A town walk through the busy port reveals a fascinating slice of Cornwall's maritime history.
Distance 3 miles (4.8km)
Minimum time 4hrs
Ascent/gradient 197ft (60m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Surfaced walkways and paths throughout. Very steep steps descent at end of walk
Landscape Townscape and seafront
Suggested map Falmouth Town Map
Start/finish SW 805327
Dog friendliness Dog fouling of streets is prohibited
Parking Quarry Car Park, Quarry Hill. Hornworks Car Park, Pendennis Castle
Public toilets Webber Street, Prince of Wales Quay, North Quay Arwenack Street, Cliff Road
1 The walk starts from the Moor, once a tidal creek and now a rather traffic-bound focal point of the town's busy commercial life. Walk down Killigrew Street on the south side of the Moor, then cross High Street onto the Prince of Wales Quay from where you get a long view of Falmouth's waterfront.
2 Return from the Quay and turn left into Market Street, the first of Falmouth's linked main thoroughfares. Market Street merges with Church Street, which in turn merges with Arwenack Street at the handsome Church of St Charles the Martyr. All the way along these busy, shop-lined streets you can divert left to the waterfront quays of Fish House Quay by the Grapes Inn, Upton Slip in Church Street, where you find the colourful figurehead of an old ship, the Amazon, and Custom House Quay, reached from Arwenack Street. Here you find a tall red-brick chimney stack, the King's Pipe, once used to burn smuggled tobacco confiscated by excisemen.
3 From the end of Arwenack Street continue along Grove Place and Bar Road, passing the well-preserved medieval manor house of Arwenack on the right. Opposite Arwenack is an ugly granite obelisk of the late 18th century. Cross over at a junction with Avenue Road, then, opposite the entrance to Falmouth Docks, bear right and go under a railway bridge. Cross, with care, at a roundabout, then continue up the road opposite, signposted 'Pendennis Castle'. Keep right at the top of the rise and go along Castle Drive, then turn right into Cliff Road.
4 Pass above the south-facing Castle Beach and Tunnel Beach, into 'seaside resort' Falmouth. On the inland side of the road stands a line of handsome hotels. Reach an eerie well-staircase that leads down to a tunnel and a viewpoint. At road level ahead is a little Gothic folly. Cross Cliff Road, just before the folly, and with care, and go up the left hand walkway of Gyllyngdune Gardens.
5 Go down right, where the walkway forks, and pass through a little sunken garden, then continue up the other side past two shell grottoes, to reach a gate into the marvellous garden patio of the Princess Pavilion.
6 Leave by the opposite corner and pass by the theatre box office, going left, then right, then left again and out of the Pavilion gates. Turn down right to a T-junction with Melvill Road. Cross the road diagonally right and go down some steps, then turn right along Avenue Road.
7 Follow the road downhill and go beneath a railway bridge, then turn left along the central, tree-lined parade of Arwenack Avenue. Walk between the flanking pillars at the end of the avenue, cross the street and keep ahead along Gyllyng Street to its end. Keep up to the left by a telephone kiosk and then continue along Vernon Place. Bear round to the left by the Jacob's Ladder pub, then, just opposite the pub, turn right, brace yourself, and descend carefully back to the Moor down Jacob's Ladder. The 111 steps were built here by a local merchant, Jacob Hamblyn, in the 19th century as a more convenient link between his house and workshop.
Modern Falmouth still belongs to the waterfront that created it. A succession of quays protrudes, at intervals, along nearly 1½ miles (2.4km) of waterfront and, in the shelter of Pendennis Point, lie substantial dockyards. On the crown of the Point, Pendennis Castle survives as one of the finest examples of Tudor fortifications in Britain. On Falmouth's southern shore lie palatial hotels, ornamental gardens and parades. Everything about Falmouth reflects the sea and seagoing and this walk takes in most facets of that great maritime heritage.
Visit the Falmouth Maritime Museum in Bell's Court off Market Street. (Open November-April 16, 10-3; April 17- October, 10-4). You can also add a visit to Pendennis Castle to the walk by going left along Castle Drive (Pendennis Rise). Keep to the left-hand side and you have dramatic views down into the dry docks where sizeable ships are often under repair. Keep ahead from above the docks to reach a walkway from the entrance to the Ships and Castles Leisure Pool, signposted 'Public Footpath', that leads to the Hornworks car park by Pendennis Castle. From the far end of the car park follow signs along a walkway to reach the entrance to the castle. To rejoin the main walk go down the wide drive from the castle entrance to a junction with Castle Drive, keep ahead and round left into Cliff Road.
Falmouth has plenty of food and drink outlets. All along the connecting main streets you pass traditional inns such as the Grapes, and Victory Inn in Upton Slip. You reach the end of Church Street by the Kings Head. There is a licensed café and restaurant at the Princess Pavilion and a tearoom at Pendennis Castle. The castle has picnic spots and there are lots of seats along Cliff Road and on the beach walkways below.