Walk - Falmouth Docks Station - Town Walk

2.0 miles (3.2 km)

Falmouth Docks Station - TR11 4LT Falmouth Docks Station

Easy -

An easy stroll with just one hill to be climbed, this walk takes you from the bustle of the world's third deepest natural harbour to the tranquil nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest over the hill in Swanvale. Here, in a unique lagoon slumbering at the mouth of a wetland brimming with wildlife, Britain's only Trembling Sea Mat flourishes beneath waters inhabited by dozens of waterbirds and wildfowl, including swans and moorhens.

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

Falmouth Lodge is a simple home with two rooms available for short stays. You are welcome to prepare your own breakfast in our kitchen

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.

Tresooth Cottages

16 Cornish stone cottages with pool, sauna & hot tubs

Budock Vean Hotel

On a quiet bend of the Helford River, you will find the award winning 4 star Budock Vean Hotel. 49 hotel rooms, contemporary holiday homes and self catering cottages.

Trevarn B&B

Comfortable B&B. Convenient to Coast Path and excellent village amenities. A warm welcome awaits.

Cornwall Plus - Penryn Campus

Affordable University Rooms, Simple, economy, campus summer accommodation for groups, couples and individual travellers in the heart of Cornwall. On-site bus stops.

Come-to-Good Farm

Luxury shepherd's hut, campsite and ensuite barn available to rent on our idyllic sheep farm in between Truro and Falmouth. Pub within walking distance.

On the Helford River B&B

Comfortable, stylish accommodation close to the Path with beautiful views & garden, breakfast and nearby local pub.. Email [email protected]

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Flapjackery Falmouth

Stop off and treat yourself or stock up for your trip along the Path with these delicious, award winning, gluten free flapjacks in a variety of flavours.

The Boathouse

Licenced cafe in the centre of Portscatho, serving locally sourced home cooked food.

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.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Nestled by Falmouth’s deep-water harbour discover National Maritime Museum Cornwall. Across 15 galleries, explore the overwhelming influence of the sea on our history and culture.

Fal River Visitor Information Centre

Find all the information you need to enjoy the beautiful Fal river section of the SW Coast Path and buy boat tickets tickets t

Glendurgan Garden, National Trust

Stroll down through the peaceful, exotic and playful valley to a sheltered beach at the bottom. This distinctive garden was created by Alfred and Sarah Fox in the 1820s.

Koru Kayaking - Helford River and creeks

2 hour Stunning Guided Kayak and Paddleboard Adventures along the Helford River and Frenchman's Creek from the Budock Vean Hotel foreshore. All equipment provided.

Helford River Boats

Cross Helford Passage on this 1,000 year old ferry trip. Boat/Kayak hire also available..

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. 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.
  2. 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).

  1. Cross the main road and carry straight on ahead along Pennance Road, turning right at the crossroads after the railway bridge.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Turn right and go under the railway bridge to carry on up Penmere Hill to Tregenver Road, coming out  opposite the rugby ground.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.

Public transport

Click here for train times and tickets to and from Falmouth.


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