Go West: Magnificent Escapes for a Memorable Family Adventure

Your little ones will love roaming through the Lost Gardens of Heligan
Your little ones will love roaming through the Lost Gardens of Heligan | © Tom Parker / Culture Trip
Tamsin Wressell

Now’s the time to embark on a family adventure by train to these easy-to-reach Cornish destinations – and enjoy activities ranging from beach-hopping to axe-throwing.

With the UK gradually opening up, now is a great time to reconnect with loved ones across the country, so hop on a train and take advantage of this quick — and sustainable — mode of transport. Cornwall, with its beautiful coastline and rolling countryside hills – well connected by the Great Western Railway network, including the Night Riviera Sleeper between the West Country and London – is an ideal spot for family adventures. We’ve rounded up some unusual finds away from the crowds.

St Austell

The old market town of St Austell, just a few miles from the coast, has an industrial feel, but most visitors come here as it’s only a 3mi (5km) bus ride from the Eden Project. Head a bit further south and you’ll come to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a complex of walled gardens on a 200-acre (80ha) estate that were restored by the creator of the Eden Project. Visitor numbers here, though, are considerably lower, and there’s a variety of gardens with descriptive names such as flower, sundial, melon and Japanese.

Elsewhere, a short drive or bus ride north of St Austell, you’ll find Restormel Castle by the River Fowey — its circular structure was built in the 13th century as a luxury retreat for its medieval owners. The ruins are set amid beautiful countryside, making it a great destination for long family walks.

You can lose yourself in 200 acres of wild flora and fauna in the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The estate is the largest garden-restoration project in Europe
You can wander around the different gardens and through plant-filled, sun-soaked rooms | © Tom Parker / Culture Trip

Falmouth

The coastal town of Falmouth is known for its deep natural harbour and surfing options. It’s a great place for exploring the British seaside and is easily reachable by train — Castle Beach (the most family-friendly beach) is a few minutes’ walk from the station in town. Beach-hopping along the coastal path is a great way to have an adventure here. Start at Gyllyngvase Beach, just 10 minutes from the town centre. The sea here is clean and clear and there are facilities including cafes and restaurants. From here, walk the coastal path to Swanpool Beach, a popular cove on the outskirts of Falmouth. Just around the corner you’ll also find Maenporth Beach, hidden away and backing on to rolling hills. For a more active adventure, head to Loe Beach where you can try out watersports such as sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.

Truro

Just a 10-minute walk from Truro’s train station you’ll find the Celtic Tossers — a new axe-throwing establishment that offers an interesting take on a micro-adventure. There are three lanes from which you can hurl axes at a target in a small shed-like building, under the watchful eye of professionals. If you’d rather stay outdoors, you can visit Llama Land, just 3mi (5km) outside of Truro in the Cornish countryside. This 140-acre (57ha) family-owned farm is one of the largest llama farms in the country. During a three-hour fully guided experience, visitors of all ages can get familiar with the llamas before taking them on a walk through the quaint farm as well as through the surrounding 1,000-year-old woodland. A few miles south of Llama Land, Bosvigo Gardens are another great family attraction. These small walled gardens – with an abundant variety of beautiful and unusual flora – surround a Georgian house and are ideal for an afternoon stroll.

Take a day trip from Truro and meet some hairy friends at Llama World
The llamas enjoy some splendid Cornish countryside
Walk side by side with your new furry friends and enjoy amazing views of the landscape | © Tom Parker / Culture Trip

Luxulyan

For an adventure a little more off the beaten path, take the train to Luxulyan station and set off on a hike through the surrounding World Heritage Site of Luxulyan Valley. The 3mi (5km) route is circular, running along the River Par. Much of the valley is densely covered in woodland and is known for its ecological diversity as well as for the trackbed of a horse-drawn tramway. North of the valley, Bodmin General station is a great stop for train enthusiasts — visitors here can take a ride on a heritage steam engine, with the option of additional experiences, like afternoon tea for two. The majority of visitors start and end their journey at Bodmin General, where there’s wheelchair access and a coffee shop.

Newquay

The coastal town of Newquay is known for the impressive Atlantic waves that make it an excellent surf resort. The town itself is popular with tourists and can get fairly busy, so if you’re searching for a quieter spot, the Japanese Garden is a ground of calm, serving as a meditative garden that combines philosophy with nature. After a visit here, you could head south to Lizard Point. It has a real mix of scenic rocky cliffs and sea views, as well as an iconic lighthouse marking the most southerly point of the mainland. En route to Lizard Point you can stop by Lappa Valley — a family-oriented steam railway experience. This one is best suited to families with younger children: there are indoor and outdoor play areas, a musical trail through the surrounding woodland, pedalo swans on a boating lake and an adventure play area.

Lizard point is the most southerly spot in Britain
Beachside shacks here showcase quintessential Cornwall
And coastal trails offer incredible views out to sea | © Tom Parker / Culture Trip

Save a third with a railcard. Find out more and book your next adventure at GWR.com, on the GWR app, or at a train station.

Adventure awaits – and it’s only a train journey away

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