Every year I make the trip to Devon by train for a holiday, booking tickets in advance to ensure I get the cheapest fare available. Whilst you can travel from London Waterloo with South Western Railway, I travelled from the city via London Paddington with GWR all the way to Torquay.
Before you board the train to Devon, why not pop to platform one at Paddington station to see a life-sized bronze statue of Paddington Bear. Typically, the train you'll want to catch leaves from a platform near here as well.
The train has a number of carriages including first class, a quiet coach and buffet car serving a good mix of drinks, snacks and sandwiches. Paddington also has a large number of shops, so you can always grab something from one of the many outlets before you board.
As you pull out of London and start to gather speed, on the left-hand side you can occasionally glimpse one of the many engine sheds, a steam train being maintained or one of the new GWR intercity trains being prepared to enter service.
As you quickly speed through the outskirts of London and enter the rolling countryside, sit back and relax. Before you reach Reading though do look out the window as you cross the river Thames via the Maidenhead Bridge (or Maidenhead viaduct as it also known) where small boats and rowers can often be seen on the water.
After about an hour and 20 minutes as you approach Westbury station, keep an eye out on the left-hand side for a large white horse on the hillside. This is the Westbury or Bratton White Horse, dating from 1812.
The largest station outside of London on this route is Exeter St. David's. A key terminal connecting Devon with Cornwall, the west country and via CrossCountry as far as Edinburgh.
My favourite stretch of this journey starts at Dawlish with 7 miles of sea walls, picturesque villages and breath-taking views of the English coast. Originally part of the South Devon Railway this stretch of track was built using the designs drawn up by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Taking you through a series of tunnels carved in the red cliffs, the railway runs level with the sea wall and footpath for unobstructed views of the sea.
Cutting inland from the sea and heading toward Newton Abbot the train hugs the banks of the river Teign, to your left is the village of Shaldon.
To complete the journey down to Torquay you need to change at Newton Abbot, for a quick 11-minute journey to the English Riviera. In all the trip down to Torquay takes between 3 to 3 and a half hours.
When you leave the train, and exit the station you'll be able to see Torbay, the Grand Hotel and you are just steps away from historic Torre Abbey.
Richard's top tip:
I highly recommend booking a seat on this train, if possible on the left-hand side of the train as you'll get to see some fantastic views out across the countryside, the English coast and numerous seaside towns.