Car-free adventures aroundBodminCornwall
GWR's beautiful main line from London Paddington takes just four hours to reach Bodmin Parkway, making this ancient town a great car-free hub. The journey is far quicker and pleasanter by train. And the countryside around Bodmin is stuffed with beautiful destinations, from the stately home at Lanhydrock to the Camel Valley vineyard, that you can reach without a car. We've added a few tips at the end on buses, bikes and where to stay.
1. Arrive by train
Our Bodmin car-free adventures begin with a train journey to Bodmin Parkway station. It is one of the UK’s finest scenic railways. From Exeter, the landscapes begin to get seriously beautiful. Running beside a wide, wild estuary and then along the coast, there are miles of fabulous views. Where motorists are snarled up round Exeter Services, train passengers can relax with a picnic and enjoy seaside vibe. The railway also crosses several viaducts, bridging valleys in the rolling Cornish countryside.
- Look out for wading birds on the low tide sands, interesting red rock formations along the Dawlish coast and for the pretty River Tiddy near St Germans.
- The view from the Royal Albert Bridge over the wide River Tamar is probably the best among a huge choice of terrific train window vistas. Sit on the left if you can for expansive views over estuary and ocean.
- If you’re peckish when you get to Bodmin Parkway, don’t miss the homemade cakes in the signal box café.
- Bodmin has plenty for car-free visitors, whether by train (or steam train), bus, bike or foot. Arriving by rail (from Exeter, London or beyond), bus 11 runs from Bodmin Parkway station into town (or you can catch the steam train – see 3. below). Cornwall’s former county town and “historic heart” is the point where two old trading routes cross and the only Cornish town in the Domesday Book.
- The station itself is a lovely, leafy place to wait and is also the jumping-off point for several destinations nearby…
2. Walk to Lanhydrock
- A beautiful 1¾ mile walk from the railway station, via a mossy tunnel and riverside path, takes visitors to the house and colourful gardens and Lanhydrock offers a 10% discount in the shop or restaurant when you arrive car-free (show your train ticket at the gatehouse for a voucher).
- This walk, along the estate’s former carriage drive, is not just an efficient way to reach Lanhydrock House from Bodmin Parkway station; it’s a great walk in its own right – with views across the valley, towering ornamental trees and peaceful fields of cows.
- Take the signed track from the station car park along a fern-fringed walkway beside the River Fowey. Cross a lane near a small lodge house and go on along the winding drive beyond, joining a huge avenue that leads you straight to the gatehouse.
- Explore the sloping, wooded gardens, old church and herbaceous borders. Have a look round the fifty-odd rooms inside the house itself, including the copper-gleaming kitchen and the 17th-century Long Gallery, its ceiling covered in plaster birds and animals.
- Enjoy 10% off a cream tea at the Stableyard café, a full meal in the restaurant or souvenirs from the gift shop before setting off back to the station. If you don’t want to go into Lanhydrock itself, ask at the gatehouse for directions to the new Park café nearby. The track is mostly downhill on the way back as it heads gently down towards the River Fowey.