Tuesday 21 June 2016
Helford Passage to Falmouth
Wendy and Brian’s house
After breakfast I caught the bus back to Helford Passage and walked back down the steep hill to the Helford River.
Within a mile I had walked past two spectacular gardens that one can pay to enter: Trebah and Glendurgan. Both backed into the Helford River and there were lots of little coves, often with small boats moored.
At one cove I took a wrong turning (I swear I followed the signpost) and headed inland through a lovely wood. It took me a while to twig I was going wrong because often the path heads slightly inland and greenery obscures the view. Anyway, I ended up in Mawnan Smith, adding at least a mile to my walk.
I made it back to the coast by the church at Mawnan and headed around Rosemullion Head.
I arrived at Maenporth and stopped for a spot of lunch, a warm mackerel sandwich. There were lots of kids in the water undertaking various activities from paddleboarding to kayaking and sailing. At all times, all views included at least one large tanker as well as lots of small yachts.
Rain hadn’t been forecast but not long after leaving Maenporth the heavens opened. I sheltered under some trees for a while and then ran towards Swanpool Beach and the cafe there. The kids in the sea were unaffected.
It was ridiculously close and sweaty when the rain finally passed. I had reached Falmouth and made my way along the coast road to Pendennis Point.
The 1.5 mile Castle Drive circuit around Pendennis Point was the scene of the first motorcycle races to be held on public roads in Britain, 1931-37. A stone commemorated the fact.
Pendennis Castle (built 1645, just before the Civil War) stands atop the hill, commanding the entrance to the Carrick Roads, the huge stretch I water fed by the rivers Fal, Truro, Tresillian and Carnon. At Pendennis Point itself is “Little Dennis” Blockhouse, built in 1539 by King Henry VIII to protect the Fal Estuary. There are other fortifications that were built and manned in both World Wars.
It was a lovely walk around Pendennis Point, which is quite wooded but has great views across the Carrick Roads to the Roseland Peninsula.
I popped out of the woods to find myself overlooking Falmouth Docks, built in 1860. What an impressive sight. The Pendennis Shipyard is the first one and makes luxury super yachts.
The biggest dry dock was The Queen Elizabeth dock, which holds 128 million litres of water and takes 3 hours to empty.
The Port of Falmouth sits at the gateway to the Western Approaches, close to the world’s busiest shipping lanes. It is an international bunkering (refuelling) port, a Port of Refuge, and regarded as the “first and last port” for ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Falmouth really was built on the shipping industry. Alas, most of the industry has disappeared and now the Cornwall’s first university is the town’s biggest employer.
From the 17th to the 19th Century Falmouth was also the landing place for packet ships carrying news to and from Britain and her colonies and allies. This was where news of Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar first reached British shores.
I wandered through the town centre and back to Wendy and Brian’s house for a lovely roast dinner. I already felt at home.