There’s a certain nostalgic magic about travelling by train. And nowhere more so than these scenic journeys on Cornwall railways. 

Here’s our guide to 5 scenic journeys on Cornwall railways:

  1. The Atlantic Coast Line – Par to Newquay
  2. Tamar Valley Line – Plymouth to Gunnislake
  3. Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway – Bodmin
  4. Looe Valley Line – Liskeard to Looe
  5. St Ives Bay Line – St Erth to St Ives

Standing on the platform eagerly awaiting the train. Making your way through the carriages to find your seat, hoping you’ve got the window spot to make the most of the views. Sitting back and relaxing as the train carries you to your destination. The anticipation building as you head closer to your arrival.

But, a train journey isn’t always about the destination. A scenic rail journey can be a wonderful way to spend a day and gain a unique view of the stunning countryside.

And, nowhere is there more to see by train than beautiful Cornwall.

Whatever the weather, a train ride across Cornwall is a fantastic way to discover the Duchy. From lush green countrysides to picturesque beaches and wild seascapes, Cornwall has an incredibly diverse landscape, all enjoyable by Cornwall’s railways.

And, with St Ives having its own station, when you spend a break in the beautiful harbour town, heading out on a great scenic rail journey across Cornwall couldn’t be easier. 

So, read on for our guide to five great scenic Cornwall railways. Because with routes like these, it’s not just about the destination; the beauty is in the journey. 

1. Atlantic Coast Line

Route from St Ives: 2 changes – St Ives to St Erth, St Erth to Par, Par to Newquay.

Duration: 52 minutes (2 hours 34 from St Ives)

Distance: 20 miles 

Cost*: From Par – standard return £10.40.

From St Ives – standard return £22.40 – £29.30, first-class return £37.70.

Calls at: Luxulyan, Bugle, Roche, St Columb Road, Quintrell Downs and Par.

Dogs allowed: Dogs permitted on the trains.

About the Journey: Newquay has long been a favourite destination for visitors to Cornwall. With 11 stunning sandy beaches to choose from and some of the top surfing conditions in Europe, it’s no surprise. However, when you travel the Atlantic Coast Line, you’ll be treated to picturesque views beyond those of the postcard-perfect beaches. This train ride from Par to Newquay rolls through the gorgeous Luxulyan Valley and Goss Moor before emerging from the wilderness with a glimpse of the Atlantic ocean. 

Ale lovers may wish to take advantage of being car-free on this journey by taking part in the Rail Ale Trail, stopping off at various pubs along the Atlantic Coast Line; find out more here. Once you’ve arrived in Newquay there are a whole host of wonderful shops, cafes and galleries to enjoy. 

2. Tamar Valley Line – Plymouth to Gunnislake

Route from St Ives: 2 changes – St Ives to St Erth, St Erth to Plymouth, Plymouth to Gunnislake

Duration: 48 minutes (3 hours 19 from St Ives)

Distance: 14 miles 

Cost*: From Plymouth – standard return £12.60. 

From St Ives – standard return £22.60 – £30.10, first-class return £25.00 – £35.00

Calls at: Plymouth, Devonport, Dockyard, Keyham, St Budeaux, Bere Ferrers, Bere Alston, Calstock and Gunnislake.

Dogs allowed: Dogs permitted on the trains. 

About the Journey: While technically not entirely in Cornwall, the Tamar Valley line traverses the Cornwall-Devon border as it follows the winding River Tamar. This beautiful 14-mile branch line meanders through the South West countryside, through luscious green fields, quaint villages and stunning river crossings. 

Travellers can expect to take in the sights of Plymouth’s historic sights such as the Royal Naval Dockyard and Brunel’s Tamar Bridge. But the highlight of the journey has to be the train’s slow crawl across the Calstock Viaduct. At 120-feet above the river below, you’ll be treated to views of the Tamar valley, look closely and you’ll spot the Cotehele house tucked away in the woods. 

3. Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway

Route from St Ives: 2 changes – St Ives to St Erth, St Erth to Bodmin Parkway, Bodmin Parkway to Boscarne Junction.

Duration: 2 hours (3 hours 35 from St Ives)

Distance: 6.5 miles.

Cost*: St Ives to Bodmin Parkway – standard return £22.60, first-class return £53.00. Through tickets from Bodmin Parkway to Bodmin and Wenford must be purchased from a First Great Western ticket office. More information can be found here.

Calls at: Bodmin Parkway, Colesloggett Halt, Bodmin General Station and Boscarne Junction. 

Dogs allowed: Dogs permitted on the trains, £1 per ticket.

About the Journey: To experience a real piece of Cornish history, why not take a journey on a fully working steam train with Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway? The journey begins with a dramatic climb and a sharp curve to cross a viaduct spanning the River Fowey, providing passengers with views out across the river.

The steam journey continues through Charlie’s Gate, named for the Duke of Cornwall, and Colesloggett Halt. The Halt is a perfect place to alight for a walk through the nearby Cardinham Woods.

The route continues to climb through the North Cornwall countryside, reaching its highest point at Quarry Curve, before stopping at Bodmin General station half a mile from Bodmin town. Styled to reflect a typical 1950’s station, there’s retro charm aplenty at Bodmin General, in keeping with the nostalgia of steam travel.

4. Looe Valley Line

Route from St Ives: 2 changes – St Ives to St Erth, St Erth to Liskeard, Liskeard to Looe.

Duration: 30 minutes (2 hours 54 from St Ives)

Distance: 9 miles 

Cost*: From Liskeard – standard return £9.00.

From St Ives – standard return £22.60, first-class return £39.50.

Calls at: Coombe Junction Halt, St Keyne Wishing Well Halt, Causeland, Sandplace and Looe.

Dogs allowed: Dogs permitted on the trains.

About the Journey: Linking the historic market town of Liskeard with the quaint fishing port of Looe, this branch line takes passengers on a scenic journey through the Looe Valley. Expect to be treated to a myriad of stunning views as the train winds its way through the valley towards the sea. 

Bird watchers should make sure to keep their eyes peeled along the journey, especially at low tide, as the River Looe is often filled with wading birds such as Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Oystercatchers and Curlews. After the train delivers you to your final destination,  take a short walk into the charming village of Looe where the river widens out into the sea. Once in the village, take advantage of the beautiful beaches, bustling pubs or embark on a stunning coastal walk before it’s time to head back to Liskeard. 

5. St Erth to St Ives Bay Line

View overlooking Carbis bay in Cornwall and the railway line from the St Ives Bay Line.

Route from St Ives: No changes.

Duration: 10 minutes

Distance: 4.25 miles 

Cost*: Standard return £6.00.

Calls at: St Ives, Carbis Bay and St Erth.

Dogs allowed: Dogs permitted on the trains.

About the Journey: We couldn’t write this guide without including St Ives’s own beautiful Bay Line. Short but sweet, this branch line is a 10-minute journey between St Ives and St Erth, calling at Carbis Bay. Hugging the coastline, this train ride treats passengers to stunning ocean views right from the off as the train picks you up straight from the beach at St Ives station.

Most passengers opt to start their journey at St Erth and head into St Ives for the day, avoiding the hunt for a parking spot in St Ives. But, at just £6 for a return journey, even those already in St Ives should consider heading out on this short but stunning train ride to make the most of the incredible views. Trust us, they’re worth it. 

Travelling on these scenic Cornwall railways is a fantastic way to take in the natural beauty of the county. And, when you stay in one of our luxury St Ives cottages, whichever route you choose to visit, you can easily explore Cornwall by train from St Ives station.

By: Tony Townsend On:30th January 2020
Categories:Blog,Holiday Ideas,Local Area,Things to Do,Uncategorised

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