Although debatably the
furthest away part of England,
Cornwall is easily reached by road, rail or air.
We recommend you treat yourself
to at least three days in this fascinating part of England, and
if time allows, why not make it four or more.
Here are some ideas about getting around.
Land of Myth and Mystery
Part 4 : Touring To and Around Cornwall
Beautiful gently rolling countryside
and farmland in Cornwall.
Get to Cornwall
the pilot sees - the beautiful approach into Newquay
Click this image to open a larger size map showing the
complete rail network in Cornwall.
Click this image to open a larger size map showing the
major roads from Exeter to the end of Cornwall.
A 1955 (approx) British Railways poster extolling Penzance
as a rail destination.
The major airport in Cornwall is
in Newquay (NQY), which is also more or less centrally located
within the Duchy. The airport is
well regarded and currently offers direct flights to
22 destinations in England, Scotland, Ireland and Europe.
As an alternative, you could consider flying to
slightly larger Exeter Airport, which has service to/from
more destinations, but is some distance to the west of
Cornwall, in the middle of Devon, the next county 'over'
If you are already in the London area in particular,
you would probably drive or take a train. Due to the
short distances involved, it really only makes sense to
fly to Cornwall if you are starting your travels from
further away than London.
Train service runs
on a single main line from Exeter, southwest to
Penzance, with branches off to the north and south.
The main operator is the Great Western Railway franchise,
with service offered on the main line by CrossCountry,
Great Western trains leave from London's Paddington
station. South West Trains also provide service from
Waterloo to Exeter where you'd then change to a
CrossCountry or Great Western train for the rest of the
Great Western also operate night sleeper trains,
leaving Paddington shortly before midnight and arriving at
Penzance just before 8am. The train from Penzance to
London leaves just before 10pm and arrives at 5.30am but
you can stay on the train until 7am.
If you are traveling from destinations north of London,
it is probably possible to avoid the tiresome process of
traveling to London, changing train station in London,
then traveling out again. York and Birmingham are
useful stations to change to CrossCountry trains.
If you are driving, you'll not have any motorways
(freeways) to speed you on your journey. The M5 ends
in Exeter. The main road from Exeter and almost all
the way to Land's End is the A30, which for most of the
way is a regular one lane in each direction highway,
occasionally breaking into dual carriageway for short
As well as the A30 which goes more or less down the
middle, there are other minor roads that are at times
close to both the north and south coasts, and well worth
making the extra effort to drive on.
Travel Times To/From Penzance
To give you a perspective of total travel time,
here's a list of other places and the travel distance/time
between there and Penzance, for driving in a car.
(Trains from London to Penzance take anywhere between 5
and 7 hours.)
This list ignores the time you spend sightseeing along
the way and any extra distance caused by detouring off the
to Stay in Cornwall
Looe in the evening twilight from the other side of the
Rumps Point, just south of Port Isaac, in the setting sun
on a summer's eve.
Part of the evocative ruins at Tintagel Castle, rumored to
be the home of the Round Table, King Arthur, and Merlin.
How high is up? How long should you stay in
Cornwall? In both cases, the answer is 'it depends'.
If you're on your umpteenth visit to Britain, and are
running out of other places to see and do, then of course,
you might end up spending a week or more, enjoying a
thorough and relaxing exploration of the region.
But if this is your first ever visit to Britain, and
you only have a week in total, we'd actually suggest you
don't go to Cornwall at all. There are probably
better ways to fill your first ever week in Britain.
For most people, though, we suggest you consider two
nights and most of three days in Cornwall. The third
part of our article series gives you
suggestions on what to see
during your time in Cornwall.
The basic itinerary would have you driving from
somewhere to Penzance or St Ives on Day 1, stopping at
some places on the way.
On Day 2, you'd tour around the southwest tip of
Cornwall, and spend a second night at the same place you
were at the previous night.
On Day 3, you'd head on out of Cornwall again, stopping
at some places on the way.
Naturally, you should do your driving to/from Penzance
or St Ives in a loop - perhaps traveling down to there on
the south coast, and back from there along the north
coast, or vice versa, depending on where you were coming
from and going to.
This three day suggestion assumes you have most of days 1 and 3 to spend in
Cornwall. If you will need to spend all of either or
both those days traveling, then perhaps you should add
another night in Cornwall, or break your journey to/from
Cornwall and add another night somewhere between Cornwall
and your previous/next destination.
Travelling Around Cornwall
Lizard Point and its lighthouse, the southern most tip of
Mousehole and the coastline north - another of Cornwall's
gorgeously beautiful tiny villages and fishing ports.
If you look again at the rail map, above, you'll see that not many of the
towns in Cornwall are connected to each other by rail.
If you wanted a quick easy overview experience of
Cornwall, you could certainly travel by train to Penzance,
and take the train one day over to St Ives, and take a day
sightseeing coach tour out of Penzance to see some of the adjoining areas
But if you want to see more of the region, and more
independently, you really need to have a car.
Many of the roads in Cornwall are good, but if you
start exploring a bit off the main routes, you will
encounter the occasional narrow and sometimes one-way
road, sometimes with limited visibility and blind corners. For example, if you choose to visit Mousehole,
that will definitely have you using your driving skills
more than you probably do back home.
In all seriousness, this is a good reason to rent the
smallest car you are comfortable with. You'll find
it much easier in the narrow lanes when you go exploring
off the major roads. Drive cautiously and carefully,
and you should be fine.
4 of a 4 part series about Cornwall. -
Please visit the other parts of this article series - click for
1. An Introduction to Cornwall
Where to Stay in Cornwall
3. What to See in Cornwall
4. Touring To and Around Cornwall
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03 Jan 2018, last update
04 Jan 2018
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