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Torbay Travelogue (Part 2)
Avoiding the showers on public transport on a Summer weekend in Devon
Torquay to Exeter
Sunday dawned even brighter and sunnier that Saturday. Armed with a more positive weather forecast we drove from our hotel to Torquay Coach Station. The coach station is rather inconveniently located miles from anywhere in Torquay Ė passengers with luggage would have had a hike to their hotels in the old days. For us though we were travelling light Ė a bottle of water, a pullover and an essential umbrella. The first National Express vehicle to appear was the 501 service from Paignton to London. I assumed this would be the service to take us to Exeter, our first destination of the day. However the driver pointed to my ticket where in very small writing it stated ď337Ē was our route. The Parksí 6-wheeler Plaxton left and soon after the 337, a standard Caetano Levante bodied Scania of Silverdale from Nottingham arrived (above middle). This service runs from Paignton to Rugby via Bristol and Birmingham and is due to be taken over by Edwards of South Wales according to the driver. We were first in the queue so we sat in the front two nearside seats. The driver checked his boarding chart and told us they were reserved from Taunton (these seats are for disabled or wheelchair users), however we told him we were only going as far as Exeter. There were five passengers on board as we headed off up the coast through Teignmouth (no pickups Ė not even obvious where the stop was) and Dawlish (two pickups) arriving in Exeter about an hour later. We had driven through a couple of sharp showers and Exeter was still looking a bit gloomy. The bus depot has been demolished but the bus station stubbornly remains open (itís had more farewells than Frank Sinatra). The waiting room is a particularly unpleasant place full of pigeon droppings (right upper) but the rest of the building retains a strange appeal Ė maybe itís the 1960ís concrete (right lower). Sunday services, as in every rural area, are thin on the ground so we didnít wait long.
|Exeter is a modest city sympathetically rebuilt in the 1950ís after it was destroyed in the Baedeker blitz in World War 2. Although it has a car showroom from every major manufacturer, the city centre until recently had relatively few shops. That was until the Princesshay shopping centre was redeveloped 10 years ago. The cathedral is tucked round the back of the shops in a low key square. This is where Royal Clarence Hotel is located which was hit by a devastating fire last year. It has now been secured and the planning has just begun about how to restore it (far right). Itís a sad sight and rivalled the cathedral for interest from tourists. Having had a leisurely stroll round the centre we then made for St Davids rail station which is a good 20 minute walk. There are directions on lamp posts from the city centre to the station so those unfamiliar with the area donít end up in cul-de-sac or a housing estate (right).|
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Exeter to Dawlish
At the station I was told that we could buy a single ticket to Torre (last station before Torquay) and break our journey in Dawlish. I donít remember being able to do this in the past, but obviously First Group have indeed transformed transport as they claim. A very shiny, very purple HST soon came into view on the service from London to Penzance (above left). We chose seats on the left hand side of the train so we could get a good view of the run down the coast. Following the River Exe we sped through Starcross (above middle), past the floating restaurant in the river (reservations required), and rounded Dawlish Warren before following the famous South Devon railway sea wall where the track hugs the coast into Dawlish station. The station at Dawlish is now fully re-open after the rails had been washed away in the floods of a few years ago and we crossed the footbridge over to bustling town centre. Dawlish is on the cream-tea route and two coaches were picking up their passengers for the next part of their tour. We chose to grab a coffee and a cake at a small bakers shop and amazingly were able to once again sit outside (left upper). We ate quickly as a pesky seagull watched our every move. Afterwards we wandered round the gardens, observing the famous black swans (left lower) and then returned to the station.
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Dawlish to Torquay
This was our final trip. Would it be a fitting finale to our weekend in Devon ? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well you need very dark glasses to appreciate a Pacer Ė for that was our final train (above left). One of 140 remaining in service (yes, that many) it is basically a Leyland National bus on rails and this class of train is the staple of the Exmouth to Torquay service. We limped out of Dawlish, meandered through tunnels and round bends before skirting the banks of the river Teign (above middle) and arriving in Torre (above right). This is the nearest station to the coach station in Torquay and it was our final destination.
|All photos take in July 2017. Click to enlarge photos or play clips.|
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Photo-Transport has been publishing themed articles about Public Transport for over 15 years.
If you enjoyed the above article you may be interested in these articles which were first published in February 2004 and August 2015.
Towns in Focus
Trains on a sunny summer day
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