21st June, 2020

Great bookshops by train – and how to buy online

We’ve just launched our Book Trail. The aim of this is to give you more suggestions for places to visit when leisure travel is permitted again and to encourage you not to wait until then but to explore the bookshops’ online stock and buy now.

There are all manner of bookshops on the Trail – antiquarian, general secondhand, independent new and the chains Waterstones, WH Smith and The Works. All are either in rail served towns and cities or easily reached by bus from stations.

Favourite secondhand bookshops
For me, there’s little nicer than looking along the shelves in a well stocked secondhand bookshop. There are several of these, across the two counties.

Here are some of my favourites:

Tarka Books in Barnstaple – Well located just off Boutport St in the town centre, it has a wide range of books. It’s a short bus ride or about twenty minutes walk from the station. It offers online sales.


The Topsham Bookshop in Topsham – Located in the town centre, around ten minutes’ walk from the station, this is a Tardis of a bookshop, its small shopfront not preparing you for the three floors of books inside. I once found a 1935 Plymouth tram map there!


The Old Hall Bookshop in Looe – Situated in Shutta Road, just off the main Fore Street in East Looe before you get to the Guildhall, this lovely large bookshop is in an old chapel and specialises in secondhand books. It’s no more than ten minutes’ walk from the station. It offers online sales through Abe Books.


Bookmarks in Falmouth – In Arwenack Street, just over five minutes’ walk from Falmouth Town station. This corner shop at the beginning of the main shopping area is stacked full of secondhand books. As an indication of just how random secondhand bookshops can be, I once found there an 1880s study of the church in the Surrey village I grew up in.

More to explore
We placed an advert on Facebook to encourage people to let us know their favourite bookshop in Devon and Cornwall and a couple of people named Lost in Books in Lostwithiel. I’m looking forward to visiting when this next becomes possible (and in the meantime they offer online sales). It’s easier than it was as Lostwithiel now has an hourly train service to and from Plymouth and Truro. Others mentioned Crediton Community Bookshop and that’s on my list too.

Explore the whole trail and support our local bookshops.

Richard Burningham
Manager, Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership
(and owner of at least 500 books!)