Sometimes the means is as important as the end. Journeys can become key parts of the holiday experience. So it is with Devon’s scenic rail routes, where you can relax and watch a world of green countryside, coastal views and dramatic landscapes pass before your eyes.

 

The Avocet Line links Exeter with Exmouth. This route takes you from Exeter St David’s station through Topsham to Exmouth, passing alongside the Exe Estuary. Topsham is full of interesting independent shops and excellent restaurants, and with the station right in the middle of town, it’s an excellent place to stop off in en route.

 

Exmouth has two miles of sandy beach to enjoy, but for those wanting more activity, you can explore the South West Coast Path along the seafront – beautiful for birdwatchers. Exmouth also has its own arts festival in May. For great views of the estuary take the Starcross Ferry from Exmouth Marina.

 

The Riviera Line connects Exeter to Paignton, running through Starcross and along the Exe Estuary before hitting the coast through Dawlish and Teignmouth. After a stop further inland at Newton Abbot, the line runs back along the coast through Torquay to Paignton.

 

On this journey you can combine the cosmopolitan attractions of Exeter, from its historic quayside and cathedral to its shopping centre, with the Regency splendour of Dawlish, where the railway line runs along the seafront. Torquay combines seaside charm with the zestfulness of its busy harbour. Finally, Paignton provides award winning sandy-beaches, a splendid Victorian pier and even a zoo.

 

For a different Devon experience, ride the Tarka Line running between Barnstaple and Exeter. For an hour and a quarter you’ll experience the beauty of the Devon countryside, as the line follows the valleys of the Yeo and Taw rivers. Highlights along the route include the market town of Crediton and the picturesque charm of Barnstaple itself.

Barnstaple has one of the largest indoor markets in the country and, if you like cycling, from the station you can also easily access the Tarka Trail.

 

From historic Plymouth you can catch a train on the Tamar Valley Line. Initially this takes you through beautiful countryside, but the highlight is when you pass over the magnificent Calstock Viaduct, 120 feet above the River Tamar. The train also calls at the lovely riverside village of Bere Ferrers, home to a real ale trail and beautiful countryside.

 

Stopping off in Calstock, you’ll find a couple of charming local pubs serving great food and, a short walk away, Cotehele House and Gardens. This is a Tudor-period house run by the National Trust with an impressive art and artefact collection and a large garden that combines formal terraces and an orchard with a wild valley garden accessed through a secret tunnel.

Calstock also hosts a jazz and blues festival in the autumn.