Devon/Cornwall by train

We will be arriving by ship in Southampton next spring and would like to spend 3 nights each in Devon and Cornwall, returning to London by train from Penzance. We are interested in a bit of everything..walks, gardens, cathedrals, villages and moors. I'm thinking Exeter would be a good base in Devon but would rather stay in a country hotel in a village if it wasn't too far off the beaten track. I know we will be limited without a car a d would love to join a tour group in Devon for a day or two if anyone has a suggestion for one. We are thinking St. Ives for our time in Cornwall and know of a good guide there. Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions.

Posted by Steve
WI
72 posts

Carol, we were based in St. Ives for a couple of days in June 2012. St. Ives is a bit touristy on the waterfront, but as you get a couple of blocks off the harbor front you find lovely, twisting little lanes with shops, pubs, restaurants, and so forth. We also took the sleeper overnight train from Penzance to London, which I would recommend. For less than the cost of a nice hotel, you can get a private (but very small) room with bunk beds. The train from Penzance left at 9:45 pm, and we were in central London by 5:30 am the next morning. It was a great way to go if you don't want to spend much time on the train during the daylight hours. Enjoy!

Posted by Carol
Seattle
5 posts

Thanks, Steve..we had not considered the overnight train but we just might. I think the one during the day is just a few hours to London though. Will take your advice re St. Ives..

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
766 posts

There is only one NR route currently offering proper on-train fine dining now in the UK - and those are the London-Plymouth Pullman services. The breakfast service would be too early, but the lunch trains leave Plymouth at 12:01 and 12:55. One of these usually starts from Penzance. You don't need a first class ticket.

Posted by Carol
Seattle
5 posts

Thanks, Marco..I'll look into that. Still hoping someone has an idea re a good base in Devon with no car for 3 nights..

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Still hoping someone has an idea re a good base in Devon with no car for 3 nights.. Somewhere on the railway line, with local places of interest and public bus services would be Totnes, which is an interesting little town with a ruined castle, a long steep high street and a kind of native feel to it. You can do river trips from there down to Dartmouth (a pretty harbour town), or take the South Devon Railway (a preserved heritage steam railway) up to Buckfastleigh. Bus information for Totnes and surrounding areas here (click the link for South Hams): https://www.devon.gov.uk/index/transportroads/public_transport/buses/bus_guides_and_maps.htm#area_guides Or how about Plymouth, then use the bus services to get up to Dartmoor?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8725 posts

Kevin's "native", whilst in a way is certainly true, is probably a result of the electronic editor of this helpline seeing the first half of "alte-rnative" as a potentially disruptive instruction and chopped it off. That happens with a number of trigger terms. Totnes, a neat place that even has its own internal money notes, is most definitely an alte-rnative kind of place. Think Glastonbury meets Riverside. We really like it there, in fact all up and down the Dart river. Other good towns around there are Dartmouth and Torquay. We weren't overwhelmed by Paington. All are on the train. Close to Totnes and Dartmouth is Greenway, Agatha Christy's home which is open to visit, just as she left it.

Posted by Carol
Seattle
5 posts

Thanks for both interesting replies. Totnes looks very good...what is so alternative (not native) about it? We are two older women traveling together and past our alternative days. We are going to follow this 3 day stay with another in possibly St. Ives so wanted a different feel in both places (ie not both on the coast). It's great hearing from locals..thanks!

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Kevin's "native", whilst in a way is certainly true, is probably a result of the electronic editor of this helpline seeing the first half of "alte-rnative" as a potentially disruptive instruction and chopped it off. That happens with a number of trigger terms. Just so. Alternative, alter-native... Totnes is where the Transition Towns movement started, it does indeed have its own currency, the Totnes Pound, much emulated in other places like Lewes, Bristol and even Brixton, and it is chock-full of independent businesses. They recently fought a successful campaign to stop one of the national coffeeshop chains from opening a branch there, arguing that there were already several dozen independent or family owned cafes and other outlets selling coffee. I love the place.

Posted by Carol
Seattle
5 posts

Sounds like my kind of place..I love independent coffee shops and businesses! Can you recommend a place to stay there? I see the Royal 7 is trip advisor's first choice.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Carol, Tripadvisor will give you better advice than I can. I've only been there as a day visitor while staying on the coast.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8725 posts

And Kevin is word perfect for me, too. My aunt used to live in Paignton and we usually stay near Torquay so, Carol, Tripadvisor will give you better advice than I can. I've only been there as a day visitor while staying on the coast.