Walk - Falmouth Docks Station - Town Walk
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- The Walk starts at the Custom House Quay. To get there come out of the station, down Pendennis Rise and turn right onto Bar Road. which then becomes Maritime Crescent. At the roundabout keep right and with car parks on your right follow Arwenack Street past the Maritime Museum to the Quay.
- From Custom House Quay walk up Quay Street and turn left on Arwenack Street, turning right just beyond to follow Swanpool Street uphill. Bear right at the top and follow the tree-lined avenue along Woodlane, ignoring all the side roads, to come out on the main road at the top of the hill.
From the seventeenth century, Falmouth's Custom House Quay was the only place in Britain where the foreign mail came in and out, on the famous Packet Ships. These small, fast two-masted brigs carried bullion too, as well as important passengers and secret government intelligence from all corners of the Empire (see the Packet Trail Walk).
- Cross the main road and carry straight on ahead along Pennance Road, turning right at the crossroads after the railway bridge.
- On Swanpool Hill take the lane to the left at the No Entry sign and follow Madeira Walk past the cemetery and onto Madeira Road briefly before turning right onto the footpath downhill to Swanpool.
- Turn right to follow the South West Coast Path around the back of Swanpool Beach and walk across the car park, past the end of the lake, to come out on the road beyond.
In 1825 a culvert built at Swanpool to allow water from the freshwater lake to flow into the sea resulted in a unique mix of seawater and freshwater and created one of Britain's most important brackish lagoons. At the same time, it lowered the water level in the lake, leaving an area of marshland to the north west of it, fed by six streams winding through on their way to the sea.
This in turn produced a small, densely wooded wetland behind the lake, consisting mostly of willow carr. In this rare and precious environment the willow acts as a filter, removing pollutants before they are able to flow into the lake, and at the same time providing food and shelter for many birds and small mammals. Willow trees can support as many as 450 different species of invertebrates, and this in turn attracts a wide variety of birds. The wet floor and humid atmosphere of this wet woodland also encourages the growth of rushes and ferns, as well as mosses and lichens.
Although the name is probably derived from 'swamp-pool' there are in fact swans nesting on the lake. However, in Spring 2011 a black swan tried to join the lake's bird community, which caused such an uproar among the less aggressive mute swans already here that the RSPCA was called in to remove it and take it to live among its own kind elsewhere!
The species for which Swanpool is particularly famous is invisible underwater, but it is the only one of its kind in Britain. This is the trembling sea mat, an exotic-sounding creature consisting of billions of primitive microscopic animals called bryozoa, living in colonies attached to stones or the stems of plants. No more than two millimetres in size, each bryozoan is crowned by a ring of tentacles which it uses for filter feeding, catching particles in the water in the hairs on the tentacles.
- Turn right on the road and follow it around to the right, carrying on beside the water to go into the nature reserve, forking left after Swanpool Gardens to walk along the footpath through the trees to come out on a crossroad of footpaths.
This is the Boslowick district, whose houses are built on the site of a medieval settlement. The first record of a hamlet here was in 1301, when it was referred to as 'Bodelewyth', or 'Leuit's abode'. The name Boslowick did not appear until 1538, and it is thought to come from Cornish words meaning 'thicket' and 'pool'.
In the last enemy air raid of the Second World War, a large fuel depot at Boslowick was blown up. Intended for use in the D-Day landings, the fuel swept through the valley in a massive torrent which threatened the houses below. Thanks to the prompt actions of an American Navy officer with a bulldozer the flow was diverted, and he was awarded the British Empire Medal.
- Meeting Meadowside Road at the end of this footpath turn right onto another footpath, bearing left on the footpath by the No Entry sign at the junction between Marlborough Avenue and Silverdale Road. Carry straight on ahead when East Rise joins from the left, and follow it to the T-junction on Boslowick Road.
- Turn right and go under the railway bridge to carry on up Penmere Hill to Tregenver Road, coming out opposite the rugby ground.
- Turn right on the main road and walk a short distance to the next roundabout, crossing Dracaena Avenue and then turning left onto Killigrew Street. From here walk downhill to the Falmouth Moor, carrying straight on ahead to come out on Market Street.
The first Catholic church in Falmouth was a hut near the Customs House, erected by French fishermen at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was moved to Well Lane in 1818, before private donations, from the French Royal Family among others, made it possible for a new church to be built on Stratton Terrace, opened in 1821 and accommodating a congregation of 150. When a larger church was needed, the present building on the corner of Kimberley Place was constructed of granite and Portland stone in 1869.
Falmouth Moor has grown around a small village known as Smithick in the seventeenth century. A stream once flowed through here and on to Smithick Creek, operating a water mill along the way. The Moor is the now the hub of the town, and a market is held here twice a week.
John Wesley himself established the Wesleyan Methodist Society here in 1754, and the Methodist Chapel in Killigrew Street was built in 1891 and enlarged 13 years later. Two further Methodist chapels were later built, one in Porham Street and another on Pike's Hill.
The Passmore Edwards Free Library was one of 70 major buildings established through the bequests of Cornish Philanthropist John Passmore Edwards. The son of carpenter and born near Redruth in 1823, Edwards progressed from being a journalist to becoming a newspaper owner and a Liberal MP. A lifelong champion of the working man's rights, he was an international peace delegate and was staunchly opposed to the Boer War. As well as building the various libraries, schools, convalescent homes and art galleries throughout England, he made generous donations to many hospitals, as well as to the Workers' Educational Association.
- Turn right on Market Street, carrying on along Church Street to return to Arwenack Street and the start of the walk. From here follow Arwenack Street, Marine Crescent and Bar Road back to the station.
As Marine Crescent turns the corner into Bar Road, Falmouth Lifeboat Station can be seen down Tinner's Walk. In 1867, the first lifeboat, the 10-oared City of Gloucester cost £280, was stationed in the town. A carriage costing £98 10s enabled the boat to be transported to the best launch site for any particular rescue. The present station was opened in 1993 and operates an all weather boat and an inshore lifeboat.
There are a wide variety of cafes and restaurants in Falmouth.