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South Devon Railway
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The South Devon Railway is one of the West Country’s best loved tourist attractions and is the longest established steam railway in the region. The former GWR branch line runs along the stunning valley of the Dart between Buckfastleigh and Totnes on a 14 mile round trip. The steam trains offer a wonderful all day, all weather attraction for families and people of all ages. The railway also has a fascinating museum, gardens, riverside walk, locomotive restoration workshops, a gift and model railway shop, refreshment rooms and more. Free car parking at Buckfastleigh, just off the A38, midway between Exeter and Plymouth; Totnes is a 500 yard walk from the main line station.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities
Darwen, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed May 9, 2013

We were at our friends wedding reception on the steam locomotive .the meal and service supplied by the railway team was excellent. and could not of asked for anything else as it all went without a hitch.

Visited April 2013
Thank boothie1955
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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922 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The chatting of the choo choo”
Reviewed May 7, 2013

I spent a glorious afternoon here in early May. I'm in my early sixties , and I was transported back to a bygone era, when life was at a more sedate pace.
The main railway station with its old advertising boards for tizer & carbolic soap etc, sets the tone,the trolleys on the platform, the old card tickets, a far cry from today's electronic timetables
& ticket machines etc.
Then along comes the locomotive chuffing its way into the station, we board a 1940's carriage
The whistle blows & were on our way to Totnes following the beautiful River Dart, the coaches are swaying & the melody of the wheels going cliperty clap for 8 miles Heaven
When you arrive at Totnes, you're next to the main inter city line to paddington,you're back in the real world. Me I just jumped back on the old rattler back up to buckfastleigh..perfect......
A Great Experience for all the Family............

Visited May 2013
1 Thank Clive020552
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ellenton, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
289 reviews
161 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 117 helpful votes
“Where memories return.”
Reviewed April 30, 2013

A truly great day out for old and young alike. Real steam in action and in a wonderful setting. Great trip on the train with very helpful staff on hand to answer any questions. Take all the family and step back in time.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Neil-KAG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Lovely experience.. Except for the restaurant”
Reviewed April 29, 2013

We're no strangers to this place, being local steam enthusiasts. Everything train-related has always been well-organised and the sight of those beautiful, living, breathing engines doing their thing is magical. But we will never be attempting to eat in the restaurant/café again.

Last weekend was typical: We queued for a long time, hoping just to have a bowl of soup each. As we did so, we commented that a few visitors seemed to be bagging tables before joining the queue, which as true Brits we felt was Naughty. But they must have known something we didn't, because when we reached the front of the queue, we were asked for a table number. We explained that the place was full, so we hadn't been able to bag a table and anyway, we were too fair-minded to dump a coat on a table before getting our food.... But we'd find a table after getting our soup, probably somewhere in the small outside area.
This wasn't good enough. No table number, no order.

We left.

This is far and away the worst-organised self-service café we've ever visited. Come on guys, can you really not just jot down "Outside", and take a name to call out when the order's ready? Do you really expect your customers to leave bags or jackets on a table, then queue for 15 minutes for their meals, armed with their table number? This is basic stuff.

That aside, the service is painfully slow, and has been on all our visits. There seemed to be no sensible division of staff duties. Last weekend, the same person was operating the till and serving hot drinks, which is a maddeningly slow process at the best of times.

The food may be good, it may not. We've never had half a day to spare to find out, nor will we ever, since we won't be trying to eat here again. It's a real downer on what would otherwise be a terrific destination.

So, not a great score. Apologies for that to the guys who run the trains; you do a great job! But you're being let down by the idiocy possessing the restaurant.

Visited April 2013
1 Thank Annith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
John H, Manager at South Devon Railway, responded to this review, May 3, 2013
Our catering Manager, Graham Coates responds:
I am very sorry that you, as a repeat customer of the SDR, felt that the Refreshment Rooms did not match the service and quality you received on our trains.

We have been using a numbered table system for close to a year now and find, like many other catering establishments, that it helps to ensure the meals that customers order are the meals they receive. With such a high turnover of visitors this is particularly important in our Refreshment Rooms as I’m sure you can appreciate.

We have a sign outside the front of the Refreshment Rooms asking our customers to find a table before ordering, and there is also another large sign above the main till inside.

You rightly point out that the member of staff behind the till could have made things easier by recording the table as outside and then asking for a name. To be fair to my staff something along these lines normally happens, I can only apologise that on your visit it did not.

The queue is an issue we always have to deal with as it normally coincides with the arrival of a train from Totnes and the sudden influx of customers as a result. We have a system in place that allows two members of staff to work together running the till and making the hot drinks. Perhaps at the time of your visit other staff members were performing other functions, I apologise for this but would like to reassure you that in the majority of times our system works and our throughput of orders remains high.

As is hopefully obvious from other reviews here on Trip Advisor the Refreshment Rooms normally receive high praise, particularly for our quality of food – I’m confident that had you eaten our soup it would have gone a long way to amend for the queue and the service you received. Thank you for bringing your comments to our attention, all customer views are useful and valid and help us to improve our offer and service.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, UK
Level 4 Contributor
42 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Awesome day out!”
Reviewed April 26, 2013

I actually came down for the train driving experience which was a birthday present. Three of us had the opportunity to drive and secondman a return trip along the length of the line, under expert tuition, as well as a chance to just ride the train your colleagues are driving with your guests (who are allowed to travel on your train only for free). As well as the driving experience you get a tour round various parts of the site which aren't normally open to the public which was appreciated.

Everything on the line as far as possible is authentic so even just travelling as a visitor I would recommend it as a great day out if you have even the slightest interest in things rail related - and even if you don't, it's a nice day out anyway amongst the lovely South Devon countryside alongside the River Dart.

Great parking, the restaurant is reasonably priced and good quality, and there's a shop selling lots of model railway and other items. At the Totnes end there's also a café and of course the rare breeds centre if you have the time to spare (sadly on our driver experience day we didn't, but hope to return another year and do so).

Visited April 2013
Thank ajdown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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