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Pasties and Pubs!
Falmouth in general
Member Name: fizzle
Falmouth in general
Date: 04/09/01, updated on 04/09/01 (276 review reads)
Advantages: Lots of pubs and beaches and things!
Disadvantages: A bit rundown - very violent seagulls!
Well Newquay is great for surfing, Truro has a cathedral, St Ives is a haven for art lovers so what’s poor old Falmouth got to offer, apart from numerous pubs and pasty shops? Well in my view Falmouth has got a lot to offer (although I might be a bit biased because this is where I grew up).
Falmouth is a natural harbour situated on the south-west coast of Cornwall. Shipping is a very important part of Falmouth’s heritage. During the mid 18th century Falmouth was one of the premier ports in the world. This legacy can be seen in many of the pub names: The Clipper, The Cutty Sark, The Pirate, and The Admiral (I think some of the names might have been changed in the last few years which is a shame). Well that's the history part, so what's Falmouth like now?
Well shipping is still very important and Falmouth definitely has a nautical feel about it. There are two main quays at either end of the main street: The Prince of Wales Quay and Customs House Quay. You can take pleasure boat trips from either quay which I would definitely recommend: sailing down the River Fal for the afternoon, taking a trip over to the tiny village of St Mawes or stopping for lunch at Smugglers Cottage. A short distance from the town centre is Falmouth Marina, which has over three hundred berths for both resident and visiting yachts and is a major boat repair centre.
Falmouth town centre consists of one long winding street (so pretty hard to get lost or miss anything). You can find most of the main high street names such as Marks and Spencers, Boots, Smiths, Dorothy Perkins etc. More interesting in my opinion are the gift shops, second hand bookshops, and art/craft galleries. Towards the top end of the High Street (a part much less frequented because it’s up a slight hill) are many tiny antique and bric-a-brac shops. The main street is quite narrow and cobbled and it looks like it is an entirely pedestrianised street but be warned, traffic can
still drive freely through the town centre (and dawdling tourists in the middle of the road is definitely enough to drive you mad!).
There are numerous cafes and small restaurants in Falmouth. I never really found a café which I thought was particularly good – although the Cavendish tearoom in the middle of town is always popular. I’d recommend having lunch in one of the numerous pubs, particularly the pubs surrounding the quayside such as The Quayside pub (very aptly named) because you can sit out by the water (when the weather is good!). The pubs tend to be quite traditional; the big chain pubs are yet to reach Falmouth. Although I’ve heard that a Wetherspoons is soon to open and a new tapas/drinks bar has just opened (bit of a first for Falmouth). If you want to sample traditional Cornish fare and try a pasty then locals would recommend Rowes or Rollings pasties. In the past few years a number of “new” pasty shops have opened in Falmouth, offering more exotic fillings (banana and chocolate pasty anyone?) these shops are much more tourist orientated and generally looked down upon by those in the know (eg cornish folk).
A 10/15 minutes walk from the main street (which is signposted) will take you to Falmouth’s sea front, this is where all the beaches are (funnily enough!). Falmouth has a number of beaches: Gyllynvase, Castle, Swanpool and Maenporth. Gyllanvase is the largest and probably the sandiest of the three. As a child I always favoured Castle Beach because this was where all the rock pools were (all my school holidays were spent on the beach, along with the rest of my entire school). During the summer months you can get buses out to the seafront if the walk is too much to manage. Falmouth also has some lovely gardens, there’s The Princess Pavilion (which also has some events and shows) and Fox Rosehill Gardens where banana trees grow because of Cornwall’s mild climate
Looking over th
e sea front, on the Pendennis Point headland, is the imposing sight of Pendennis Castle. The castle was built between 1539-64 by King Henry VIII as a defence against the threat of a French invasion. The castle is open to visitors (£3.80 adults, £1.90 children) and faces St Mawes Castle directly across the water. I haven’t been around the castle but I have seen events in the grounds which I would highly recommend. I saw a great performance of Hamlet with scenes taking place along the battlements of the castle. They often have battle re-enactments in costume, which are great for the kids. It’s worth visiting Pendennis just for the views alone.
If you fancy staying in Falmouth then there are numerous hotels and B&Bs; the majority of these are out by the seafront or on either end of the main street. Falmouth provides a good base for exploring many parts of Cornwall, being within quite easy reach of the Helford Estuary, Truro and the Lizard Peninsula.
In the evenings there are numerous pubs to frequent (my idea of heaven) – some of these do get very busy in the summer though. Falmouth also has two small night-clubs (Shades and Club International). These are good for somewhere to go if you want to carry on past pub closing time (many a drunken night I’ve spent in these lovely places) but which aren’t particularly great venues (I’m trying to be polite here). The Pirate, however, is a great place for live bands. Falmouth is largely dependent on tourism so you will find it quite busy if you visit in the summer and practically empty if you visit off-season (although in my opinion the beaches improve when they’re windswept and deserted).
On the downside, in some places Falmouth looks a bit run down (and at times you think the pavements are going to be taken over by the seagulls), it’s a bit on the small side, it can sometimes be a bit rowdy in the evenings and it isn’t the most sophisticated of to
wns. However Falmouth might not have quite the spectacular beaches you find on the north coast of Cornwall and it might not be as picture postcard pretty as towns such as St Ives and Padstow but it still has its unique charms. Lovely views, harbours, beaches, gift shops, oh and pasties and pubs, Falmouth is well worth a visit.