South Devon railway and the Totnes rare breeds farm.
I’ll never forget the first time we stumbled across South Devon railway and the Totnes rare breeds farm. We lived in Manchester and had been coming to Devon on holiday every summer, visiting all our usual haunts which were nostalgic, but never as fun as the time before. But we found this beauty and has since become our favourite “haunt” although the fun we have here never fades. We enjoy it just as much each time we visit. We first started this day out when our now 8 year old was a baby. We have such fond memories, and then it became a family of four, and now there’s five of us and this year we took our 9 month old son for the first time.
South Devon railway is a multi award winning railway line. It is the former Great western railway branch line, built in 1872. It runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes.
The platform at South Devon railway is like something from a romantic 1940’s movie set. You can happily sit there and watch the vintage trains go by, or you can visit the little train museum situated on the platform, which has free entrance. Something to keep the little ones occupied if, unlike us, you’ve got there with plenty of time to spare. Our usual arrival at the station is a little less organised and usually consists of us running to get our tickets, and jumping on the train with no time to spare. But, that said, after several years of raised blood pressure and close heart attack’s we made it in good time this year and we were able to relax and enjoy the experience much more!
South Devon railway also holds various events such as the Santa specials train and the vintage fair. We’ve yet to try out the Santa specials however we attended the vintage fair here last year which we highly reccomend. Next year they will be holding a special gala celebrating their 50th anniversary since they opened as a heritage railway (more details for this can be found on their website).
On board the vintage train there are an array of lovely volunteers who are always so friendly and helpful. We find a cabin so that we can pretend we’re the Weasley family on the Hogwards express. It has that kind of feel! The line runs alongside the River Dart so the views along the way are stunning! If you get on the usual steam train there is a buffet on board where you can buy some drinks and snacks. Unfortunately no butter beer or fizzing wizzbees though (ok, So yes I’m a Harry Potter fan!). Unfortunately this visit the steam train was not running due to a problem with it, but the diesel had the same magical feel to it.
On arrival at the platform in Totnes you will instantly notice the sign for Totnes Rare Breeds Which is located on the other side of the tracks. Sometimes at the platform there will be a volunteer from the farm with an owl for the kids to look at and ask questions. Once you cross over you arrive in the picnic area of the Rare breeds cafe which sells a selection of kids lunch boxes, sandwhiches, paninis and drinks. You can then sit and watch the trains go past, which the kids always love, and it means you don’t have to hope for signal on your phone so you can YouTube Mr Tumble when your child is throwing sandwhiches at you, because usually the trains keep them entertained enough! The food is never a disappointment either (except to the one throwing sandwhiches). The price is also very reasonable. Here you can also buy food to feed the animals in the farm.
Just through the gates of Totnes Rare breeds farm, which is situated next to the cafe, you’ll be greeted by the owls. There is usually a little one who sits on the gate and likes to be stroked. His name is flitwick (he actually is) despite being the smallest, he’s actually the eldest owl there, one might say wise. There is a tractor that the kids can sit on and you can take photos. We have photos of the kids growing up on this tractor! There’s an ample amount of animals for the children to pet and feed. Our favourite being the little pigme goats. They are very friendly and very cute. There are very knowledgeable volunteers who are happy to answer and questions and also happy to hand the kids a guinea pig to hold.
After the farm trip we head off back to the station for the train ride home. Is a fab full day out for everyone, and you can also do all of this with conjunction with Buckfast butterfly farm and Dartmoor otter sanctuary which were yet to try (once we can convince my butterfly hating husband).
See the video of our day here:
About the author:
Lene Langley has been exploring Exeter and Devon since she moved here in 2015 with her husband and 2 (now 3) children. She previously lived in Derbyshire and worked as a general nurse and midwife. She always had an interest in photography and cinematography and loves to make short films of her travels with her family around the UK & Europe and has began working on her next project ‘Moments to Movies’ creating short films for other people who also wish to document their travels, weddings and other experiences on film as well as videography for other small businesses.
Tags: Buckfastleigh, discovering Devon, Exeter, family, family days out, Parenting, South Devon railway, south west, Totnes rare breeds farm