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Getting to Cornwall in early July from LHR - drive or fly or train?

Hi we're time-challenged Australian couple landing in LHR Friday 3pm Friday 1 July, wanting to spend saturday sunday in cornwall then back to london for 4 days
option 1. flight from LGW doesn't depart until 8pm arriving 9pm costing about gbp88 each
option 2. Therefore thinking of driving down from LHR to either:
- 2 hours away (Salisbury?) and then 2 hours more on saturday am or
- the full distance to somewhere like padstow or newquay (5 hours) to arrive at about the same time as the flight might

What do forumists think. Is a drive from LHR friday pm a less than clever idea?

option 3. great western night train from paddington at gbp 98 each = gbp 200

Posted by
1063 posts

Personally I would choose to drive anywhere on a Friday afternoon, EVERYONE is on the roads then. Also wouldn't recommend driving after a flight from Oz, take the train.

Posted by
13222 posts

I think the above statement is meant to be "I would NOT choose to drive. . . "

Getting stuck in Friday traffic would not be fun after the long flight from Oz.

The train is convenient and comfortable, and it doesn't have to be the night train. Although if Penzance is where you want to go, it looks like a good option---assuming you can sleep on trains. You can easily get to Paddington for the trains to Cornwall by using the Heathrow Express---book well in advance ( at least 30 days) to get a better price.

Posted by
1934 posts

The trains are also full/expensive as this time on a Friday is the very worst time to travel due to high demand. Expect jams on the roads as well. Can’t you do London first? I would not even bother going to Newquay. You have probably just heard about it because of surfing? Far nicer places exist in Cornwall. I don’t think that 2 full days in Cornwall justifies the long journey.

Posted by
7141 posts

I'd suggest a train from London Paddington to Exeter St David's for overnight accommodation. Pick up a hire car all refreshed first thing Saturday morning.

Posted by
4736 posts

The really cheap train fares will have already sold out and you are arriving too late to get a train to Newquay or Padstow apart from the sleeper as they need connections from the main line.

The 17:03, 18:03, and 19:03 departures to the South West from Paddington are very busy every Friday - often full to the gunwales. That is why the usual advice of getting on at Reading for the journey is more risky as even with a reserved seat it can be difficult to get on and luggage space will have all gone.

Consider a modification to your plan - go to Salisbury by public transport as a place worth visiting in its own right and carry on from there by car if you wish (although you can get a train to Exeter and change there as an alternative).

Posted by
2 posts


Our plan is - maximum time in Cornwall on Saturday and Sunday. but our plane from Oz lands in LHR at 3.30pm

I'd thought all the earlier Friday trains to Penzance have gone. But I see there are still tickets on 606 pm or so at GBP74 each 2nd class remaining (expensive) -
So does that mean our best option is the 606pm or thereabouts from Paddington arriving penzance 930pm?

Thank you forum colleagues, you have given me excellent additional ideas of a train from Waterloo to Salisbury, or from Paddington to Exeter as way stations. Either way I would still need to sleep in those cities and depart early Saturday to get to England's Mont St Michel and Rick Steins' and Doc Martin country at Port Isaac.

So the decision is - train to Penzance or stopover drive/train to Salisbury?

What do you as experts prefer?
Or into London for the

Posted by
5718 posts

If your flight is more than 30 minutes late into Heathrow, you are pushing it to make the 6.06 train. Make a train seat reservation, otherwise you risk having to stand for the journey or sit on the floor. They sell more tickets than there are seats.

Personally, I wouldn't go all the way to Cornwall immediately if you are flying here from Australia and I wouldn't go all that way for less than 2 days, but if time is tight.....

Posted by
4736 posts

If you have two days only and want to go to some place in Cornwall then I guess really you have to go on the Friday night as otherwise you are cutting your time there to little more than a day.

There is a National Express coach that leaves Heathrow Central (close to terminals 2 &3) at 17:20 that is one stop to Plymouth at 22:30 and then a host of places as far as Penzance at 01:30. Your body clock will already be smashed in so the fact it arrives in the small hours may not matter.

Time getting this though might be a bit tight with a 15:30 arrival.

Posted by
13222 posts

If st. Michael's Mount and Port Isaac are the goals, it makes sense to get to Penzance as soon as possible. The night train might be the safest option in terms of timing, and takes care of your lodging for Friday night. Then hire a car for touring Cornwall, including Port Isaac. Maybe you could spend Saturday night there? Lodging may be tough at this point. But we really enjoyed the time we spent there.