Wednesday, 28 December 2011

On the fourth day of Christmas . . .

A train ride from Exeter to Totnes. It's the most wonderful journey, running down the Exe estuary then along the coast — right next to it, then up the Teign estuary. Less than thirty miles in all, I think. I'm entranced by it every time I take the train to (or from) Cornwall.

You start out in this wonderful calm, flat seaside place, then turn right on to a section where the train runs in and out of short tunnels, bang next to the sea, separating the towns/villages from the briny. In wet, wild weather, the waves break over the train. Finally, you head inland up through the most mild-mannered of riverscapes – a few bobbing boats, a wooded hillside on the far bank.

Everyone goes quiet for most of the journey.

Here is a small film of it. Warning: it's very amateur, far from the best film, with too many shots of the inside of the carriage and not including anything from the Exe estuary. It does, though, describe itself as a record of the second best rail journey in Britain. Which is the best, though, it doesn't say. Maybe St Erth to St Ives.

PS I also did a gorgeous train journey in Israel this year, taking the old, French-built line from Jerusalem down to the coast. The station is in some odd part of Jerusalem, the original station on the east (Palestinian) side of the old city having been closed for years. The first half hour of the journey is a slow meander down a narrow valley, crossing and recrossing the river. I guess it must have been the old historical route into the city. It's certainly not the quickest. On some of the corners, I reckon you could get out, pick some flowers and cut across in time to get back on the train again.

Till tomorrow . . .


Lo Jardinier said...

Is that the main line to Penzance? Sounds like one I must try. Do you know the Wexford-Dublin line? Best taken after reading Colm Toibin's early novels. We used to live very near the Heart of Wales line, Swansea to Shrewsbury, another favourite, single-carriage branch line solidly rural for three hours. Ours was a request stop, and I remember sayimg to the ticket collector, who I knew slightly, 'Make sure you stop 'cos I don't want to walk back from the next station'.
'Oh, we have been known to stop and reverse if that happens', she replied happily. You don't get that on First Great Western.

Peter Silverton said...

Yes, it is the main line to PZ. What happens when global warming pushes up the sea level is anyone's guess. I do like the request stops on the Falmouth branch line, too