All aboard the smile and wave machine.

Posted on October 12, 2012


I spend a great deal of time on trains, travelling to various clients around the country, and often it’s not as smooth as it could be, to say the very least.  I am usually left, annoyed, on a platform watching the delayed signs, standing because the carriage is too full or listening to a range of conversations, the likes of which should never be shouted into a mobile phone in a crowded carriage.

It’s strange then, that one of my absolute favourite days out has to be a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.  How nice to have a gentle journey back in time on board a more nostalgic mode of transport compared to the usual cramped race across the country on an express train.  It’s the one train trip I genuinely look forward to, it was one of the very first days out when we moved to the area, and still one which never fails to bring a smile to my face.  How could it not?

McAllister and Co

Imagine, stepping back in time and boarding a real life steam train, hearing the toot as you leave the station and cranking down the windows to see the fabulous views as you travel along the South Devon coast.

It’s magical.

And not just for the people on board, it also brings a smile to the faces of all of those the train passes by.  Children on beaches stop making sandcastles to stand up and wave, dog walkers take a break to smile and even groups of ‘grown ups’ point with broad grins on their faces.

It’s not just a steam train with a plume of smoke, chugging its way to Dartmouth, it’s a smile and wave machine. No matter how many times you travel on it, or how many times it passes you by, you have to stop. You have to smile. You certainly have to wave. No matter who you are or what you are doing. It’s steam train law.

There’s old fashioned service on the train too, exceptional welcome and ‘time’ – the conductor has time to talk as he clips your ticket, the train driver takes time to smile for photos and the station staff answer questions, give direction and ideas.

We travel from Paignton to Dartmouth regularly.  The adventure starts and ends with the steam train, it has a boat or ferry trip at either end too, and in the middle, a lovely lunch and a relaxing time in gorgeous Dartmouth.

A truly perfect day out.  And one I shall repeat again, and again.

For more images of the journey, have a look on my facebook page.