The main route into Southeast Cornwall from the rest of the country is the A38, which joins the south-western end of the M5 motorway at Exeter to the A30 at Bodmin, and bypasses Exeter, south Devon and Plymouth. The road crosses the River Tamar into Cornwall at the Tamar Bridge between Saltash and Plymouth and continues on past Liskeard, along the Fowey Valley to Bodmin, where it meets the A30.
From the M25/M4 junction to Saltash takes about three and a half hours assuming no hold-ups. From the Birmingham / Halesowen turnoff on the M5 takes not much more than three hours, again assuming no hold-ups. Southeast Cornwall is truly closer than you think.
The region’s other major A-roads are the A388 (the main north-south route in the area), the A390, the A387 and the A374 (including the Torpoint Ferry from Torpoint to Plymouth). Apart from these roads, many of our roads can be quite narrow, so it’s worth taking some time to adjust if you’re used to urban driving.
Car hire is possible at several of the region’s railway stations.
Some of our towns and villages have narrow streets. These are picturesque, but bear in mind that parking can be difficult. Looe in particular can be difficult to find parking in during the peak of the summer season. Thankfully, there is a park and ride scheme operating – park at Liskeard Station and take the scenic Looe Valley Line in to Looe.
Southeast Cornwall has fantastic rail links with the rest of the country. First Great Western run frequent trains from London Paddington and Reading that stop at Plymouth, Saltash, Liskeard and Bodmin Parkway, and sometimes St Germans, Menheniot and Lostwithiel. Depending upon how many stops there are up the line, the journey time is usually a little over three and a half hours to Saltash. Note that there are extra trains that stop at Plymouth, so it might be in your best interests to take one of those trains. You might also want to try the Night Riviera Sleeper train, an overnight cabin train from London that stops at Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway and Lostwithiel on its way to Penzance.
Cross Country Trains operate fast inter-city trains from the Midlands and the North of England and Scotland (via Birmingham New Street). These stop at Plymouth and some trains will stop at Bodmin Parkway and Liskeard. It takes about three and a half hours to get from Birmingham to Plymouth and four hours to get to Liskeard.
Once you’re here, you’ll be delighted to find that you can reach quite a lot of Southeast Cornwall by train. The main intercity line features stops at Lostwithiel, Bodmin Parkway, Liskeard , Menheniot, St Germans and Saltash before it gets to Plymouth. There, you can take the picturesque Tamar Valley Line which crosses the River Tavy, the Bere Peninsula and then the Tamar (via the truly stunning Calstock Viaduct) before reaching Gunnislake. At Liskeard, you can get on the Looe Valley Line which takes you through beautiful Southeast Cornwall countryside to Looe. At Bodmin Parkway, you can leave the modern trains behind, and step across the platform to a steam train on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, which runs to Bodmin and Boscarne Junction.
Calstock Viaduct at dusk, image Victoria Clare
By Coach and Bus
National Express coaches stop at Plymouth and Liskeard. There are plenty of local bus services too – check http://www.cornwallpublictransport.info/bus_timetables.asp for details.
You can fly to Newquay-Cornwall airport from Liverpool, Southend, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Norwich, Glasgow, Dusseldorf and St Mary’s (Isles of Scilly).
Brittany Ferries operates a regular car ferry service between Plymouth and Roscoff (Brittany) and Santander (Spain).
Visitors arriving by yacht will find marina facilities at Charlestown, Fowey, Looe, Torpoint, Saltash, Kingsand, Cawsand and Plymouth.
Fowey Harbour, image Barnacle Bird Photography