A UK break in Falmouth: Cornish maritime history on the South West Coast Path

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UK break in Falmouth

This article is brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Embark on a memorable getaway in Falmouth, a charming Cornish seaside town that effortlessly blends tradition with creativity. Its deep-water harbor has witnessed a captivating history, some of which involved illicit activities and connections to piracy during the 18th century. Today, locals remain deeply connected to the ebb and flow of the tides, with a family-run fishery supplying restaurants and paddleboarders gracefully gliding along the estuary.

What truly distinguishes Falmouth is its vibrant creative scene, fueled by the presence of two universities, one of which is renowned for its arts programs. Indie theatre, music, comedy, and art exhibitions grace the listings of cozy venues, while the annual sea shanty and oyster festivals, free for all to enjoy, are cherished local traditions.

Things to Do

Embark on a journey along the South West Coast Path to discover a multitude of local highlights in one expedition. Begin at the historic Pendennis Castle, dating back to the 16th century, and traverse the beautiful Gyllyngvase (known as “Gylly”) and Swanpool Beaches. As you continue, you’ll encounter serene coves, mossy forests, picturesque farmland, and breathtaking valleys until you reach Helford Passage. This moderate route spans approximately seven miles, but shorter options are available. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, as well as harbor porpoises, which are frequently spotted here, along with occasional appearances by common seals or minke whales. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the South West Coast Path, and to join in the festivities, you can purchase a commemorative ‘passport’ online and have it stamped at designated stops along the way. For a truly immersive coastal experience and a chance to engage in the locals’ favorite watersport, don’t miss a paddleboarding excursion. Visit the friendly team at Blü Paddle Co, located on Gylly Beach, for equipment rentals or guided tours.

Also celebrating its 20th birthday is the National Maritime Museum, where visitors can delve into the fascinating stories and scientific wonders of the sea. The museum’s new exhibition, “Pirates,” delves into the intriguing world of Cornish smuggling, while the broader collection showcases some of the county’s most renowned maritime events. One highlight is the extraordinary survival tale of the Robertson family abroad the yacht tender Ednamair, exhibited in the main hall. History enthusiasts can also participate in a walking tour with Falmouth Uncovered, which delves deeper into the town’s darker historical aspects.

Where to Dine

At the waterfront Star & Garter, savor not only the stunning view but also the delectable food. This gastropub-cum-chophouse serves locally sourced produce cooked over wood and flame. Indulge in dishes like grilled pollock in saffron broth with smoked mash and parmesan-covered greens. The venue also offers stylish accommodation options.

For a contemporary dining experience with sweeping harbor views, head to IndiDog. This lively eatery, named after the friendly owners’ beloved Hungarian visla, infuses Asian twists into traditional favorites. Expect a menu centered around seafood sourced from local waters, accompanied by regular live music performances.

Must-See Attractions

A short distance southwest of Falmouth lies Trebah, a 26-acre subtropical valley boasting exotic gardens. Explore highlights such as the giant gunnera patch, rhododendron and bamboo groves, all tucked beneath a verdant canopy of jungle-like tree ferns and resilient palms. A spring-fed stream cascades down to a private beach on the Helford River, where remnants from the Second World War serve as a poignant reminder of Cornwall’s role in the historic 1944 D-Day landings.

The Seaweed Institute is a noteworthy endeavor that seamlessly combines community, nature, and food, with a specific focus on seaweed. Through day-long workshops, participants can forage, cook, and create crafts using various types of marine algae while engaging in discussions about its significance in Cornish culture. This unique experience connects people to Falmouth’s oceanic surroundings.

Where to Stay

Nestled in a serene leafy area of town, Merchants Manor offers an enchanting stay. Once a shipping merchant’s home, this establishment has been transformed into an elegant adults-only boutique hotel. Immerse yourself in the luxurious atmosphere, enjoy the three AA rosette restaurant, Rastella, and admire the bright and chic rooms adorned with local art. For an extra indulgence, consider booking a luxury garden cabin complete with a private whirlpool bath. Prices start from £240 per night, including breakfast.

With its prominent harbor position, the Greenbank Hotel has been a pillar of Falmouth’s hospitality scene since 1785. Notably, author Kenneth Grahame wrote parts of the classic tale “The Wind in the Willows” during his stay here. The hotel’s two-AA Rosette restaurant, The Water’s Edge, offers exquisite Taste of Cornwall tasting menus. The classic and nautically themed rooms provide a comfortable retreat, while the suites feature freestanding baths. Prices start from £179 per night, including breakfast.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about UK break in Falmouth

What is the South West Coast Path?

The South West Coast Path is a scenic walking route that spans along the coastline of southwest England. It offers the opportunity to explore various local highlights, including historical sites, beautiful beaches, coves, forests, farmland, and valleys.

What can I do in Falmouth?

In Falmouth, you can immerse yourself in the town’s maritime history by visiting Pendennis Castle and exploring the National Maritime Museum. You can also enjoy outdoor activities such as walking the South West Coast Path, paddleboarding along the estuary, and attending local festivals. Don’t miss the opportunity to dine at waterfront restaurants and visit the charming gardens of Trebah.

Are there accommodations available in Falmouth?

Yes, Falmouth offers a range of accommodations to suit different preferences. You can choose from boutique hotels like Merchants Manor and the historic Greenbank Hotel, both offering beautiful views of the harbor. There are also other options available in the town, providing a comfortable stay during your visit.

What is the Seaweed Institute?

The Seaweed Institute in Falmouth is a unique organization that focuses on promoting seaweed and its cultural significance. They offer workshops where you can learn about foraging, cooking, and crafts using different types of marine algae. It’s an opportunity to connect with Falmouth’s oceanic surroundings and discover the role of seaweed in Cornish culture.

How can I subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine?

To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, you can visit their website and follow the subscription process. Please note that availability may vary depending on your location, as the magazine is only available in select countries.

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