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“All you can drink and the train takes you home”

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The Great Rail Ale Trail
Ranked #218 of 256 Tours in Cornwall
Reviewed 12 April 2013

I decided to take the Great Rail Ale Trail from Liskeard to Looe last month whilst on a flying three day trip to Cornwall. I've always been a fan of the Liskeard to Looe branch line so the chance to combine this with some good pubs was too good to miss.

Although just 9 miles long, this branch line runs through some of the best scenery in Cornwall. I decided to do my best to visit every pub on the Trail, including those in Liskeard prior to departing on the 1212 train to Looe.

The pubs in Liskeard are the White Horse Inn and the Old Stag and I had time for a pint in each before walking to the station. Common sense dictated that I leave the camera safely in my hotel room so I have not documented the trip with photos I'm afraid.

The single carriage train was waiting at Liskeard station so I hopped aboard and it began it's descent to the Looe Valley via the long curve onto the siding, after which the points are changed, and the train moves off towards the first station , Coombe Junction Halt.

The scenery along this route is staggeringly lovely, if there's one train ride you take before you die, then make it this one. The track follows the course of the river throughout and the backdrop is of forests, small tributaries, aquatic birds and peace and quiet. The train continues through St Keyne Wishing Well Halt to Causeland, the only wayside pub on the Trail, this being the Old Plough. I decided to have a pint in here and then wait for the next train at 1340.

Be aware that all the tiny stations along this line are request stops, and you need to tell the conductor that you wish to alight, just as you need to signal to the train as it approaches when you wish to get aboard.

The Old Plough was lovely, warm, cosy, with flagstone floors and low beam ceilings. It had two well kept ales on tap and not wanting to miss out, I had a pint of each.

The 1340 turned up on time, I waved it to stop and I climbed aboard for the run into Looe via Sandplace. The river valley really opens out from here and the views are spectacular. I would imagine it to be a bird watcher's dream come true.

We come to the end of the line in the little station at Looe and this is where the fun begins. There are no less than eight pubs on the trail here, so common sense once again intervened and I decided that a half in each one would be more than sufficient. The pubs are in order of visitation, The Globe, which is opposite the station, then The Olde Salutation Inn, The Ship, The Fisherman's Arms, and The Bullers, then across the town bridge to West Looe for The Harbour Moon, The Jolly Sailor and finally, Tom Sawyers Tavern.

All the ales were good and well kept, mainly Cornish breweries as you might expect, with the emphasis being on Sharp's, Skinners, and St Austell as well as a couple of less well known breweries.

It's a bit of a walk from Tom Sawyers to the station and the train I intended catching was the last one at 2000 so I reluctantly left at 1930 for the walk back.

What a great day I'd had, good beer, friendly locals, a variety of busy and peaceful pubs and two scenic train rides into the bargain. Remember to get your card stamped in each pub you visit, you need ten stamps from the eleven on offer to qualify for your free t-shirt. I only wish now that I'd taken the camera.....

7  Thank GBfromDevizes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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