If time is more important to you than a few pounds, Newton Abbot (which is on the main line and has lots of direct trains from Paddington) is only about 6 miles from Torquay, so it's very do-able by taxi. Depending on where you stay, some hotels may even offer to collect you from NA anyway (mine did).
I usually use the National Rail Enquiries to look for train times etc, but then buy my tickets at Torquay Station. It is preferable to book a seat which costs no extra, but there is a carriage available for non booked seats.
Newton Abbot is the usual place to change trains, but it is a small place so is quite simple. I am older and have no problems.
I suggest travelling with small baggage if possible which can be placed on the overhead rack. The luggage area could be out of sight from your seat, and losses do occur from there.
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