We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

London to Cornwall

Bay Area
Level Contributor
67 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
London to Cornwall

Hi All,

I was wondering if someone could advise me of the best method of traveling from London to Cornwall. I will be meeting my sister in London where we will spend 7 days, and then would like to head to Cornwall for 5 days. This is my sisters first trip to London (she is flying in from Australia, and I am flying in from California) so I would like to make it a special one. We are thinking about renting a car in Cornwall however I do not fancy driving in London.

Cheers

Emma

Likely To Sell Out
Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath...
5,260 reviews
from US$126.90*
Likely To Sell Out
Making of Harry Potter Round-Trip...
457 reviews
from US$105.50*
Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath...
2,086 reviews
from US$149.70*
Special Offer
Luxury Paris Day Trip with Champagne...
464 reviews
from US$301.60*
US$335.10
Detroit, Michigan
Level Contributor
5,413 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: London to Cornwall

We rented a car at Heathrow and drove out to Cornwall. It took us about 6 hours - traffic around Bristol was terrible - it was a bank holiday. You might consider taking the train to one of the larger towns in Cornwall and rent the car from there. Where in Cornwall are you going?

London, UK
Level Contributor
5,466 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: London to Cornwall

Based on my experience, many times over, it's a long hard drive. In over 15 years of driving down there, I've barely had 2 or 3 journeys that have not been beset by traffic delays, either by taking the motorway route to Exeter (M5) or the A303 past Stonehenge.

I recently drove to Brixham (Devon, so add another 100 miles on into deepest Cornwall), with traffic jams, slowdowns & pitstops, it took over 7 hours using the A303 (granted on a Friday in August). Coming home using the M5/M4 route, we sat still for over 90 minutes whilst the central barriers were replaced after a very nasty looking crash (car burnt to a crisp chassis).

So my advice would be:

Go by train to Exeter, & take a short taxi ride to pick up a car from someone like HolidayAutos, (who use Hertz or National - both have depots in Exeter's retail parks) & then take the fast roads (A30 or A38) down into Cornwall.

With an early train out of London, you could be in Cornwall for lunch (bliss).

If you choose to drive from London, then set off very very early. You may well beat the bulk of the traffic. Avoid driving down from London on Friday or Saturday, when people start their holidays, or at least leave very very early (e.g. 07:00-ish if not before). The A303 (eventually) dribbles past Stonehenge. If the traffic is slow enough to stand still, you can take some photos & not even bother getting out ;-). Make sure you have frequent stops for R&R. Nice places for tea are the Boston Tea Party in Honiton (main street) & Montacute House (National Trust) close to Yeovil.

Of course, you could take the train further down the line, f'rinstance to Penzance, & pick up your hire car there. You can relax & gaze out of the window for a while longer. Check out the HolidayAutos website for the Cornwall offices. I only suggest the Exeter option as I have done it myself a few times & know it works, & the drive through Devon into Cornwall is rather nice.

http://www.holidayautos.co.uk/

Hmm, just taken a quick look at the website, & it seems the furthest depot into Cornwall is Newquay, which unless you want to start on that coastal stretch is too out of the way & maybe not so well served by rail.

So I venture that Exeter has the best of to offer for pickup: fast trains from London & easy to locate car hire office (the large retail park referred to as Exeter downtown & it's Hertz from recall, very good service & nippy little motor).

Oh, that's the other thing - get a compact car. The country lanes are GREAT, but you'll need something small & neat, otherwise the passing places will be a real squeeze. You'll notice that even the affluent locals drive small 'runabout' type cars - no room on local roads for big gas guzzlers.

Also, do get the extra damage collision waiver when you pick the car up. Budget an approximate extra £10 p.d. The charming hedgerows sometimes conceal sharp thorny growth that just reaches out to scratch the paintwork. Been there, done that.

London, United...
Level Contributor
6,365 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: London to Cornwall

I have done the drive from London to Cornwall many times. Leave at 6 am you will avoid the traffic (unless bank holiday weekend) or fly Gatwick to Newquay (50 mins) I personally have done the train only once- would nt do it again.

.
Level Contributor
2,466 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: London to Cornwall

The trains go as far as Penzance, unless pirates cause a stoppage.

Bay Area
Level Contributor
67 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: London to Cornwall

Thanks Everyone for all of your fabulous advice. We are staying in Truro. We are also thinking about staying in Taunton for a night, so perhaps we will take the train from London to Taunton and then rent a car there and drive to Truro. Has anyone done that?

Cheers

Emma

London, UK
Level Contributor
5,466 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: London to Cornwall

I do believe that the major car hire chains have depots in Taunton, so it's worth finding out what kind of deal Holiday Autos et al can broker for you.

Taunton is 1066 & KES territory, so they can advise you best about digs, nosh & slosh.

UK
Level Contributor
2,435 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: London to Cornwall

Could do a lot worse than staying a the Castle Hotel

run by a man whose family renown i n the hotelier world.

Mr Kit Chapman.

I could not have written about the hassle going by car with more skill then EMP . The train was very comfortable

good hols Gerlis

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
1,008 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: London to Cornwall

I would suggest train to Truro. There is a Hertz desk in the station.

There is also an Avis and an Enterprise in town (believe Enterprise do a pickup service)

If you are planning a while ahead you can get the train tickets pretty reasonably priced for singles.

If you really wanted to stop at Taunton on the way back maybe drive and pay the one way charge and get the train the rest of the way.

When are you thinking of doing your trip?

The road delays between Cornwall and the rest of the country can be big but they are less frequent than you might imagine.

But I'd always take the train if I could as it's such a nice journey.

As a guide by road Truro to Exeter 1.5 hours - Taunton another 30-40 mins.

Seattle
Level Contributor
9,650 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: London to Cornwall

Here's another vote for the train (pirates notwithstanding, Jack!). I've taken the journey a few times and the scenery is quite lovely in places.

London, UK
Level Contributor
5,466 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: London to Cornwall

If you can pickup in Truro, then I'd take the train directly there - very nice town.

Of course, trains go all the way down to Penzance, not sure about ease of car rental. In my 'Yoof', it used to be said that one could relax on a train down to Penzance on a heavily discounted APEX ticket & then pick up a 'Rent a Wreck' to pootle round the contry lanes & stay in Youth Hostels - aaah Salad Days.

Never could find Rent a Wreck.