Filled with stunning scenery, charming villages, coastal paths and amazing spots to try out delicious food, the South West coast of England has something for everyone. Why not take your electric car to this idyllic area for an electric adventure this summer!
South West 660: St Austell to Penzance
The South West 660 is an iconic road-trip experience, all about ‘slow travel’ – thoroughly enjoying the beauty of your surroundings while on your adventure. The entire 660-mile route runs from Poole in Dorset around Devon and Cornwall to Watchet in Somerset. You can choose to drive it in one amazing motoring marathon, or split it into sections for shorter holidays.
Zapmap users can get £5 off the South West 660 membership. Use the code zapmap15 to redeem your discount.
We highly recommend planning your route before you set off on your road trip, with either the Zapmap app or web map. Whether home is miles away or closer to the South West, Zapmap will help you plan your route with stops along the way to top up on charge.
Zapmap has three different routing modes to choose from, you can also customise your route by inputting your EV’s level of charge prior to leaving. Plus, you can select the level of charge you’d like remaining for when you reach your destination too. Simply open the route planner menu to get started.
While it’s by no means the best-served part of the country in terms of charging provision, each of the South West 660’s coastal stretches are approximately 50 miles long, so these routes are certainly manageable for EVs with ranges on the lower end. Even with all of the exciting diversions you might take, you’ll never be too far from a charge point - just keep your eye on Zapmap for the charger that’s most convenient for you and your EV.
The route itself
If you’re low on charge as you begin this coastal road trip, there are a number of rapid chargers available if you're approaching from Bodmin, Lostwithiel or near Victoria. We'd recommend stopping by one of Geniepoint chargers, where you can pay via the Zapmap app with Zap-Pay, or at Cornwall Services where there are six rapid GRIDSERVE devices.
Following the South West 660 route will take you down Pentewan Hill leading down to Pentewan Beach, and the next stretch of road offers perfect views from the cliff top bends of the B3273 to Mevagissey.
“Leaving St Austell it’s tempting to stick to the A390. You may reach your destination quicker but probably won’t remember anything about the journey. Instead try hugging the coast.” – South West 660
Keep on driving, or stop – remember you’re ‘travelling slow’ – to explore whenever you want. Ahead you’ll find the coves of Portmellon, Gorran Haven, The Lost Gardens of Heligan if you decide to veer inland a little, and the magnificent but little-known Vault Beach.
Hemmick Beach can be found just to the west of Dodman Point on the Roseland Peninsula.
Truro is not far ahead, with PodPoint charge points available at both Tesco and Lidl. And if you have the range to reach Falmouth, there are ample 22kW fast chargers available within the town, great for charging more slowly as part of a longer stay. Check out the town’s maritime museum, semi-tropical gardens, waterfront restaurants, popular sandy beaches - or some of its charming cafes for a coffee.
“Thanks to our analysis of charging sessions that take place each month through the Zapmap app, we know that around lunchtime is the busiest time to charge,” says Zapmap Head of Insights, Jade Edwards.
"Of course, this varies substantially depending on the speed of the charger and which area of the UK the charging session takes place.
“But as a general rule of thumb, stopping for breakfast and charging first thing in the morning or taking a leisurely break later in the afternoon tends to be the best time to top up the battery."
St. Mawes Castle is among the best-preserved of Henry VIII's coastal artillery fortresses, find it in Truro on the A3078
The coastal roads along this route aren’t continuous, so don't be surprised if you find yourself zipping inland every now and then. Enjoy the scenery and don't stress over missed turns because there will be plenty of small roads to get you back on track.
Three InstaVolt rapid charge points are conveniently located at The Foundry in Porthleven, which you’re likely to pass on the B3304 from Penrose. They offer charging at up to 120kW, and accept contactless payment.
South West 660 has a huge list of recommended places to visit, including the unspoilt creeks of Helford – a protected wildlife area, perfect for dolphin spotting, and The Lizard, Britain's most southerly headland - offering coastal walks between tiny coves and fishing villages.
Once you reach Penzance you’ll find fast 22kw Type 2 as well as rapid CHAdeMO 50kW charge points available at the Harbour Long Stay Car Park on Wharf Road, courtesy of Swarco E.Connect. This will give you the chance to charge up while you explore the town and port.
Helpful tips for your EV adventure
- You can use Zapmap to bookmark charge points ahead of time at places close to your chosen destinations, taking the hassle out of finding them en route
- Charging locations are usually busier at lunchtime – try to charge early or late to avoid the busiest times during the peak summer months
- Find charge points quickly and easily, as well as view live status information on the move, with Zapmap Premium. This means you can access Zapmap in your car dashboard via Apple Car Play or Android Auto
- As with any long car journey, be prepared for the worst but expect the best; take plenty of water and other essentials in case of the unexpected.
Head to South West 660’s route 7 for more info on this route, plus highlights for the rest of this journey and the other South West 660 routes.
With that, we wish you the best of luck on your road trip – and safe driving!