One of Cornwall’s oldest towns, Bodmin’s central position makes it a great base to explore Cornwall. The town itself is full of attractions, including the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway.
Cornwall's Cycle Hub
With routes going out in all directions, cyclists will love Bodmin as a base for exploring the surrounding countryside. Cycle out to the coast at Padstow along The Camel Trail via Wadebridge, or take the inland route north towards St Breward on the edge of Bodmin Moor.
At Cardinham Woods, to the east of the town, you will find a selection of marked cycle trails to choose from. Families will enjoy the gentle rides through the woods whilst the rugged downhill routes are suitable only for the toughest mountain bikers, including the red grade Hell’s Teeth trail.
There are more off-road trails to explore at Lanhydrock, the National Trust’s property just outside Bodmin. A 2.5km route is suitable for everyone and takes you through the estates woodland, whilst for more competent off-roaders there are several tougher trails to follow.
Bodmin is also where you can pick up the Cornish Way, part of the National Cycle Network, which runs from Land's End all the way to Bude on the Cornwall/Devon border and beyond. Going north it initially follows the Camel Trail to Wenford Bridge, alternatively the southern route heads towards the village of Luxulyan and onto St Austell.
All weather fun
Despite what the guidebooks might tell you, Cornwall isn’t always sunshine and beaches. Sometimes you need attractions to visit when the weather is inclement. Thankfully Bodmin has plenty that fit the bill…
You can get steamed up at the Bodmin Railway, Cornwall’s only full-size working steam railway, which takes you on a nostalgic journey through the rolling countryside down to the River Fowey. Or explore Bodmin Keep, home of the evocative Cornwall’s Army Museum, and discover the illustrious history of the Light Infantry from 1702 to 2007.
Step back in time for a view of life in the past at Lanhydrock House, the National Trust's grand Victorian house set in stunning grounds just outside the town.
And for something completely different, prepare to be baffled and amazed at Discovering 42, Bodmin’s very own science centre, where there are flashing lights, strong magnets, adults hogging exhibits & loud sounds.
A Murder Mystery
In April 1844 a young woman’s body was discovered on Bodmin Moor, near to the ford below Rough Tor. It turned out to be Charlotte Dymond, a local girl who allegedly had gone for a walk on the moor with her boyfriend Matthew Weeks. Weeks was arrested for her murder and taken to Bodmin where he was tried in the court, now known as the Shire Hall.
Was he guilty? we will probably never know for sure, but at the time there seemed to be enough evidence to convict him, even though he pleaded not guilty. A well written letter by him confessing to the murder was said to confirm his guilt, even though he was illiterate.
He was sent to Bodmin Jail and on the 12th August 1844 was hung in front of a crowd of several thousand people from all over Cornwall. Ever since people have argued as to whether he was guilty or not.
A walk around Bodmin reveals a bustling place full of imposing granite buildings reflecting the town’s importance during the mining boom in the 19th century and its position as the former administrative centre of Cornwall. The Shire Hall which was the old county courtroom, sending villains down to the imposing county jail whilst the 15th Century church of St Petroc, is the largest parish church in Cornwall.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Bodmin
Coming by car, from the end of the M5 at Exeter follow the A30 to Cornwall. Bodmin is well signposted a few miles after leaving Bodmin Moor.
The main car park is Priory Park to the left of the Shire Hall in the centre of town.
National Express coaches stop in Bodmin.
It's also a main hub for bus services across east and mid Cornwall.
The only trains that run into Bodmin town are steam powered, but there is a mainline station a few miles out of town at Bodmin Parkway. From here busses meet the trains to take people up into the town.
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Travel to Cornwall by car
It takes less than five hours to get from London or Birmingham to the heart of Cornwall by car.
Drive along the M4 motorway from London, or M6 from Manchester, and then the M5 to Exeter and finally either the A30, that is mostly dual carriageway, or the A38 passing Plymouth and Saltash into South East Cornwall.
Alternatively if you enter Cornwall from North Devon, there is the scenic A39 Atlantic Highway running through Bude, which you can join from Junction 27 on the M5.
Due to the high volume of traffic on Cornwall's roads during the summer months the main routes can become congested especially at weekends. Travelling overnight or outside peak rush hours is recommended to avoid long delays.
- To plan your journey use the AA Route Planner for a tailor made travel plan with timings and mileage
- For information on possible delays or roadwork's throughout the UK or in Cornwall visit Traffic Watch
- Travelling to Cornwall with a caravan? Check out our Caravan Towing guide
PLEASE BE AWARE. Sat-Navs can lead you to some wonderful places in Cornwall, many of them down narrow country lanes with high hedges and few reversing points. If you are not sure...don't go on. Better to turn around and find another route than end up lost in the middle of nowhere.
Travel to Cornwall by coach and bus
Coach travel times from London or Birmingham to the city of Truro are around 7-8 hours
Many tour operators offer coach holidays to Cornwall, contact your local travel agent for details.
For information on public transport, including local bus timetables, once you are in Cornwall, Click here.
To plan your journey in advance, journey planning websites such as Traveline South West can be useful.
If you are bringing a coach to Cornwall, did you know Cornwall Council now offers a weekly coach rover ticket. This is available for all car parks where coaches are permitted and costs £15 for 24 hours or £50 for 7 days and £35 for 4 days. These can be obtained by creating an account to use the ZatPermit system.
Bodmin is a town, and for many years was the County town of Cornwall. It was here that the courts and jail were and the Church of St Petroc was the largest religious building in Cornwall until Truro Cathedral was built at the end of the 19th century.
Bodmin is in the middle of Cornwall, so easily placed to get to beaches on both the south and north coast. The beaches around the Camel estuary at Padstow and Polzeath are probably closest, being about a 20 minute drive. On the south coast the family friendly resort of Looe is about half an hour away and there are also nice beaches around St Austell.
Nobody really knows for sure.. there have been many sightings over the years, but nothing has ever been proved. People claim the beast is a large cat, released into the wilds many years ago, but although there have been some grainy images produced, all attempts to capture it have failed.
We would like to assure people that it is safe to walk on the moor!
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Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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