wildflowers, and glimpses of the distant coastline. Keep an eye out for grazing sheep and diverse birdlife, adding a touch of nature to your steam adventure.

While the main attraction is the train ride, the railway caters to visitors of all ages. Families with children can extend their visit by exploring the on-site miniature railway, offering another delightful ride for little ones. Train enthusiasts can delve deeper into the railway’s history at the Prospidnick Park Station museum, which houses a collection of railway memorabilia. Special events, like themed rides and “Thomas the Tank Engine” days, add another layer of excitement for younger visitors.

So, if you’re looking for a charming and relaxing escape in Cornwall, consider a trip on the Helston Railway. It’s a perfect blend of history, nature, and a touch of steam-powered nostalgia, offering a unique perspective on Cornish heritage and a delightful experience for a short but memorable journey.

Seaton Tramway: A Seaside Charm Ride on a Vintage Tram

seaton tramway

Step back in time and experience the nostalgic charm of the Seaton Tramway. This delightful two-mile tramway along the Axe Estuary in East Devon offers a unique blend of coastal scenery, vintage tram rides, and a touch of seaside fun.

Climb aboard lovingly restored trams, some dating back to the early 1900s. Unlike traditional trains, these open-air trams offer a unique way to soak up the sunshine and enjoy uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. The gentle hum of the electric motors replaces the familiar whistle of a steam train, adding to the tranquil atmosphere.

The Seaton Tramway’s charm extends beyond the unique tram experience. The route winds along the picturesque Axe Estuary, offering breathtaking panoramas of the rolling Devon hills and the glistening coastline. Keep an eye out for grazing sheep, playful birds, and even the occasional glimpse of a seal basking on the mudflats.

The tramway caters to visitors of all ages. Families with children will delight in the novelty of riding an open-air tram and spotting wildlife along the way. History buffs can delve deeper into the tramway’s past at the Tramway Museum located at Colyton Station, which houses a collection of vintage trams and exhibits detailing the tramway’s rich history.

Seaton itself is a charming seaside town, offering a perfect complement to your tram adventure. Explore the harbor,wander through the quaint shops, or simply relax on the beach and soak in the delightful seaside atmosphere. Special events, like themed tram rides and light displays during the festive season, add another layer of excitement throughout the year.

So, if you’re looking for a charming and relaxing escape in East Devon, consider a trip on the Seaton Tramway. It’s a perfect blend of nostalgia, scenic views, and a touch of seaside fun, offering a unique and memorable experience for all ages.

World of Model Railways: A Miniature Masterpiece in Cornwall

model mine

Not stricly a railway, but I thoght that I would include it as interesting for rail enthusiasists! Immerse yourself in a world of intricate detail at the World of Model Railways, Cornwall’s largest and most captivating model railway exhibition. Spread across a vast space, this meticulously crafted layout transports you to a miniature wonderland teeming with life and movement.

Witness breathtaking landscapes come alive in stunning detail. Lush valleys, towering mountains, and charming villages sprawl before you, all built to a miniature scale. Trains of all shapes and sizes chug along meticulously crafted tracks,winding past miniature towns, snaking through tunnels, and hugging captivating coastlines.

But the magic doesn’t stop there! The World of Model Railways is an interactive experience. Take control of certain elements of the layout, triggering level crossings, operating signals, and even setting off lights for a truly immersive experience. This interactive touch makes it a delight not just for train enthusiasts, but for visitors of all ages.

For the train aficionados, the sheer scale and detail of the layout is a feast for the eyes. Spot iconic locomotives, marvel at authentically recreated scenes, and appreciate the dedication poured into every tiny building, tree, and figure. For families with children, the interactive elements and playful atmosphere bring the joy of model railways to life. Witness their faces light up as they control elements of the layout and watch the miniature world come alive in response.

So, step into the World of Model Railways and embark on a captivating journey through a world shrunk to a smaller scale.It’s a testament to human ingenuity, a celebration of train travel, and a guaranteed source of fun and wonder for visitors of all ages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *