3 Days in Falmouth
There is plenty to explore around Falmouth if you have 3 days to spare.
Day 1 - Falmouth - Spirit of the Sea
I was very pleasantly surprised by Falmouth. I have visited Cornwall many times, but never travelled this far South before. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from Falmouth – it is one of those places that just didn’t conjure up a mental image when I heard the name – until now. Now, I will think of it for evermore as a jolly, bustling little place that really does justice to its claim to be “the spirit of the sea”. If I stayed in this part of the world again, I would happily choose Falmouth as a base, every time. The Greenbank Hotel is the perfect place to stay there too.
I was surprised to learn that Falmouth is the third deepest natural harbour in the world. This gives it a great natural advantage which it makes full use of to generate the wealth that built the town and supports it to continue to look as “well heeled” as it does today. Cruiseliners can dock easily here, ships can refuel/bunker in the harbour and the town also caters for naval ships and a luxury yacht building business.
Probably the reason I have never been this far South before is that it is a long way to travel. We didn’t rush to set off at the crack of dawn and so it took us most of the day to drive down to Falmouth. By the time we had explored the pretty, bunting filled streets, the sun was beginning to set on our first day in South West Cornwall. Perfect timing for a drink at The Boathouse – one of the last few remaining free houses in Falmouth with great beer (try the Porthleven Truth Drink) and postcard worthy views.
Day 2 - Falmouth/St. Mawes
Travelling to Cornwall late in October is always a bit of a gamble weather wise. We were extremely lucky on this trip to have six dry days and a lot of warm Autumn sunshine. Whether I would have enjoyed Falmouth as much in the rain I don’t know – I’m just really glad luck was on our side this trip.
A sunny morning was the perfect opportunity to walk the length of the peninsular all around to the castle Pendennis Point and back to the town via Swanpool Beach. Surfers and kayakers kept us company along the route and the soundtrack was waves and seagulls – yes – we were truly embracing the spirit of the sea as we walked. You really could eat any cuisine you wanted in Falmouth. The huge variety of restaurants ranges from African to Italian with a pretty good smattering of the rest of the world in between. Of course, you can find good old British fish and chips in abundance too. Falmouth is a student town and the youthful population gives it an enjoyable vibrancy as do the quirky arts and crafts shops.
What do you have for lunch on your first day in Cornwall? A Cornish pasty, obviously. It is your duty. Just make sure you don’t share it with a hungry seagull. They have frequently been spotted tearing a pasty from a child’s hand. They know better than anyone where all the best pasty and chip shops are and they guard their territory jealously.
What is it about a ferry boat that just makes you want to get on it and see where it is going? You sort of know that what lies on the other side of a stretch of water tantalisingly just out of view can’t really be very much different from what you can see where you are standing, but human nature being what it is, curiosity usually gets the better of even a seasoned traveller. So we spent the afternoon making the ferry crossing o St. Mawes. It only takes twenty minutes, costs just £5 and runs on the hour every hour with the last return boat at 4.30 pm – what’s not to like? St. Mawes is bucolic – pastel cottages, thatched roofs and what must surely be the UK’s prettiest little castle. Go on – you know you just have to go and see it up close for yourself?
Day 3 - Helford Estuary
The sunrise over Falmouth Harbour was truly spectacular this morning., proving the point that you don’t always have to travel far to see something spectacular. The UK has it all – you just have to be prepared to go and seek it out.
Today, we made our way over to the Helford Estuary. We were searching for hidden beaches – off the usual tourist trail and the Helford Estuary didn’t disappoint us. You can walk the North or the South shore – or both if you are feeling really energetic. There is a ferry service connecting the two which runs from The appropriately names Ferryboat Inn (North Shore – Durgan Beach). If you are finding your way by sat nav, use TR11 5LD as your postcode and be careful not to drive past the Ferryboat Inn Car Park when you arrive. If you overshoot it, you will have to wind your way through the little harbour, scraping past the gauntlet of colourful fishing boats lined up on the harbour wall until you eventually emerge into a tiny turning space. You can guess what we did – that’s how we know just how narrow that road really is!
The Ferryboat Inn has a wide selection to tempt you on the menu and makes a good pitstop choice. Well, in fact, it is really the only pitstop choice around here!
It is such a pretty walk. Your view changes constantly as you glimpse the estuary between the breaks in the hedge. We were visiting in October and met only a couple of people along the way. This genuinely does seem to be a hidden part of our increasingly crowded little country.
Cornish Gardens - Trebah and Glendurgan
Cornwall’s relatively mild climate makes it superb for gardening. Sub tropical plant can grow here which makes visiting gardens in this part of the world a real treat. Spring is better than Autumn if you are coming for this reason though. When we visited in late October, Trebah was unfortunately closed. Glendurgan (National Trust) was still open, although (mid Covid-19 pandemic) for pre-booked visitors only. It was a pleasant visit, but the Spring show would have been much more spectacular. There was also great disappointment that the maze had been closed to respect social distancing – especially as we were the only visitors at the time.