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Southwest England

Getting around

It's quite possible to get around the region by bus or train, but as always you'll have much more freedom if you bring your own wheels. Timetables and transport maps for public transport are available from stations and tourist offices, and the handy Car-Free Days Out (www.carfreedaysout.com) booklet has public-transport listings.

Car & motorcycle

Car

All the main car-hire firms (Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar) have offices at airports and main-line train stations. Rates in this region are similar to elsewhere in the UK, starting from around £35 per day for a small hatchback; one-way and short-term rentals often incur a hefty surcharge. The budget operator easyCar (www.easycar.com) often offers the most competitive deals and has branches in Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Bath.

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Bus & tram

Bus

The region's bus network is fairly comprehensive, but becomes increasingly patchy the further you move away from the main towns; Dartmoor and west Cornwall are particularly tricky to negotiate. National Express coaches usually provide the quickest routes between cities and larger towns. For regional timetables, call 01392-382800 in Devon or 01872-322142 in Cornwall, or contact Traveline (0870 608 2 608; www.travelinesw.com).

The First group (0845 600 1420; www.firstgroup.com) provides the majority of the region's bus services. The First Bus & Rail Card (one/seven days £11/44) allows unlimited travel on First Great Western trains and most First buses in Cornwall and Devon. The pass can be bought from bus drivers and main railway stations. The Firstday Southwest (adult £7) is valid on First buses in Devon and Cornwall, as well as Bristol, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset.

The PlusBus scheme allows you to add on bus travel around many main towns (including Bristol, Exeter, Bath and Plymouth) to your train ticket from around £2 per day - ask at any train station or check out www.plusbus.info.

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Train

The main train line to the southwest follows the historic Great Western Railway route to Bristol, from where there are regular links to London Paddington, as well as services north to Scotland via Birmingham. Bristol also has connections to most other towns across the region including Bath, Swindon, Chippenham, Bradford-on-Avon, Weymouth and Southampton. Trains from London Waterloo also travel to Salisbury, Southampton and Weymouth. Beyond Exeter, the main-line travels west via Liskeard, St Austell, Truro and Penzance, with spur lines to Barnstaple, Paignton, Gunnislake, Looe, Falmouth, St Ives and Newquay.

The Freedom of the SouthWest Rover pass allows unlimited train travel west of Salisbury, Bath, Bristol and Weymouth. It's available in two versions, allowing either three days' travel in one week (£70) or eight days' travel in fifteen (£95). For more information contact National Rail Enquiries (08457 48 49 50; www.nationalrail.co.uk) or Traveline (0870 608 2 608; www.traveline.org.uk).

The Devon and Cornwall Rover ticket allows unlimited travel across the rail network throughout Devon and Cornwall. It's available either for three days' travel in one week (£40), or eight days' travel in fifteen (£60).

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