THE age of steam returns to North Devon with fervour this month in the form of what is expected to be the biggest and best Chapelton Steam and Vintage Rally seen for many years. On Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19, Chapelton Barton at Umberleigh o

THE age of steam returns to North Devon with fervour this month in the form of what is expected to be the biggest and best Chapelton Steam and Vintage Rally seen for many years.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 18 and 19, Chapelton Barton at Umberleigh on the A377 will be bursting with more than 400 exhibits from the glories of yesteryear, as veteran and vintage vehicles rub shoulders with huge traction engines, agricultural machinery and mechanisms from another age.

Gates are open 9.30am to 5pm daily, with the 45th annual rally being officially opened by Mayor of Barnstaple Ian Roome at 11am on Saturday. The event offers much to see and do, with full sized and miniature steam engines, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, tractors, military and commercial vehicles in a series of displays and parades.

With the rally just a few short miles from Barnstaple, there is no reason why visitors need miss out on the town's Fair and Carnival either, as Geoff Stanley, chairman of the Devon Traction Engine and vintage Rally Club, explained: "Why not have a day out at the rally, then go along to Barnstaple later to enjoy the fair and carnival? Why not really make a full day of it?" he said.

"You can expect a really fun and entertaining day filled with fascination and nostalgia."

Some rally exhibits will make their way to Barnstaple to join the carnival!

Highlights - which might sound very eco-friendly but actually burned petrol to generate steam!

Appearing again will be a 1912 Burrell steam engine which has spent the past decade being restored by the Shambrook family from Tawstock.

A number of stationary engines, used to power everything from generators to circular saws will be on show and working, together with a remarkable collection of horticultural machinery.

On Saturday and Sunday, Dave "The Plymouth Strongman" will attempt to pull a variety of different sized vehicles.

Along with the time honoured beer tent, food and refreshments, the rally features a model and craft tent.

Shire horse cart rides and traditional fairground rides and stalls, accompanied by the nostalgic sound of pipe organs, will all be available.

On the Saturday evening there is live music from The Texans, with free entry to those who have already paid for rally admission, or £3 at the door on the night.

Entry to the Chapelton rally on either day is just £15 per family, or £6 for adults, concessions £5 and children under 16 years £3 Children under three years free. Camping - including rally entry - is £18 for two nights or £27 for three.

This year's event will be raising money for the Children's Hospice South West and Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

Visit www.dtec.freeuk.com for more information.