Car-free adventures aroundNewquayCornwall

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Twelve sandy beaches, world-class walking, several scenic bus rides and a tropical zoo all make Newquay a great car-free destination. You can reach Newquay by train from Par (see 3 below) or by bus along the coast from Padstow (see 4 below). Summer is really busy in this popular town, but head off the beaten track and you’ll still find quieter coves and cliff paths to explore… Come back in peaceful springtime to see dolphins in the harbour or lambs on the farm and in mellow autumn to explore the Luxulyan Valley's beech woods in all their golden glory. At any time of year, Newquay makes a great base for a staycation. Scroll to the end for tips on buses, bikes and places to stay.

  • County: Cornwall
  • Great for: beaches | family fun | ferry | Picnics | scenic bus and train | TV locations | zoo |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and more
  • Please note: researched/updated in June 2021. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 3. Luxulyan by train

    The Luxulyan Valley is a former mining area that has now become a magical nature reserve. You can get there easily from Luxulyan station, on the scenic branch line that runs between south-coast Par and Newquay, across cotton-grassed Goss Moor.

    • Branded the Atlantic Coast Line, this pretty twenty-mile railway costs just £5.40 for a day return along the whole route.
    • Tell the guard to stop the train at Luxulyan village. The King’s Arms pub is just a few steps from the station. The local church is worth a look too – go back over the bridge and up the hill. Dedicated to Saints Julitta and Cyriacus, it may have been founded by Welsh missionary monks in the sixth century.
    • This is one of twelve churches along a 30-mile route called the Saints Way, which runs between Padstow and Fowey.
    • You’ll see the Saints Way arrows heading towards the Luxulyan Valley (see map below). Wander a lovely mile through mossy oaks and fern-fringed waterways. In spring, foxgloves and bluebells sprout beside old tramlines and forgotten cascades. In autumn, the beech woods around the monumental Treffrey viaduct turn copper and gold.
    • Towering thirty metres over the wooded path, this huge granite viaduct, set in a UNESCO-listed valley, is even more impressive close-up. You can walk back along the road or return the way you came. Either way makes a pleasant couple of miles’ walk.
  1. 4. Bedruthan Steps by bus

    These huge mussel-cloaked stacks of granite punctuate the distinctive view from the café at Carnewas. Legend has it that the Cornish giant Bedruthan used the rocks as stepping stones. Once a popular Victorian beauty spot, the cliffs are now managed by the National Trust.

    • The open-topped Atlantic Coaster bus, leaving daily every hour from Newquay’s bus station or Great Western Hotel, stops at Carnewas. Climb down the steep adventurous path to the beautiful beach. Or simply admire the view from the tea room at the top.
    • The Atlantic Coaster also provides another scenic (if leisurely) way to arrive in Newquay; it connects with bus 10 from Bodmin.
    • Either way, it’s a great route. The road climbs, through hedges of honeysuckle and banks topped with frondy tamarisk, to the cliffs above Watergate Bay. While cars wind blindly through the sunken Cornish lanes, top-deck vistas from the A5 take in idyllic sandy coves like Harlyn Bay or wisteria-draped villages like St Mawgan.
    • At the far end of the hour-long bus ride, you reach popular Padstow, with its harbour-side shops and cafes. From here, you can catch the ferry over to Rock across the lovely Camel Estuary, a very regular service that costs £4 return.
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    Here’s a bit more practical info if you’re planning a staycation in Newquay.

    • Dayrider tickets, valid on all buses, are currently a bargain £5 (or £10 for the whole family) and give unlimited trips all over Cornwall.
    • If the bus journeys are local and on the same day that you arrive or leave by train, you can get a bargain PlusBus ticket for unlimited bus rides around the Newquay area.
    • You can hire bikes from Coastal Trail Cycle Hire.
    • There are lots of places to stay in Newquay. The Great Western Hotel is right by the train station and bus stop with doubles from £50/night. AirBnB has suggestions and there are dozens of regular B&Bs too.
    • Along the Atlantic Coaster bus route towards Padstow, there are some fancier choices like the new Pig Hotel, that opened in 2020 on a tree-lined lane above Harlyn village (Small doubles from £150, room only). Or check out the Bedruthan Hotel and Spa at Mawgan Porth, one minute away from Gwel-an-mor bus stop (Doubles from £139, B&B). It’s a stylish, art-filled resort with a pool and hot tubs. Before Covid-19, the hotel had a policy of giving car-free guests a free bottle of fizz when they showed bus tickets (or walking boots!) at reception.
  • Stile in woods - spotted on our Newquay car-free adventures
  • Viaduct in woodland - spotted on our Newquay car-free adventures
  • Bedruthan Steps - spotted on our Newquay car-free adventures
  • Padstow Ferry - spotted on our Newquay car-free adventures