Posted in Railways on Saturday 13th June 2009 at 7:31pm

I've always sort of regarded the South Devon Railway as my 'local' preserved line. Yes, there are some closer, but the attitude of some lines to diesel traction leaves something to be desired. Somehow, this neat little line with two active diesel preservation groups always manages to turn out a good showing - and their gala weekend is always entertaining. So, onto the first train south for a fairly quiet trip to Totnes. The weather brightened, and I enjoyed a pleasant walk from the mainline station to Littlehempston for the first working of the day - a special using the line's Class 122 railcar taking us to Buckfastleigh in time for the first loco-hauled service back down the line. A good, noisy start to the day's proceedings with the staff clearly enjoying the trip just as much as the few early-bird punters!

This time around, the South Devon had elected to use just their home fleet. This meant plenty of action for their pair of Class 20s, and the next trip down saw 20110 handling a set of clean, tidy and comfortable stock with no problem at all. Plenty of people seemed to be arriving too, which gave proceedings a little more atmosphere. Real Ale bars on both active sets was a nice touch too. The big event of the weekend though, was the return to traffic of 33002 'Sea King' which had recently returned from display at Eastleigh 100 following four years of extensive repair and refurbishment. Still looking pristine in 'Dutch' livery, 33002 joined the train at Buckfastleigh and made a speedy and noisy departure. Fantastic entertainment and bound to produce some interesting photographs from the many lineside camera-folk.

33002 crawls into Staverton
33002 crawls into Staverton

Settled into a pattern of heading up and down the line, enjoying a bite to eat and coffee, and generally enjoying the day. Still somewhat bewildered though, by the vast collection of garden gnomes which cluster on the embankment shortly after leaving Totnes! Gnomes appear in various spots around the railway, but not nearly in such an abundance as here. I'm not sure of their significance at all. In any case, the timetable was arranged perfectly, allowing the discerning enthusiast the opportunity to travel on all of the various combinations of stock and loco, including the DMU which did some in-fill services to Staverton. The loco changes were accomplished very swiftly, and delays were kept to a minimum despite the tight turn-around times. After the less effective arrangements at the Mid Hants a couple of weeks ago, this was a refreshing change. Managed a trip along the line on all of the participating locos, including D7612 and the absolutely storming D6737 which has provided many entertaining runs on the South Devon.

D7612 (25262) departs from Totnes
D7612 (25262) departs from Totnes

As some serious looking clouds were drifting over, decided to call it a day after a few last pictures at Totnes. Soon back to the station and heading homewards on a busy Voyager full of holidaymakers. Another excellent day on my favourite preserved line - but most importantly the staff were fantastic, interested and not at all snobbish about the diesel weekend displacing more family steam heritage traction. Add the decent weather for most of the day and the rather good food served on-board, and you have a recipe for the perfect gala. I'm much looking forward to the next diesel event, where they hope to feature some guest locos too.

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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