I love train travel, particularly visiting those branch lines which have lots of personality and places of interest. Britain has lots of great little train journeys, and here are five interesting branch lines in Cornwall.
Liskeard is a busy and lively traditional Cornish market town, the town centre is a ten minute walk from the station, has several independent shops along its main shopping street, and a number of cafes, restaurants and pubs. Catch the branch line here for trip to Looe. The station is five minutes’ walk from the town centre and about 10 from the beach and the famous Banjo Pier. The Looe Valley Line gives access to some fantastic walking and cycling routes.
Departing from Par on the main line, the Atlantic Coast Line travels through the beautiful wooded Luxulyan Valley, and on across Goss Moor with distant views of the white lunar landscape of the Cornish China Clay industry. Then enjoy the coastal resort of Newquay, acknowledged as one of the finest stretches of coastline in Europe, with its wonderful sandy beaches, shops, cafes and high Atlantic waves. Newquay station is in the centre of town and within easy reach of many places to visit such as the beautiful Trenance Gardens, Newquay Zoo and Blue Reef Aquarium.
Cornwall’s only city, Truro is an interesting place to explore with specialist shops and splendid Georgian architecture. Places to visit include the Cathedral and Royal Cornwall Museum. Falmouth is a premier holiday resort with excellent beaches, public gardens with sub-tropical plants, picturesque shopping streets and a magnificent natural harbour. The town’s maritime past is celebrated in The National Maritime Museum Cornwall, located just a two minute walk from Falmouth Town station. Boat trips depart from the Prince of Wales Pier, and provide superb views of the twin castles of Pendennis and St Mawes.
Quite possibly the most scenic branch line in Britain, it’s the best way to arrive in St Ives and to visit the Tate Gallery. Join the branch line from the main line station of St Erth, or use the Park and Ride facilities at Lelant Saltings. Soak up the dramatic views as the line sweeps alongside the golden sands of Hayle Towans, through Carbis Bay and onto St Ives with panoramic vistas of craggy cliffs and the colourful harbour. The little lanes and streets that criss-cross St Ives can best be appreciated on foot. Explore into the heart of this historic and picturesque town with its many shops, galleries, pubs and restaurants.
A lovely country branch line, this 14 mile railway departs Plymouth and skirts the edge of the magnificent River Tamar which forms a natural border between Devon and Cornwall. The line crosses the splendid Calstock viaduct and is full of contrasts, taking in views of the Royal Naval Dockyard in Plymouth and Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge over the Tamar, before crossing the Tavy viaduct into the quiet countryside of the Bere Peninsula. As the train climbs towards Gunnislake, remnants of the area’s industrial past are visible, together with glimpses of orchards still cultivated by market gardeners. The scenic views and landscapes of the Tamar Valley make a trip on the line an experience in its own right.