One of the most remote parts of England – so much so it’s easier to cross over to France than it is to get to London – the arrival of Newquay airport has opened the county up. With decent rail connections and an intricate network of country roads, getting around Cornwall can be slow going, but the photo opportunities that can be found around most corners are definitely worth it.
Getting around Cornwall
A commercial airport since 2009, Cornwall Airport Newquay handled nearly 400,000 passengers in 2016. Serviced by Aer Lingus, Eurowings, Flybe and Ryanair, you can fly in from Dublin, London, Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow, Alicante and more, with German routes to be added in March 2018.
Just five miles from the centre of Newquay and our Quintrell Downs hotel, the airport is definitely on the small side – there are two coffee shops and only one shop (which does sell Cornish wine amongst other souvenirs) plus an Executive Lounge which costs around £15. If you’re coming by bus, grab the A5 from Newquay and Padstow, while Coastline Travel Cornwall is the only official taxi provider for the airport. You can even get your hire bikes delivered straight to the airport through Go ByCycle. There are several car hire offices including Hertz and Europcar, with 60 minutes of free parking for pick-ups and drop-offs.
If you’d like to explore Cornwall by air, then Land’s End Airport offers 20-minute scenic flights for around £50 per person, and is also home to Skybus who operate daily flights to the Isles of Scilly. Our Camborne hotel is an ideal place to stop en route to Land’s End Airport as it’s only a 30-minute drive away.
With the road network dominated by cute country roads, trains are your best bet for getting around the region. And you can travel in style, thanks to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, a steam-powered heritage railway that makes a 13-mile round trip across the lavish Cornish countryside. Trainspotters even get to drive the train with a footplate experience. If you need to travel to and from the capital, the Night Riviera Sleeper is an overnight service that runs from the West Country to London on a nightly basis. Trains leave London just before midnight and arrive into Penzance eight hours later, with most of the main towns included en route. Tickets start from around £60 per person, with the return train from Cornwall to London departing daily from 9.15pm onwards and arriving in London at 5.23am, with passengers free to stay and sleep on board until 7am.
First Bus has over 100 routes across Cornwall, with the Plus Bus ticket offering unlimited travel. One of the most popular routes is the No.1 bus which takes you to Land’s End, with most major visitor attractions included.
With window seats offering plunging views across the coastline and inland over rolling green hills and woodland, travelling by train in Cornwall is a great way to fall in love with the region. There are 36 stations including main towns Truro, St. Austell, St. Ives, Falmouth and Penzance, with the Cornish Main Line running from Penzance to Plymouth and beyond. Running off that are six distinct passenger routes including the St. Ives Bay line, the Maritime Line which connects to Falmouth, the Atlantic Coast Line services Newquay, the Looe Valley Line and the Tamar Valley Line. Most of the stations are fairly basic with little cover but, since many date back to the 1850s, they offer lovely period architecture so are wonderfully picturesque.
One of the few counties with no motorway, driving around Cornwall means using the main A30 trunk road and then delving into specific areas using smaller B roads– it’s very, very pretty, but can be slow going. The Countywide Rover Ticket makes things a bit easier, giving you parking access to most long-stay car parks in the region with seven-day cover costing just under £50, and tickets available online. Most of the major car rental companies have outlets in Cornwall including Budget, Hertz, Enterprise and Thrifty, with free delivery options available.