It’s been a decidedly grey and drizzly week here in Devon, making getting out and about that little bit more challenging. However it did give us the excuse to revisit one of our favourite local attractions: the steam train that runs between Kingswear and Paignton.
This train will always have a special significance for our family. It was on a day out just after Christmas in 2012 that my waters broke and I began to go into labour with Arthur. We began what I’m sure will be an annual tradition with a trip on the steam train for his first birthday, but haven’t actually been back since. This time round he was much more aware of what was going on: he responded excitedly with ‘choo choo!’ when I told him about our plans in the morning, and his excitement increased tenfold once we were actually on the train.
We travelled in the Devon Belle observation carriage for the first time – it’s one of only two left in operation in the whole world, and gave us a fantastic panoramic view of the countryside as we chugged along. We were right up by the engine for the first leg of the trip, so the steam enveloped us whenever we passed under bridges giving everything an otherworldly aura that just added to the sense of travelling back in time.
The stations decked out with their vintage signs added to that too, as did the engines in the sidings and the trains that passed us on the other track.
We travelled along the river and through verdant woodland, though the best views were reserved for the stretch of track alongside Torbay: even with clouds shrouding the headlands it looked pretty spectacular.
When we pulled into Paignton we watched as the engine refilled with water before being moved to the other end of the train to pull us back towards Dartmouth.
As well as being pretty awesome to watch in itself this left us with an unobstructed view for our return trip – just the line disappearing behind us as train made its way back along the coast.
Arthur was keen to make the most of the view from every possible angle, enjoying the freedom of travelling without being confined to a car seat!
I’m not sure there are many more perfect ways to appreciate the beautiful place we live in than by trundling along in a steam train. It gives me a little thrill every time I see the plume of steam rising up across the bay, or hear the whistle echoing in the wind. I’m very glad that Arthur seems to share my enthusiasm, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip!