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Car free days out in Cornwall

"Let the train take the strain" is a great philosophy for those wanting to explore Cornwall without the hassle of reversing along single track roads and searching for car parking at your final destination. With the following train rides all the family can enjoy the great scenery and the magical experience of train travel en route to some splendid Cornish destinations.

Truro to St Ives

A great journey from Cornwall’s south to north coast can be enjoyed over the moorland on top of Carn Brea (pronounced Carn Bray) to St Erth connecting with the branch line to St Ives.

Once the spires of Truro have been left behind, the railway travels over gorse-covered moors dotted with ancient relics such as the Carn Brea Castle and Monument and the roofless engine houses from abandoned tin mines. Look for the black and white Cornish flag flying from Redruth church tower before arriving in St Erth. You may need to change trains here to join the local train to St Ives, but a short wait is no bad thing. The buffet at St Erth is listed as one of the top 10 railways cafés in the UK!

The single track line to St Ives was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel to transport fish. The 4½ mile journey takes 12 minutes as it dawdles and winds its way along one of the most scenic stretches of track in Britain. It passes the old Lelant Saltings and the Hayle estuary, through the blasted rockface at Carrick Gladden Head and emerges on the clifftop above the sheltered harbour town of St Ives Bay.

Spend time wandering the alleyways, galleries and seafront of this artist’s enclave or visit Tate St Ives before making the return journey.

Truro to Falmouth

Running south from Truro down the Fal Estuary, this route is actually known as the Maritime Line. Stay aboard for the entire 24 minute journey with stops at Perranwell, Penryn, Penmere, Falmouth town and finally Falmouth Docks, or hop off and take one of the nine walks which start from the Maritime Line railway stations. Routes include a 3 mile walk around Perranwell Village, a five mile walk from Penryn to Falmouth or a circular walk around Penmere. Alternatively, spend the day at the National Maritime Museum on Falmouth’s waterfront.

Liskeard to Looe

Further east, the Looe Valley Line starts on the outskirts of Liskeard, a small town which still has a cattle market every Thursday. The railway meanders down the wooded river valley passing the remains of the old Liskeard-Looe Union Canal along the way.

St Keyne, out in the sticks, is the home of the Magnificent Music Machines Museum as well as a Holy Well. After the stop at Causeland, the houses of Duloe appear, home to an ancient stone circle and an impressive 13th century church. Next stop is Sandplace where sand was once unloaded and spread on the fields as fertilizer. The final stage into the pretty fishing village of Looe is along the estuary, the carriage wheels seeming to touch the water in places.

Browse the local shops, enjoy an ice cream by the banjo pier or walk across the seven-arch bridge and along West Looe to Hannafore Point with scenic views of Looe Island.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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