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A visit to the least-used station in Cornwall

We've paid a visit to the least-used station in Cornwall to see what it's all about.
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When you think of Cornwall, you probably think of beautiful sandy beaches, quaint fishing villages and a sense of tranquillity. You probably don’t think of tiny overgrown railway stations! Yet, when an opportunity arose to visit the least-used station in Cornwall, I couldn’t say no.

What is the least-used station in Cornwall?

The least-used station in Cornwall is Coombe Junction Halt. It’s located on the already rather quirky Looe Branch Line, which runs between Liskeard and Looe.

According to the latest statistics, there were just 120 entries/exits from April 2022 to March 2023. This isn’t too surprising, considering that it gets just two trains per day each way (no service on Sundays).

So, why such a poor service and why do so few people use Coombe Junction Halt? Let’s take a look.

Where is Coombe Junction Halt?

Part of the reason why Coombe Junction Halt is the least-used station in Cornwall is down to the rather odd geography of the Looe Branch Line. Here’s a (not very professional) map of the railways in the area:

Railways around Coombe and Liskeard

As you can see, the Looe Branch Line is a bit of an odd shape. All trains leave from Platform 3 at Liskeard, which is perpendicular to the main Penzance – Plymouth route. It then departs north before turning around and passing under the main line.

Just short of Coombe Junction Halt, you’ll find Coombe Groundframe. All trains going between Liskeard and Looe (and vice-versa) need to reverse around this point. The guard will then get out, manually change the points and the train will continue.

This is just short of Coombe Junction Halt itself, so there’s no need for the train to continue into the platform. As a result, most trains skip it entirely. Until November 2020, cement trains also operated on this route. They’d continue through Coombe Junction Halt and head towards Moorswater. While the line is not ‘officially’ closed, it is extremely overgrown as of June 2024.

If you want to pay a visit to the least-used station in Cornwall, these are the only trains that call:

  • Looe (07:54) – Coombe Jn Halt (08:16-08:19) – Liskeard (08:26)
  • Liskeard (08:30) – Coombe Jn Halt (08:36-08:39) – Looe (09:03)
  • Looe (15:16) – Coombe Jn Halt (15:38-15:41) – Liskeard (15:48)
  • Liskeard (15:50) – Coombe Jn Halt (15:56-15:59) – Looe (16:23).
  • Liskeard (08:27) – Coombe Jn Halt – (08:33-08:36) – Looe (08:59)
  • Looe (09:02) – Coombe Jn Halt (09:22-09:25) – Liskeard (09:33)
  • Looe (15:19) – Coombe Jn Halt (15:39-15:42) – Liskeard (15:50)
  • Liskeard (15:54) – Coombe Jn Halt (16:00-16:03) – Looe (16:26).

A visit to the least-used station in Cornwall

So, on a warm afternoon in June, I decided that it was time to visit the least-used station in Cornwall. There are two ways to do this.

Either you can take a ride out from Looe, twiddle your thumbs for 15 minutes or so, then ride back, or you can walk to/from Liskeard. If you’re doing this, it’s most sensible to walk from Liskeard, as there’s quite a steep hill.

Naturally, I was walking to Liskeard. Maybe I’m just a sucker for punishment. In any case, I enjoyed a scenic ride along from Looe and jumped off at the least-used station in Cornwall:

gwr train at the least used station in cornwall, coombe junction halt

It’s a bit of a dinky platform, though the two-car train could just about fit. I wasn’t the only one jumping off to take a photo, though I was the only one who didn’t get back on afterwards. Meanwhile, it was very clear that this was the end of the line for trains at the moment:

end of the line at coombe junction halt

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t actually where the changing of the points takes place. As a result, it was a fairly quick turnaround and the guard checked I definitely wanted to be left alone at the least-used station in Cornwall.

Once the train left, it was clear that the track by the platform could do with a bit of a trim, too:

Coombe Junction Halt, the least-used station in Cornwall

What you see in the photo above is almost entirely what you get! There were a couple of information boards talking about the history of the station and the area, a waiting shelter and a help point.

If you want to walk up to Liskeard, then keep strolling in the direction of Moorswater (next to the very overgrown track) then turn right up the bank. When you get to the top, you’ll find the classic British Rail double-arrows:

coombe junction halt entrance

Why doesn’t anybody use this station? I got my answer as soon as I walked out. There isn’t much here! You’ll find a couple of houses and that’s your lot. It’s also so close to Liskeard that it’s far more convenient to head up the hill to there instead.

Now, this is where the walk to Liskeard gets a little tricky. It isn’t particularly long (I managed it in about 15 minutes) but the road is steep and lacks any kind of path. You need to keep your wits about you.

I had to jump to the side a couple of times to avoid oncoming cars. So, it’s probably less strenuous (and stressful) to hang about and go back to Looe on the train. Alternatively, as I mentioned above, walk from Liskeard to save yourself from breaking too much of a sweat!

Nonetheless, the least-used station in Cornwall is a fun little curiosity to visit. Even if you don’t stop off, I’d still recommend taking a ride on the line to Looe. It’s a quirky (and beautiful) stretch of railway with a stunning harbour and seaside town at the end.

Is there anything else I should know?

If you want to pay a visit to the least-used station in Cornwall, then we’d recommend booking your tickets through Railsmartr. We don’t charge any refund or exchange fees, so there’s no penalty for changing your mind.

We’ve got a bunch of other Expert Tips to help you travel smarter. Don’t forget to visit our Instagram page for more trip inspiration and travel tips, too.

Author Richard

Hi, I'm Richard and I've been working for Railsmartr since 2022. I make sure that everything we communicate with customers is top-notch and write exciting and informative content for the website. When I'm not at work, you'll still find me on the rails - though often in the far corners of Europe!