100 reasons to visit Cornwall #4: Aberfala or Falmouth? It’s all Cornish to me!
Before I came to live in Falmouth, I had wrongly assumed it was just a town with working docks. To be honest, I didn’t really think it had that much going for it. So, so wrong. Now living here, and loving living here, I am converted. I know that Falmouth is, quite simply, a terrific place, a thriving, vibrant town with so much to offer both visitors and inhabitants.
The geography of Falmouth is unusual and fascinating. Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII to protect The Carrick Roads and the mouth of the Fal River, stands majestically at the very tip of Pendennis point. Nestling at sea level below to the left are the docks full of industry and bustling with all ship related activity. Beyond them is the sprawling town, rising away on terraces affording occupants a wonderful panorama of an estuary full of boats, Flushing village, St Mawes, St Antony’s Lighthouse and the open sea. To the right of Pendennis point are Falmouth’s fabulous beaches: Castle, Tunnel, Gyllngvase and Swanpool, all beautiful.
Falmouth Town Map, showing its interesting geography
Castle, docks, beaches, town, but Falmouth is, of course, also a university town and home to a celebrated and world renowned Art College. Consequently, Falmouth is a wonderfully cosmopolitan town full of creative buzz. I would go as far as to say that Falmouth has so much more to offer than…say, St. Ives or…Penzance, but then I am biased.
There’s a great circular walk that you can take to explore all of Falmouth’s topography. It’s a walk we do fairly regularly and indeed, we walked part of it last week enjoying some of the wonderful scenery and wildlife. We parked up at the viewing area above the docks. It’s a great vantage point: to the left, views of the town rising up on terraces from sea level, below you the docks with their cranes and dry docks and ships waiting for repairs or re-fuelling. We walked from there along the bottom footpath, below the castle and the road that circles the point. The walk takes you through woods with glimpses through the trees over towards St Mawes. There is evidence in the dense undergrowth around here of the WWII defences created to protect Falmouth from enemy attack. The concrete remains of gunner’s posts and storage buildings overgrown with ivy and brambles are sited in a clearing along the route, overlooking the expanse of sea that marks the entrance to the estuary.
The very start of the footpath around Pendennis point
Beautiful views from the walk around Pendennis Point.
View from the walk along the point towards St Antony’s Lighthouse with Little Dennis in the foreground
Walking around Pendennis point, there are some perfect spots: tiny secluded beaches with beautiful clear waters
From Little Dennis at the water’s edge, views over towards St Mawes
Rounding the point: views towards the beaches
Walking back along the sea front from the walk around Pendennis Point this weekend: beautiful Gyllngvase Beach, Falmouth. If you look closely, you can see Stand Up Paddle Boarders making the most of the lovely water
Foodies are spoiled for choice in Falmouth. It’s not a huge place by any means – that’s part of its charm, but lots of restaurants and eateries, catering for a wide variety of different tastes, make their trade in the town. In fact, somebody told me that there were nearly two hundred places to eat in Falmouth. And, they’re all decent in my experience. Ok, so I can’t actually vouch for every single eatery in town, but we do make it our mission to try out different places we can recommend to our guests. This week we went to Stable.
The downstairs interior of Stable, Custom House Quay, Falmouth
http://stablepizza.com/locations/the-stable-falmouth/ It’s in a prime position overlooking Custom House Quay and is situated in the old Custom House itself. The building has been sympathetically restored and its design makes great use of the building’s original Georgian architectural features while bringing in a contemporary edge. Stable’s tag line is ‘Pizza. Pies and Cider’ so you can guess what’s on the menu! Although, there are also a tasty selection of sides, starters and deserts, the pizzas, with such names as ‘The Pendennis Porker’ are original and use locally sourced produce. They have a huge selection of ciders on offer and you can, as we did, mix and match by choosing a taster selection of five third of a pint glasses presented on a board. However, there are plenty of other beverages available, including a large selection of draught and bottled beers. Lush. And the pizza was pretty good too. And we’d go again, if only for the great building and its fabulous setting.
Our cider tasters at Stable. A tasting card comes too, but someone’s reading it I believe!
We found ourselves in the wonderful building that is King Charles Church on Saturday last.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_King_Charles_the_Martyr,_Falmouth This impressive building stands proudly on the corner of Arwenack and Church Street. We were there because our son was performing in a concert along with several other students from Falmouth School. It is a beautiful church and well worth a look round. The school’s musical performance was one of many summer concerts that the church is hosting. These are taking place every Saturday at 12pm. I can think of worse places to wander in to on a Saturday afternoon. It is an inspiring place to be.
The clock tower of King Charles Church in the centre of Falmouth
We love a bit of theatre and film action and we’re blessed with two such venues here in Falmouth. The Poly,http://thepoly.org/ right in the centre of Falmouth, along Church Street is, in its own words a ‘19th-century cultural centre with 4 galleries, for live performances, films and art exhibitions.’
The Poly, Church Street, Falmouth-terrific arts venue
We’ve enjoyed some great theatre performances in The Poly, as well as stand up comedians and Art Exhibitions, although we go there most often for their weekly film showings, which are edgy and arty – steering away from the main stream and offering something different to the other film venue here in Falmouth: Phoenix Cinema.
The Phoenix Cinema in Berkeley Vale, Falmouth
http://www.merlincinemas.co.uk/ The Phoenix is situated in The Old Drill Hall in Falmouth town and is a hub of activity. As well as showing several films and live theatre perfomances a day in their multiple screens, Phoenix have a great bar and kitchen. The food menu is varied and the meals are delicious. You can even order and eat in two of the screens; we also love that there are sofas and side tables in these screens so that you can enjoy your food and drinks in comfort. Luxury! We went there last week to see Far From the Madding Crowd. It was good. I’d recommend it. And Phoenix Cinema. And The Poly. And Falmouth.