New promotion launched to encourage people to visit local pubs by train

Devon launch of the Salisbury-Exeter Rail Ale Trail at The Vine Inn and Tea Room

A new promotion has been launched to encourage people from near and far to visit local pubs by train.

The Salisbury – Exeter Rail Ale Trail includes 19 pubs along the railway that links the two cities, all of them within easy reach of the stations in the towns and villages it serves.

One of the pubs included is the Vine Inn and Tearoom in Honiton, a short walk from Honiton station. The Devon launch of the Rail Ale Trail was held there on Wednesday 15 May (pictured above). Further up the line that afternoon, the Dorset launch was held at the Digby Tap in Sherborne (pictured below).

The Salisbury – Exeter Rail Ale Trail has been organised by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership and Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership working with South Western Railway. It joins a family of Rail Ale Trails for branch lines in Devon and Cornwall run by the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership.

Details of the new Rail Ale Trail can be found, with all the others, at where there is also a special Stamp Sheet to print out.

At each participating pub, ‘Trailers’ can collect a stamp when buying a drink by showing their stamp sheet and train ticket. Once they have collected ten stamps, ‘Trailers’ can claim a free special Rail Ale Trail t-shirt by sending the stamped sheet and rail ticket to the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. One of the stamps can be for having a meal at the pub.

Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership said: “The Salisbury – Exeter Rail Ale Trail is all about encouraging people to explore the places served by the line and to visit local pubs, thereby helping the local economy.”

Paula Aldridge, Community Rail Manager for South Western Railway said: “We’re delighted to be involved with such an imaginative way to explore the railway network in a beautiful part of the country while supporting some of the small and independent businesses which are the lifeblood of their local communities.”

Derek Beer, Chairman of Blackmore Vale CRP said: “The Rail Ale trail gives another really good incentive for locals and visitors to explore our towns and villages and enjoy a decent drink and bite to eat at the same time. Our pubs and Inns are the heart of our rural towns and villages, and a visit so often unlocks a host of local information and history.

“It is quite an exciting adventure to set out on the train without the worry of ‘going over the limit’ and being environmentally sound as well. The T shirt that is the reward for visiting all on the trail is really good quality and a great souvenir. It’s the first time that we have done anything like this, and it’s great to be doing it with the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, and when adventurers have completed ours, they might like to take the train further West to explore even more delights.”

Councillor Phil Twiss, who represents Honiton and Feniton on Devon County Council, joined the Devon launch. He said: “The Salisbury-Exeter Rail Ale Trail highlights the ease of traveling by rail to visit places people might not ordinarily have considered, like Honiton, which offers a mix of things to see and do, enjoying places like the family owned and operated Vine Inn and Tearoom.”

The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership and Blackmore Vale Community Rail Partnership are both non-profit bodies dedicated to making the most of the railways they work on, for the benefit of all. Both are partnerships between local authorities and the rail industry.

Top photo L-R: Cllr Jenny Brown (Honiton Town Council), Richard Burningham (Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership), Chris Hawkins (The Vine Inn), Cllr Phil Twiss (Devon County Councillor for Honiton and Feniton), Paula Aldridge (South Western Railway). Photo taken by Dave Withey.

Second photo L-R: The team at Sherborne’s Digby Tap with Derek Beer (Blackmore Vale CRP), Richard Burningham (Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership), Paula Aldridge (South Western Railway) and Cllr Jon Andrews (Dorset Council).