St Austell is a town in Cornwall, England. Its main attraction is the Eden Project, a huge outdoor and indoor collection of plants from around the world. The town is also a centre of the Cornish china-clay industry.
Cornwall Newquay AirportHas flights from London (Gatwick & Stanstead), Dublin, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Manchester and Cardiff. It's about 30 min away by car, reckon £25 for a taxi. Its two disadvantages are i) most flights are summer only; ii) public transport is tricky as first you have to get the bus into Newquay (last bus around 6:30PM), then rely on an infrequent bus or branch-line train for St Austell.
By trainSt Austell station stands on the Great Western main line from London Paddington to Penzance. Direct trains from London Paddington run every couple of hours, taking 5 hours via Reading, Exeter and Plymouth; other connections are available via Exeter. Trains continue west to Penzance hourly, taking one hour. One Cross-Country train per day is a direct service from Penzance to Sheffield, York, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
An overnight sleeper train, The Night Riviera, runs between London Paddington and Penzance, stopping at St Austell. It runs Sunday to Friday from Paddington around 11:30PM, reaching St Austell before 7AM (on Sunday before 8AM Monday). The return train leaves Penzance Su-F around 9:30PM, picking up at St Austell an hour later, to reach Paddington at 5AM; you can stay aboard until 7AM. Book via Great Western, with airline seats, or single or double sleeper cabins available.
Other nearby destinations along the main line, served by hourly trains between Penzance and Plymouth, are St Erth (for St Ives), Truro, Par (for Newquay), and Bodmin. See National Rail for times and fares; advance booking is usually much cheaper. A Ride Cornwall Ranger is good value for local travel. It allows unlimited off-peak travel within Cornwall, and between Cornwall and Plymouth, by all trains and most buses. "Off-peak" means M-F after 9AM, and all day Sa Su & holidays. An adult day-ticket is £13, children and concessions around £10.
St Austell railway stationThe station is central in town, next to the bus station. It's basically just a halt, with few facilities.
National Express coaches run from St Austell via Truro to Penzance (3 per day, two hours). NX404 runs overnight from London Victoria (8 hr) via Heathrow Airport, Bath, Bristol Airport, Exeter, Torquay and Plymouth. NX315 runs daily along the south coast from Eastbourne via Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Eastbourne, Exeter and Plymouth.
For local buses to Penzance, change at Truro. The bus & coach station is right outside the railway station, postcode PL25 4LA.
St Austell is a 5 hour drive from London via M4, M5, A30 and finally A391. It's a long way and at some point you'll need to refuel. Don't be paying motorway prices, there's supermarket petrol at (amongst others) M5 jcn 28 (Cullompton Tesco) and A30 Bodmin (Asda, Launceston Rd).
For Penzance, continue west on A390 through Truro. For Newquay, go west on A3058. For Liskeard and Plymouth, go east on A390 then A38.
The town itself is walkable, but all the main attractions are some miles out, too far to traipse with children. See Eden Project listing for buses there.
St Austell Private HireTaxi is a reasonable option for a family group.
phone: +44 1726 811911address: Bodelva PL24 2SGSpectacular rehabilitation of an old china-clay pit. Full of plant life, the star attractions being the two "biomes": one tropical rain-forest habitat, one Mediterranean, housed in vast transparent hex-domes, like Xanadu in galactic bubble-wrap. Impressive if a tad eco-preachy, plus lots of merchandising and theme-park stuff (eg "Hangloose", a long zip-wire ride over the site), which it's easy to swerve. They hope to build a third biome, for desert life, when finances allow.
By car, approach via A391 Bodmin-St Austell Rd: a new road leads in with the closest available car-park signed. (Parks L to E are almost a mile out, D & C are closer, use free shuttle bus. B is a short walk, A is disabled only.) First Kernow Bus 101 runs hourly from St Austell (30 min), a taxi from there costs about £7, and these drop off/pick up at Park A. By bike you can short-cut along Luxulyan Rd from St Austell, or Prideaux Rd from St Blazey, to avoid lumping up the moor only to turn back down again. There's also a YHA on site, see "sleep".
phone: +44 1726 850362address: Carthew PL26 8XGChina clay mining museum, with various exhibits of the extraction process.
address: Par Moor Rd PL25 3RPMostly aimed at younger children. With adjacent retail park.
phone: +44 1726 812544address: Stadium Retail Park, Par Moor Rd PL25 3RPBrowse and shop at Cornish Market World, while the children play at Kidzworld. Charlie's offers fun for young adults and the Kids' Academy is an Ofsted-approved nursery, pre-school and holiday club.
phone: +44 345 241 1122address: 63 Trevarthian RdEstablished 1851. Museum, bar and tours
Lots of hotels and guest-houses in St Austell, mostly along A390 on the south side of town, with another cluster near the railway station, and a strip down Charlestown Rd by the harbour.
phone: +44 1726 833425address: Penhale Farm, Fowey PL23 1JUCampsite, static caravans and tourer stands overlooking the sea.
phone: +44 345 371 9573address: Bodelva PL29 2SGHas en suite bedrooms made from recycled shipping containers and kitted out with bathrooms, bedding and TVs (towels can be rented for £2). There's a campsite a short walk away where you can pitch your own tent or hire a bell tent in the summer months. Reception tent has self-catering kitchen, WiFi. Continental breakfast £5; pizza £7.50, or nachos available in the evening.
- Explore the nearby coast at Charlestown, Mevagissey, Par and Fowey.
- St Columb Major is a small town in the hills, and Bodmin has an interesting castle.
- Plymouth is an unlovely place, but your nearest option for city amenities.
- Escape to the Isles of Scilly, which can be seen on a day-trip from Penzance.