Walk - Stay Cafe - Falmouth Docks

4.0 miles (6.5 km)

Stay Cafe - TR11 3XP Stay Cafe

Easy -

A tour of some of the historical features of the British Empire's second most important port, with its coastal artillery defences, the docks built after more than 16 thousand vessels visited in a nine-year period, and the Custom House Quay where the famous packet ships carried the post. A mostly level walk on pavements and good paths, with one steep hill to climb.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Falmouth Lodge Backpackers

Convenient, comfortable and friendly only 2 mins from the Coast Path and 5 mins from the town for supper and train station

Braganza B&B

Stunning views of the harbour and bay from our Regency home. The perfect base to explore locally. Ample parking, free wifi, style and elegance.

Portscatho Holidays Limited

Properties from converted stables to large luxury homes, including properties with sea views, Wi-Fi, parking, fires and wood burning stoves, many accepting pets.

Ship & Castle Hotel

Beside the harbour of nautical St Mawes with winding streets and ancient castle, this peaceful spot is an ideal base for a leisurely holiday

Trevarn B&B

Comfortable B/B. Convenient to coastal path and excellent village amenities. A warm welcome awaits.

The Rosevine

We are a boutique-apart hotel welcoming family, friends & couples to escape and enjoy a holiday in Cornwall

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Trebah Gardens

Sub-tropical garden leading to its own private beach. Adventure Play area & Children's Trails.1st class, award winning destination Cafe.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. This walk starts from the Stay Café. Come out of Discovery Quay and turn right. No more than 150 yards towards the centre of Falmouth you will see Custom House Quay.

Falmouth's famous packet ships arrived at and departed from Custom House Quay, which from the seventeenth century was the only place in Britain where foreign post came in and out. Bullion was carried too on these small, fast two-masted brigs, as well as important passengers and some secret government intelligence.

  1. After exploring Custom house Quay retrace your steps past Stay Café and follow Avenue Road, branching right when it meets Bar Road. Keep on Avenue Road, going under the railway bridge.
  2. Cross carefully over the A39 and go straight ahead into Gyllngvase Road leading down to Gyllngvase Beach.

Gyllyngvase Beach is Falmouth's largest beach, a fine crescent of sand at low tide fringed by fingers of rock which provide great opportunities for rock-pooling. Along the seawall exotic plants with large lush leaves and blossom are a riot of colour in the summer and the tall palms of the dracaena in the gardens give it a tropical air. Looking across the bay, you can see Pendennis Castle looking out over the tops of the woodland on the point.

  1. Follow the Coast Path along Cliff Road and then Castle Drive, which travels around the headland towards Pendennis Point.

To visit Pendennis Castle, take the left-hand fork on the headland; otherwise carry straight on along the road.
The footpath into woodland on your left here is just a pleasant (but fairly steep) detour which drops you back on the pavement a little further on along the headland.There is an old lime kiln on the point, used in the nineteenth century to make lime by burning limestone and coal, which would have been brought here by ship.
The Coastguard Station, just around the point, opened in 1981 and is the most southerly coastguard station in the UK. Its area extends from the Devon border on Cornwall's north coast to Dodman Point in the south, and includes the Lizard, Lands End and the Scilly Isles. With the area of sea covered reaching to 30 degrees west and 45 degrees north, this gives the station the biggest Search and Rescue region in western Europe, at around 660,000 square miles.
The blockhouse on the south-eastern tip of Pendennis Point was built as part of Pendennis Castle, which was built between 1540 and 1545, along with St Mawes Castle, across the water. Henry VIII was at war with France and Spain during this time, and the two castles were regarded as a critical link in a chain of coastal artillery fortresses built to defend England from the foreign fleets. Gun ports can still be seen on the lower floor of the blockhouse, and the long flat area beside it was its long platform, also used as an artillery site.
It is thought that there have been coastal defences here since the Iron Age, when a promontory fort was established, probably on the south-eastern tip of the headland where the blockhouse is now. There have been suggestions that the Romans and Vikings, too, mounted defensive operations at the mouth of this important port, and Pendennis Castle was strengthened and added to several times over the centuries.
Crab Quay, just north of the blockhouse, was the best landing place on the headland, and there were guns here by 1700. The two concrete positions visible today were built in 1902 for quick-firing guns used against fast torpedo boats and modified during the Second World War, when they saw considerable action.

  1. Once you have explored the features around Pendennis Point, return to the Coast Path, which now follows a path through woodland before coming out on the road above Falmouth Docks.

In May 1858, a public meeting was held in Falmouth Town Hall, during which it was announced that it had become essential to provide increased accommodation at the port for the loading, unloading, building and repair of the ships visiting the port, the second most important in the British Empire. In the previous nine years, the townspeople were told, 16,078 vessels with a combined registered tonnage of over 4 million had arrived at the port, excluding coasting vessels, which in themselves were estimated at over a million tons.
A committee was appointed to survey the harbour and prepare plans and estimates for dry docks, slips, wharfage and storage accommodation. In November of the same year another public meeting was held to report back on the findings, and in April 1859, an Act of Parliament was passed and royal assent received for the formation of the Falmouth Docks and Engineering Company, charged with the construction of Falmouth Docks.
Between 1860 and 1867, the western wharf and the eastern breakwater were constructed, with the dry dock and gridiron wharf being opened in 1863. The Great Western Railway arrived this year, too, with a line running from Falmouth to Truro, which increased the flow of trade through the harbour. Shipbuilding began in 1878, and during the early to mid twentieth century further wharves were built, while Dry Dock Number Two was enlarged in 1958, being opened by HRH Prince Philip and renamed the Queen Elizabeth Dock.
There is a viewpoint on the pavement above the docks, and a toposcope indicating the layout of the dry docks, wharves and workshops which are spread out below.

  1. Carry on along Castle Drive, past the docks, until you come to the T-junction.

Turn right here, continuing across the roundabout and under the railway bridge. (There is no access to the seafront here, as the marina area is privately owned).

Continue ahead on Bar Road as it curves inland and then sweeps to the right to continue in the original direction.

Keep going forward as it becomes Avenue Road and heads towards the National Maritime Museum(open daily throughout the year), Discovery Quay and the Stay Café for well earned refreshments.

Public transport

Western Greyhound Bus number 500 travels frequently from Truro via Falmouth to Helford Passage, stopping at Swanpool Beach. For details visit www.travelinesw.com or phone 0871 200 22 33

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