A visit to Falmouth has been on the cards since my niece started at the university there three years ago. This summer I finally made it there and was sorry I’d left it so long.
With beautiful beaches, quirky shops, a pretty harbour and an abundance of B&Bs it’s an ideal spot for a fun long weekend away. And unless you live in the South West of England a weekend of at least three nights is probably best as it can take a while to get there – a 7 hour drive from Thames Ditton on a Friday, though only 5.5 on the way back on Monday.
It’s worth the journey though and the weekend I was there even more so as Falmouth University’s degree shows were taking place. It’s the top UK uni for fine art so the standard of the shows is very high. The campus is great too as it’s a collection of buildings and houses set amongst some lovely gardens just a short walk from the seafront.
We went for the Friday evening preview where the students presented us with warm white wine in paper cups – and after a long day driving we happily accepted it. Then you get to wander round the five buildings where the fine art graduates have been given the space to showcase what they’ve learnt in their three years of study. I was very proud of my niece Amy’s installation featuring a lot of colourful duct tape and inspired by the home for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder where she’s worked part time while doing her degree.
Elsewhere in the town are some beautiful beaches. Our B&B, the very comfortable and friendly Braemar, was just a few minutes walk from Gyllyngvase beach, a great spot to catch some rays and have lunch at the trendy Gylly Beach Cafe – probably the nicest ploughmans I can remember eating. The beach sweeps around a really lovely bay that makes for a nice stroll and it also has a takeaway cafe and some surprisingly nice public toilets – see photo in the gallery!
A short and scenic walk along the cliff path is Swanpool Beach, set around a smaller bay. The beach cafe there describes itself as the home of quirky ice cream. It comes from Callestick Farm and is smothered in Cornish clotted cream and a great choice of toppings like orange or malt chocolate balls and jelly babies. There’s also a collection of lovely yellow and blue beach huts, some on the path as you walk down and some that open right onto the beach.
A couple of miles further is Maenporth with a bigger beach and close to a couple of campsites if you prefer outdoor living to a Falmouth B&B. My sister’s family and some friends took their camper vans to Tregedna Farm which had decent facilities, was very quiet and had lovely views of the nearby hills.
The town centre of Falmouth is well worth a stroll around too. It’s narrow main thoroughfare is a series of streets that run into each other and are lined with lots of interesting and unusual local shops, as well as a few well known brands including Cornish clothes store Seasalt. There’s also a much bigger Seasalt outlet shop in Penryn, a five minute drive from the town. We popped in on our way home and spent quite a bit of time and money!
On one side of that main road the side streets and alleyways lead up and away from the town centre and I mean up as there are some with pretty long and steep staircases – it’s quite a hilly place. On the other side through the gaps in the shops you can spot the blue water of Falmouth Harbour with white yachts bobbing around as well as some bigger and more industrial looking boats.
Once you’ve strolled around the shops there are plenty of places to eat with a view. We had a relaxed lunch at Lookout sitting in their garden that overlooks the harbour.
Another good place to eat is Rick Stein’s Fish, a less expensive version of his famous restaurant in Padstow. It has a takeaway attached and is in Discovery Quay where there’s a range of other places to eat and drink. Discovery Quay is also home to the National Maritime Museum and plays hosts to a variety of Falmouth’s outdoor events. Just across the street is Five Degrees West, a cool bar in a townhouse that offers a nice line in beer, wine and cocktails.
That’s just a flavour of Falmouth and there’s lots that I didn’t explore as I was there for family time as well as seeing a few sights. But I’m certain I’ll be going back as what I did see left me with a taste for more.
Click on an image below to scroll through the gallery.