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South Devon Railway

The Former Dart Valley Railway, the Quintessential
Great Western Branch.

The standard gauge South Devon Railway follows the meandering River Dart for most of it’s 7 mile length from Buckfastleigh on the edge of Dartmoor, to Totnes where it meets the Great Western Main Line. The beautiful river valley can only be fully appreciated from the train as the river is only briefly glimpsed from the road.

South Devon Railway at a Glance

Type: Preserved Railway

Gauge: Standard, 4’ 8½”

Length: 7 miles

Stations: 3

First opened: 1872

Closed: 1958 (Passenger) 1962 (Freight)

Re-opened in preservation: 1969

Getting there

The best terminus at which to start your journey depends on your mode of transport.

By train - Totnes mainline station is less than 500 yards from the SDR’s Totnes (Littlehempston) station and is accessed via a footpath and footbridge accross the River Dart. The mainline station is served by Great Western Trains and Arriva Cross Country Trains from London, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Penzance, The Midlands, The North and Scotland.

By car - Buckfastleigh is the best choice, it’s close to the A38 and easy to find, just follow the brown signs from the A38 slip road. There is a large car park adjacent to the SDR station.

By bus - The following buses stop close to Buckfastleigh station or Totnes mainline station or town centre:


The map below shows the location of all the stations on the South Devon Railway, click on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode (where applicable). Use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.

Attractions and Facilities


On this railway

Contact Details

Headquarters Address:




South Devon Railway,
The Station, Dartbridge Road,
TQ11 0DZ

0845 345 1420

South Devon Railway


The Dart Valley Railway was the first preserved line to be established in the South West and was probably more famously known under that name. However, the branch has benefited tremendously from the transition into the South Devon Railway and can offer a better service and more to see and do.

The SDR holds a first for me, it was on this line that I was first hauled by a preserved standard gauge steam locomotive; ex GWR 2251 class 0-6-0 No. 3205, a delightful little tender engine which is still on the SDR. The railway is not terribly far from where I live so I get the chance to go there fairly often.

Whichever end of the South Devon Railway you start your journey from, it’s wise to get there early because there’s plenty to see and do, you can easily spend all day there.

At Buckfastleigh there’s the museum, historic steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock, refreshment rooms, model and gift shop with OO gauge model railway, 7¼” gauge miniature railway and more. The Dartmoor Otters & Buckfast Butterflies are adjacent to the car park.

The SDR station at Totnes (Littlehempston) has been built entirely from buildings and artifacts rescued from GWR stations in the West Country. The main building is from Toller on the former Bridport branch in Dorset. The Rare Breeds Farm and Garden Café are right next to the station, Totnes town centre is about a half mile away.

The trip from end to end takes half an hour, if you have time you can stop off at Staverton, the intermediate station to take a stroll along the River Dart. If not you can still enjoy the spectacular views of the unspoilt Dart Valley and it’s wildlife from the train.

A steam train ride through the stunning Dart Valley is an incredibly pleasant experience. Add a visit to the Otters and Butterflies at Buckfastleigh and Rare breeds Farm at Totnes and you have a excellent family day out.


Map | Getting there | Attractions & Facilities | Operation | Brief History | Review | Links



Trains operate daily from the end of March to the end of October with at least four steam hauled trains each way. In the Summer peak season the passing loop at Staverton is brought into use with nine trains each way, some of these are diesel hauled. During the winter, trains run on certain Sundays and school holidays including some diesel multiple unit services, click on the image in links below to view the timetable.

The South Devon Railway offers a Dining Train service, The Devonshire Pullman on certain Fridays, the train is comprised of historic carriages and takes a leisurely 2½ hours for the round trip. Refer to the SDR’s website for more details (see link below).


The South Devon Railway is home to a collection of steam and diesel locomotives including some unique historical engines on static display at Buckfastleigh:



Brief History

Since then the railway has seen tremendous expansion, the building of a passing loop at Staverton has enabled two-train running effectively doubling the number of passengers that can be carried in the peak season. Building work on stations, signal boxes and bridges together with restoration of a fleet of rolling stock has progressed attracting more visitors. In 2007, the line carried over 100,000 passengers for the first time under SDR operation and was named Heritage Railway of the Year.