A Ride on an Accessible Steam Train with South Devon Railway

South Devon Railway

We enjoyed riding on an accessible steam train with South Devon Railway. Who doesn’t love a ride on a steam train!

The South Devon Railway is a popular tourist attraction based in Buckfastleigh, Devon. Crewed mainly by volunteers, the olde worlde station, authentic uniforms, picnic gardens, model railway displays, and a 90-minute ride on a steam train make it a great day out for the whole family.


There are limited accessible parking spaces next to Buckfastleigh station, but more spaces in the main car park are down a slight incline.

Parking at Buckfastleigh

We could access the station, ticket office and train using a standard self-propelling wheelchair.

There are limitations for larger scooters, check the Disabled Visitors Page on the South Devon Railway website. Also, registered disabled people and their carers receive a concessionary price – details on the website.

The cafe and gardens at Buckfastleigh station are accessible in a wheelchair. There’s a gravel path in the gardens, which for most wouldn’t be a problem, but Bridget was feeling a bit delicate and didn’t fancy being shuddered, so I parked her up and bimbled by myself.

If you want to get on and off the train, Totnes is home to the award-winning Rare Breeds Farm and was voted one of the best family venues in the UK for people with disabilities.

A Trip on an Accessible Steam Train with South Devon Railway

We started off with a bit of breakfast in the cafe, it was busy but we had no problem finding a table. There’s a flat entrance with a slight lip in the doorway, and we had no problem with the chair.

Food and Drink

Suitably stuffed, we bimbled over to the station where we met by Alistair. I think Alistair is the station master. He certainly looked important and knew his stuff!

Alistair told us that South Devon Railway has nearly 200 volunteers and eight steam engines, although they hire some of them out to other railways. The South Devon Railway Trust also has a fully functional workshop where they fix and maintain steam engines.

Steam Engine in Dartmoor


Coal Storage

Alistair organised our tickets, and we set off to meet some of the volunteers. Although they’re all enthusiastic and clearly love what they’re doing, the show’s star was “Ollie the Dog”. Ollie visits every week and is always in character (don’t you just love him).


Ollie High Five

Bimbling around the UK, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of preserving old buildings. They give us a window into the past, and Buckfastleigh train station is exactly that.

Buckfastleigh Train Station

Entrance to Train Station

Even down to the adverts on the walls and suitcases on the trolleys, you get transported back in time, when the steam engine toots its whistle and puffs its smoke – it’s pretty special.

Wills Cigarettes

Trolley on Platform


We boarded our train at Buckfastleigh and made the round trip. In all the excitement I forgot to jot down the name of the engine, although it did get the number 6412 if that means anything?

South Devon Railway

I’m clearly a pretty rubbish train spotter…

One of the volunteers put down the access ramp, I smiled when the crowds all dived on it, he soon got control and let us on.

Portable Access Ramp

Guarding The Access Ramp

Double Door on Steam Train

Although we stayed on the train for the duration, I could see a portable access ramp at each station.

Once onboard, we settled down into the spacious buffet car and soaked up the sights, smells, and sounds of yesteryear.

Bridget on Steam Train

Buffet Car

The 7-mile route takes you alongside the River Dart, we’d been tipped off that sitting on the right-hand side of the train offers the best views.

View of River Dart

River Dart

When the train is in motion, it’s very tempting to stick your head out of the window, especially if you want to take photos of the engine. If you do, you’ll get a face full of black soot from the engine, be warned!

Steam Train in Dartmoor

The 90 minutes flew by, and our trip on a steam train was over…

Once I’d removed the soot from my glasses and camera lens, we made our way to the gardens. If you can climb stairs, you can access the gardens over the bridge. We can’t so we set off down the road and under the bridge – watch out for cars coming under the bridge!

Railway Bridge

We’d covered a lot of ground in Dartmoor, and Bridget was fragile. The prospect of shuddering on the gravel path in the gardens didn’t appeal, so I parked her up and bimbled on my own.

Gravel Path in Station Gaden

Bridget in Picnic Area

Hey, I didn’t abandon her. A bimblers gotta do what a bimblers gotta do.

Anyway, take a look around the gardens…

Signal Box

Riverside Walk

Steps in Garden

Seating in Garden


Model Railway

Model Trains

Although we didn’t explore the full Dartmoor Otter and Buckfast Butterfly exhibition, we did have a look at the ants in reception.

Otters and Butterflies

Ant Farm

All in all, a trip to the South Devon Railway is recommended. The train ride is enjoyable, but for me it’s more than a ride on a steam train, It’s a great day out for the whole family.

The trust host theme days such as “Thomas the Tank Engine” and “Food and Drink” rides. The stations and grounds are used to hold special events, vintage car rallies and teddy bears picnic to name but a few.

Apart from having a wonderful time yourself, your visit supports the important work the staff and volunteers of South Devon Railway Trust do.

Resources: South Devon Railway

Take a look at what else we got up to in Dartmoor with Dartmoor Accommodation

About The Bimblers 116 Articles
The Bimblers is a travel blog exploring the UK's best accessible holidays. Travelling with a chronic illness or disability just got easier as we share travel tips for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility.