Country Living (UK)




Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the South Devon Railway was planned as an ‘atmospheri­c’ stretch of rail and, thanks to its geography, trains still have to slow down along parts of it; this makes it great for watching the scenery, which is as impressive today as when the line was first built. Past the Exe Estuary, the tracks lead into Dawlish, where the train sweeps along the seafront, metres from the water. In spring, the horizon meets huge blue skies, and high spring tides water-pattern the windows and break over the tracks. Breathe in the seaweed tang before you clatter on through Plymouth to Cornwall, where the route ducks inland, popping out to the sea at St Austell and finally again at the UK’S westernmos­t tip. It’s a reasonably long journey – around three hours – but the Night Riviera sleeper from London also runs along this line if you want to see the sights by moonlight before bed. Visit and search ‘Exeter to Penzance’.


Walking trails take you from the Land’s End signpost past Bronze Age burial mounds and an Iron Age hill fort to cliffs above the churning Atlantic – to look for America in the distance, or at least seals playing in the waves below.

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