Outstanding natural beauty and community rail in Devon & Cornwall

27 July 2020

Did you know many of our scenic rail lines across Britain are supported by community rail groups? These groups engage communities and help people get the most from their railways, promoting social inclusion and sustainable travel, working alongside train operators to bring about improvements, and bringing stations back to life.

One of these community rail groups, Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, provides an insight below into some of the projects they have been involved with.

By Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership

While we all start to adapt to life in a very different world, it is clear that access to wide open spaces and nature are going to be more popular than ever.

The Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership is fortunate that one of its lines, the Tamar Valley Line, goes straight into the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Connecting Plymouth with the rural villages of Bere Ferrers, Bere Alston, Calstock and Gunnislake, the Tamar Valley Line travels through some spectacular countryside and the Partnership has a long history of collaboration with the Tamar Valley AONB.

For more than 20 years, the Partnership has worked on a number of projects that promote sustainable access into the valley; highlight local tourism attractions and walks; encourage tourism and work with local schools. Here are two...

Morwelham Quay promotion

In 2009, the Morwellham Bus Link was a project which provided a connecting bus link between Gunnislake station and Morwellham Quay, a local attraction.

Launch of the Morwellham Bus Link at Gunnislake station- 2009
Launch of the Morwellham Bus Link at Gunnislake station- 2009

Morwellham Quay was once a thriving port linked to the copper mining industry and is part of the UNESCO Mining World Heritage Site.

The village is tucked away deep in the valley and not easily accessible by public transport.

A connecting bus was provided for the 6 weeks of the school summer holidays to take people out in the morning and back in the afternoon. The AONB and Cornish Mining World Heritage Site team funded the bus and we organised and paid for the publicity.

309 people used the service. 39% of those surveyed said they had never been to the AONB before and would not have been able to do it without the bus link.

The project won the Integrated Transport Category in the 2010 National Community Rail Awards.

Heralds of Spring

The Tamar Valley has a long tradition of market gardening, closely linked to the railway, as fruit and flowers used to be sent by train to markets in major cities including London's Covent Garden.

Daffodils are synonymous with the valley and a number of events throughout the AONB celebrate these 'heralds of spring'.

Children from Bere Alston Primary School learn about the history of daffodils at Bere Ferrers station
Children from Bere Alston Primary School learn about the history of daffodils at Bere Ferrers station

This project started in 2019. A series of daffodil walks that could be accessed from stations were written and local schools engaged.

Particularly good was an exciting project with Bere Alston Primary School where pupils went out on a day trip by train to learn about, spot and sketch daffodils in the landscape.

The children's pictures were turned into a poster promoting the area and displayed at stations through the GWR network.

This year the Tamar Valley AONB celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership team are talking to the AONB team about joint project ideas and look forward to many more years working with them and others to promote visits to this beautiful area by train.

Discover the Daffodils of the Tamar Valley project
Discover the Daffodils of the Tamar Valley project
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