Sample the rural pleasures of the delightful West Country counties of Somerset, Devon & Cornwall, taking in the outstanding coastal and moorland scenery the region is renowned for.
This fascinating adventure begins and ends on special steam trains and features visits to iconic locations such as St. Michael’s Mount and Lands’ End. There’s also a paddle steamer cruise on the River Dart and steam train trips on a variety of heritage railways to savour. Other tour highlights include travel by train over the legendary sea wall at Dawlish, and overnight stays in St. Ives, regularly voted the Best UK Seaside Town, and Torquay, on the famed ‘English Riviera’. You’re sure to enjoy the delights of the region, traditionally famous for its production of cider, clotted cream, and pasties, on this wonderful tour to the West Country. Definitely one not to be missed!
Saturday 17th August
London Paddington to Exeter
Your adventure begins on a steam train from London Paddington Station, hauled by steam locomotive either 60009 'Union of South Africa' or 46233 'Duchess of Sutherland' for the trip to the West Country. You will travel in the comfort of ‘Premier Dining’ where breakfast will be served at your seat soon after departure. The route runs fast to Reading before taking the Berks and Hants Line through the Vale of the White Horse to Westbury. Crossing the Somerset Levels you reach Taunton and at Norton Fitzwarren join the ‘Heritage’ West Somerset Railway. At Bishops Lydeard Station a ‘Manor’ class 4-6-0 steam locomotive will be attached to the front of your train. You then continue ‘double-headed’ on this scenic line to Minehead. Here a road coach transfers you to the Lynton and Barnstable Railway at Woody Bay in Devon. There you enjoy a steam train journey along this narrow gauge railway line. You continue by road coach to Exeter. Dinner and overnight accommodation will be at a hotel in Exeter this evening. (B D)
Sunday 18th August
Free time in Exeter
Today is a free day to explore the sights of Exeter. The morning can be dedicated to visiting the cities historical sites, including one of the oldest and most beautiful Cathedrals in the country. Stay in Cathedral quarter or head to Princess Hay where you will find a selection of lunch options to suit any taste. The afternoon can be spent in one of many excellent museums, galleries, or beautiful city parks. Dinner and overnight accommodation will be at your hotel in Exeter this evening. (B D)
Monday 19th August
St Michael’s Mount and Lands End
This morning you travel by service train from Exeter to Penzance. En route you pass along the famous sea wall at Dawlish and cross the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar to enter Cornwall at Saltash. Travelling through the glorious Cornish countryside you can still see the evidence of its illustrious mining heritage. At Penzance a road coach takes you to St. Michael’s Mount, a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay. Depending on the tide, you may be able to walk across the causeway to the island from Marazion, otherwise the boat will take you to lunch on the island. After the visit you continue by coach to Lands’ End, the most westerly point of mainland England. It’s also the iconic location for charitable events to and from John O’Groats in northeast Scotland. Later you return to Penzance with time to look around the town, with its Regency and Georgian architecture, working harbour and terminus railway station. You transfer to St. Ives and book in to your hotel for dinner and an overnight stay. (B D)
Tuesday 20th August
St Ives, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, and South Devon Railway
After a leisurely breakfast and time to have a look around St Ives, you travel by road coach to Bodmin Parkway Station for a steam-hauled return trip to Boscarne Junction on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. This includes a visit to the beautifully restored Bodmin General Station, the headquarters of the railway, where trains reverse direction of travel. In the afternoon you continue to the South Devon Railway for a return journey on the 7 mile track which runs along the stunning valley of the River Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes. Afterwards, the coach will transfer you to Torquay in Devon, again crossing the road bridge over the River Tamar at Saltash, with great views from a different vantage point of Brunel’s famous railway bridge. You check in to a hotel in Torquay for dinner and overnight stay. (B D)
Wednesday 21st August
Steam on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and a paddle steamer cruise
After breakfast you join a steam train at Paignton Railway Station for a scenic journey along the English Riviera on the Dartmouth Steam Railway. This standard gauge heritage railway runs from Paignton to Kingswear, connecting with ferries crossing the River Dart to Dartmouth. There are expansive views over Torbay as the line climbs to Churston before it descends, passing Agatha Christie’s Estate at Greenway Halt, to the River Dart. It’s an aptly named Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You then take the ferry to Dartmouth and board the coal-fired paddle steamer ‘Kingswear Castle’ for a leisurely estuary cruise. On returning there’s time to explore the narrow lanes and stone stairways of Dartmouth and discover its magical history. You return to Paignton by steam train and your hotel in Torquay. (B D)
Thursday 22nd August
A visit to Dawlish, the Seaton Tramway and return to London Waterloo
This morning you travel by road coach to Dawlish for a few hours of free time. You can stroll on the expansive sands and along the famous sea wall right beside Brunel’s railway line. There will be time to watch and photograph the trains or simply enjoy the beaches and traditional refreshments. You continue by coach to Seaton, on the South Devon coast, to visit the Seaton Tramway. There’s a return trip on this narrow gauge electric tramway, which operates open top double-deck trams over part of the former railway branch line to Seaton. In the afternoon your road coach takes you to Weymouth. Here you board the ‘Dorset Coast Express’ steam train for the journey to London Waterloo. En route you travel in the comfort of ‘Premier Dining’ and have a four-course meal silver served at your seat, an appropriate finale to your glorious ‘West Country’ tour. (B D)
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner