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Railways in Devon and Cornwall:
Scenic Branch Lines
Like the rest of the UK, Devon and Cornwall's rail network was hit by the Beeching cuts in the 1960's.
However, the two counties still benefit from having five scenic branch lines which have received a new lease of life in recent years partly from increased use by commuters but also as tourist attractions in their own right. All of the Devon and Cornwall branch lines offer magnificent scenery and are a great way to enjoy a day out. The branch lines are operated by First Great Western trains.
The Tamar Valley Line
Plymouth > Devonport > Dockyard > Keyham > St Budeaux > Bere Ferrers > Bere Alston > Calstock > Gunnislake
From Plymouth in Devon to Gunnislake in Cornwall, the Tamar Valley Line travels for 15 miles (50 Minutes) through an area of outstanding natural beauty.
As you leave Plymouth enjoy the views of the Royal Naval Dockyard at Devonport, before crossing into the Bere Peninsula and on into Cornwall, crossing over the splendid Calstock Viaduct as you go.
The Looe Valley Line is one of Britain's most scenic and unusual branch and starts form its own station in the historic market town of Liskeard. By taking the train down the Looe Valley Line you can enjoy splendid views of the Looe estuary, on an 8 mile, 25 minute journey.
On leaving Liskeard, the line curves and drops sharply, under the main line to the quiet junction at Coombe. Here the train reverses along the East Looe River valley for the seven mile trip to Looe.
The Atlantic Coast Line
Par > Luxulyan > Bugle > Roche > St Columb Road > Quintrel Downs > Newquay
Travel coast to coast by train in 50 minutes, from the English Channel to the Atlantic travelling along the unusual 20 mile Atlantic Coast Line from Par to Newquay.
The ride takes you through the beautiful Luxulyan Valley and on across Goss Moor with distant views of the white lunar landscape of the Cornish china clay industry. Then enjoy the coastal resort of Newquay, with its wonderful sandy beaches, shops, cafes and high Atlantic waves.
The line was opened in June 1877 and helped bring tourists into the area, developing St.Ives as a holiday resort. The St.Ives Bay Line was also the last railway in Britain to be built to Brunel's 'Broad Gauge', creating a superb piece of Victorian engineering as the tracks hugs the edge of the cliff around the coast.
The St.Ives Bay Line sweeps alongside the golden sands of Hayle Towans, through Carbis Bay and onto St.Ives with panoramic views of craggy cliffs and the colourful harbour. Take the chance to visit the narrow streets of St.Ives, a picturesque town with many galleries, shops, pubs, restaurants and guesthouses.The St.Ives Bay Line gives good access to walking routes such as the South West Coast Path which follows the line from Lelant's St. Uny Church to Carbis Bay, then onto St.Ives.
With the railway now used by local residents and visitors, the The Tamar Valley was once a busy copper mining area and reminders of its industrial past can be seen from the train.
The stations along the route are ideal for country walks, visit St. Keyne to see the Holy Well and the Magnificent Music Machines Museum. Then in the attractive fishing port of Looe, visit the South East Cornwall Discovery Centre,where a free exhibition gives an introduction to the history, culture and magical beauty of this area.
The Maritime Line then sweeps down over the spectacular Perran well viaduct to Falmouth harbour, where Pendennis and St. Mawes castles stand guard over the Fal estuary, with good views of the harbour from the train around Penryn. for the castles or a day on the beach, make sure you alight at Falmouth Docks Station.
Or alight at Falmouth Town Station for a two minute walk to the National Maritime Museum, or enjoy a walk around the narrow streets and shops.
Connecting Truro to Falmouth the 12 mile, 25 minute journey along The Maritime Line provides the perfect way to combine two of Cornwall's main centres.
Start in the county city of Truro, with its cobbled shopping area, three spired Cathedral, magnificent Georgian and Regency buildings and the Royal Cornwall Museum.
The St Ives Bay Line
St Erth > Lelant Saltings > Lelant > Carbis Bay > St Ives
Running between St.Ives and the mainline station at St.Erth, the St.Ives Bay Line has some of the most beautiful scenery in England and is well worth taking a trip on. Arriving into St.Ives by train is far easier than driving, and the 12 minute ride from St.Erth gives you some spectacular views that you just don't get by road. You can join the branch line at St.Erth or at the Park & Ride at Lelant Saltings.
The Tarka Line runs for 39 miles (60 minutes) between the city of Exeter and the ancient market town of Barnstaple. The line follows the gentle river valleys of the Taw and Yeo, home to the author Henry Williamson, whose classic tale 'Tarka the Otter' gives the railway line its name.
Linking North and South Devon, the Tarka Line travels through the famous green and rolling Devon landscape. On the way you can visit Crediton, a thriving market town with a variety of interesting shops or alight at Eggesford and walk from the station into the magnificent Forestry Commission woodlands.
Then arrive at Barnstaple, a bustling shopping and commercial centre, with the historic Pannier Market and Butchers' Row.