June 2022. Making the best of four weeks off, after the Mediterranean cruise for Danny and Mexico for Timothy, we organised a train trip in England. On the menu: Bletchley Park, the night train to Penzance, the Dartmouth Steam Railway and the Isle of Wight. On the last day, we roamed around London to sample the Elizabeth Line.
We were in Devon for the Dartmouth Steam Railway. One of of the offerings by the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company is the ‘Round Robin‘. It involves a bus service between Paignton and Totnes, a river cruise on the Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth and and ride on the steam railway from Dartmouth, actually from Kingswear, to Paignton.
The first leg was a bus ride from Paignton to Totnes, where we walked around town.
The River Dart
The River Dart is a river that rises high on Dartmoor and flows for 75 kilometres (47 mi) to the sea at Dartmouth.
The lower section of the River Dart forms Dartmouth Harbour, a deep water natural harbour with a long history of maritime usage. In modern times, the port’s commercial activity has declined, but it is still a busy port for local fishing vessels and a wide variety of yachts and other private boats. Several local companies specialise in shipbuilding and repairs to small tonnage craft.
Dartmouth is also the home of the Britannia Royal Naval College and as a result is routinely visited by sizeable naval ships. Smaller naval tenders are often seen carrying out training exercises in the harbour and river. Large cruise ships are occasional visitors, with the largest visitor to date being the MV Royal Princess (30,277 GT).
Upstream, the Dart is navigable to seagoing vessels as far as the weir in Totnes. The river almost dries out for 2 miles (3.2 km) below Totnes at spring tide low water, but vessels drawing up to 3 foot (0.91 m) can proceed to Totnes from one and a half hours after low water. Above the weir, the river is navigable only to small craft such as kayaks and canoes.
The harbour and port are popular leisure boating locations, and several marinas and boat yards are located on the river. The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta takes place annually over three days at the end of August.
The river cruise was a popular affair with the elderly. A recurring theme this trip. We really had a senior vacation. But that doesn’t matter.
The Castle Cardiff is the largest vessel in the company’s fleet. We had a spot in the back, good enough to see the riversides. Explanations were live. The PA was loud and clear and the storyteller was comprehensible. He had a lot of humor.
The cruise lasts about an hour.