I’m on the train from Exeter St David’s to Plymouth after spending the day within the stuffy confines of a training room.

A train at Exeter St David’s station

Whenever I travel by train to or from “Up North”, this the part of the journey I always enjoy the most: views of Exeter Cathedral, the Exe estuary, the coast and the sea, the Teign estuary, tiny villages and hamlets, Dartmoor.

I’m sure there are more scenic railway journeys in the world, a few, of which I have enjoyed or endured, but this one is different, to me, personally, as it takes me both toward and from home, whichever direction I travel.

Not only is the route beautiful but some of the places the train rattles through are beautifully and evocatively named; Starcross, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Totnes, Rattery, Wrangaton, Bittaford, Ivybridge, Laira and Mutley. Just try NOT to imagine a cunning and adventurous story, in your head, when you think of or see them!

Starcross always reminds me of Llaregub in Under Milk Wood;
Dawlish, bounded by rusty-red cliffs, gives me a mystery from the great days of steam;
Teignmouth harbour alludes to some nautical epic up there with Moby Dick;
Totnes, with its castle and Georgian buildings evokes a Medieval battle or Thomas Hardy-esque tale of endurance and hardship;
Rattery, surrounded by greenery, yields tales of deceit;
Wrangaton and Bittaford, on the old Roman road, stagecoach evoke plundering highwaymen, with their call of “Stand and deliver! Your money or your life!”;
Laira, before the coming of the railway was a busy waterway with several inlets, rife with tales of smuggling in depths of the night;
Mutley, a suburb of Plymouth, could have been and murderous place to dwell or visit.
Then, of course, there is Plymouth itself; now what couldn’t happen there?

Yes, the imagination is a wonderful thing!