Getting to the Tamar Valley by Road
There are a number of routes into the Tamar Valley by car.
The most direct route is to take the M5 to Exeter, which then flows into both the A38 and A30, skirting south and north of Dartmoor respectively. The A38 will take you to Plymouth, an old naval city, where the River Tamar joins the sea and then across the Tamar Bridge to Saltash. The A30 will take you to Launceston, the ancient capital of Cornwall at the northern end of the Valley. The A388 joins Saltash to Launceston and is the main north-south road on the Cornish side of the river.
As an alternative to the direct route you might like to drive across Dartmoor, a vast upland expanse of some 360 square miles, which gives a much more sedate introduction to the area, and a true sense of place. Taking this route will lead you to Tavistock, one of four old Stannary towns on the moor's perimeter, a short distance from Gunnislake and the central area of the valley. From Tavistock, the A386 is the main north-south road on the Devon side, and can take you south to Plymouth.
Many small roads lead off from the three gateways listed above. These small, winding lanes lead into the heart of the valley, and will take you through tiny villages and hamlets, many with market garden stalls by the roadside selling produce straight from the owner's garden.
National Express coaches operate a frequent service to Plymouth and stop at smaller towns in the area several times a week.
Bus services throughout the Tamar Valley are very good. For timetables, maps and route information for bus services throughout Devon and Cornwall visit www.traveline.org.uk.
Mainline inter-city services from London, Scotland and the North of England all stop at Plymouth. Many also stop at the smaller Saltash Station (just past Brunel's famous Royal Albert Bridge) and continue on to Penzance. The journey from London Paddington takes approximately three and a half hours. There is also a sleeper train service. In Devon, the line at times runs right next to the sea, and crosses the beautiful Exe, Teign and Dart estuaries.
From Plymouth, you can catch the scenic Tamar Valley branch line train to Bere Alston, Bere Ferrers, Calstock and Gunnislake. After a brief circuit around the historic Devonport Naval Dockyard, this route takes you under Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge. The line then crosses the Tavy Viaduct to the peaceful farming countryside of the Bere peninsula, across to the Cornish bank of the River Tamar on the majestic Calstock viaduct and on to the end of the modern line at Gunnislake. For more information about this, and other branch lines, see the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership page. For information about fares and timetables contact National Rail Enquiries.
Brittany Ferries operates a regular car ferry service to Plymouth from Roscoff in Brittany and Santander in Spain.
Visitors arriving by yacht will find extensive marina facilities in and around Plymouth, most notably at Sutton Harbour.
The nearest international airport to the Tamar Valley is Exeter International Airport, home of Flybe. There are regularly scheduled international flights (some seasonal) to and from Malta, Alicante, Amsterdam, Malaga, Dublin, Paris, Barcelona, Bergerac, Chambery, Dubrovnik, Dusseldorf, Faro, Geneva, Nice, Mallorca, Rennes, Salzburg, Enfidha, Dalaman, Las Palmas, Lanzarote, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife, Barbados, Bodrum, Corfu, Enontekio, Ibiza, Larnaca, Menorca and Krakow.
Flybe also flies to and from Belfast, Edinburgh, Guernsey, Jersey, Manchester and Newcastle. Isles of Scilly Skybus flies to and from St Mary's.
Newquay-Cornwall Airport provides routes between Cornwall and Liverpool, Southend, Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Norwich, Glasgow, Dusseldorf and St Mary's.