No stay is complete in Falmouth without a walk out to Pendennis Head. This enjoyable and easy walk from The Captain’s House to Pendennis Head, and then on round to Gyllyngvase beach, offers stunning views across the Fal Estuary and Carrick Roads and gives you a fantastic feel for the history of Falmouth.
Now a bustling event-lead town with an internationally renowned dockyard, sandy beaches and beautiful coastal walks, back in time it was the harbour and Carrick Roads that first put Falmouth on the map as it is the third largest natural harbour in the world.
In 1598 when Sir Walter Raleigh was staying with the Killigrew family at Arwenack house, he recognised the superb geographic features and recommended that the site be developed as a port. Later in 1613 Sir John Killigrew created the town of Falmouth (you can see Arwenack House, the oldest building in Falmouth, across the road from the Maritime Museum).
Start your walk by turning left out of The Captain’s House and head down Grovehill Crescent, on to Arwenack Avenue and then on to Bar Road.
At the roundabout as you walk across to Castle Hill you can see down to Falmouth Docks Train station. In 1688 Falmouth was appointed as the Royal Mail packet station. Small ships were used to carry mail and messages to all corners of the Empire and after travelling across the world they would head up to London and across the UK by train.
Walk up Pendennis Rise and take time to stop and look down on the dockyards, which were first developed in 1858. They are now a thriving business and one of the largest ship repair complexes in the UK. The Pendennis shipyard works on some of the world’s largest super yachts.
The name Pendennis comes from the Cornish words ‘Pen’ meaning ‘end’ and ‘dinas’ meaning fortress. There was probably a fort here in the Iron Age and the area has been used in different ways to defend England through time – from the times of Romans and Vikings to the Second World War. If you take the path from Castle Drive down to the coast you can find remains of a blockhouse built to house artillery. In the Second World War an anti-submarine net was laid across from Pendennis Head to St Mawes to prevent enemies entering the harbour.
Pendennis Castle is one of Henry VIII’s finest fortresses built to defend Cornwall from the French and Spanish and to protect the entrance to the River Fal and its deep estuary. It is a partner castle to the one across the bay on the east bank in St Mawes, also built in Tudor times. Pendennis castle was also one of the last loyalists strongholds to fall in the English Civil War with the future Charles II hiding out here before sailing across to the Scilly Isles.
Walk out beyond the car park on Pendennis head and enjoy the stunning view east and west along the Cornish coast. This vast panorama just takes your breath away whatever the weather.
Then enjoy the stroll along the coast down Castle Drive and Cliff Road to Gyllyngvase beach. If you haven’t already been tempted by an ice cream from the van that waits on Pendennis Head, then pop into Gylly Beach Café for some refreshment as well as a superb view of this popular sandy beach.
Then it is only a short walk back to The Captain’s House – head up Gyllyngvase Hill, then turn left at the top on Melvill Road, walk across the railway bridge and turn right into Fox’s Lane. Follow Fox’s Lane which winds it’s way up to Woodlane and by crossing the road you are back at 2 Wodehouse Terrace and home!