The Liskeard to Looe branch was earmarked for closure by Doctor Beeching, but was reprieved just two weeks before the last train was due to run. Reportedly this was because of concerns about the state of the roads in the area, which would have made it impossible to provide a reasonable replacement bus. Walking the road between St Keyne and Causeland stations, I could understand the problem; the single-track road was very narrow. Cars were few and far between, but when one did appear I had to scramble onto the narrow grass verge to let them pass safely.
The road veers away from the railway, leading uphill, past the wishing well mentioned in my previous post, and into a land of trees and greenery. There are isolated farmhouses and a couple of small B&Bs, but little else.
At one point the road crossed a stream. Rather than build a bridge, the water was apparently left to just gush into the road and then down a nearby drain. That isn’t something you see every day. Unless of course you live here.
I was a little concerned about getting lost, but there was only one point on the whole walk where I was faced with a choice of paths to follow, and even then the decision was obvious: I took the road which led back down to the valley floor. My decision was proved correct when the trees thinned out and I could see the railway line again. A few minutes later I saw the signpost for Causeland station.
Now I was faced with a problem. The walk from St Keyne to Causeland had been a lot shorter than I anticipated. It was barely quarter past eleven, and the next train wasn’t due until 12.31. For some reason, although the basic service on the line is roughly hourly, a couple of trains each day omit all the intermediate station stops, leaving a two-hour gap between trains. And I was stuck right in the middle of that gap.
I had a lot of time to explore, but there’s not a huge amount to see – Causeland is another middle-of-nowhere station; the surrounding villages being some distance away. Nearby there are some holiday cottages, with an off-putting “PRIVATE PROPERTY” notice slapped on the fence right outside the station.
There is also a small farm offering free range eggs to passing trade (assuming they get passing trade). The packs of eggs were simply left in a box outside the front door of the building, with a note saying “post payment through letterbox” – a level of trust incomprehensible to this cynical city-dweller. A faded, home-made sign warned of “loose animals in the road”, but I didn’t see any.
Not wanting to stray too far from the station, I returned to Causeland. It has been spruced up in recent years (compare the photos below with the decrepit 1987 station depicted on Wikimedia Commons) and is overall a pleasant place to wait. I felt a few drops of rain so, after getting the requisite under-sign photo, I waited in the shelter and ate my emergency pork pie.
On one side of the line is the East Looe River, while there is a small stream on the other side. It didn’t show up on the photos I took, but there was a plastic Starbucks Frappuccino cup lodged amongst some rocks on the bed of the stream. How on earth did that get there? The nearest Starbucks is in Plymouth. It would take a phenomenal amount of effort to get a Starbucks-branded plastic cup all the way from Plymouth, just to discard it in a stream. Clearly we are dealing with an extreme anti-social here.
As the minutes ticked by, I experienced a feeling I would not have much during this Cornwall trip: boredom. My usual tedium-reliever – Twitter – was inaccessible due to lack of mobile signal. I ended up studying each and every poster on the platform intently. The National Rail map in particular amused me, with the Liskeard to Looe line barely noticeable, tucked away at the bottom left corner.
Apart from that, there was not much to do except sit and wait. For the first time on the trip, I lamented not having invited someone along with me. At least I would have had someone to talk to.
I was grateful when the train finally appeared and I was able to flag it down and climb aboard. After all that waiting, however, I had just three minutes of actual train riding before I reached the next station.