Most visitors to the West Country choose to arrive by car but the best way to see the beautiful coastal scenery of Devon and Cornwall is by local train. Even more exciting is a trip on one of the restored steam trains which run through glorious countryside with all the nostalgic sounds of a real steam engine.
Paignton to Dartmouth (Steam)
This superb trip runs along the Torbay coastline and through the wooded hills of the Dart Estuary near the historic town of Totnes. At the journey's end a ferry takes passengers from Kingswear station across to the pretty harbour town of Dartmouth. Combining the rail journey with a boat cruise up the Dart River is a wonderful way to enjoy the Devon scenery at its finest.
Camborne to Penzance
The distance between Hayle on the north coast of Cornwall and Penzance on the south coast is just over 7 miles (12km). The local train runs from Camborne via Hayle to Penzance through some gorgeous scenery. Taking the train avoids searching for a parking spot in Penzance, which can be costly.
Exeter to Plymouth
The railway line from Exeter to Plymouth runs for part of the journey right along the coast, passing through some delightful towns such as Dawlish, Teignmouth, Totnes and Ivybridge. Direct trains can make the journey in less than an hour but the slower trains, which are far more scenic, take 1 hour 40 minutes.
Liskeard to Looe
Although the drive from Liskeard to Looe is only 8 miles, the train is a delightful 30 minute journey cutting through farms and rural communities en route to the sea. The final part of the journey runs right along the East Looe River between the narrow road and the water's edge. At high tide it is a lovely scene with the boats bobbing in the harbour.
Looe is a notably difficult place to park and the narrow streets are traffic free, so taking the train is a particularly good way to avoid the stress of negotiating the single-track road and the hassle of parking.
Bodmin to Plymouth
A day out in the historic port of Plymouth with its excellent shops and Royal Naval history is a great trip for those enjoying a holiday in Devon or Cornwall. Bodmin, in northeast Cornwall, has ample parking space and trains into Plymouth are regular. The scenic journey takes around 40 minutes and runs along the Fowey River Valley for a time with stops at Liskeard, St Germans and Saltash before crossing very slowly over the River Tamar which is the boundary between Devon and Cornwall.
The Royal Albert Bridge was one of the last to be designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1848. The two main spans are local landmarks. Plymouth railway station is just a short walk from the shops and main sights of the city including Plymouth Hoe and the historic Barbican waterfront.
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