Saturday, 13th June 2015
Well, as it was forecast to be wet and windy we decided to go for a quick walk along the coast path around Falmouth and then pop into town for lunch. Wrong on all counts!
It was neither wet, nor windy! It was dry and warm and sunny.
It was not a quick walk – it was 7 miles there and back!
‘Popping’ into Falmouth was not going to happen – as we’d forgotten the International Sea Shanty Festival – Falmouth was heaving with people, all enjoying the unexpected sunshine and some very Cornish music. We sauntered along amongst them and ate our sandwich in the lovely Beerwolf Bookshop/Pub before heading back to the car.
8.5 miles walked! No wonder I need a sit down.
Gyllingvase Beach to Maenporth Beach linear walk plus a walk into Falmouth via Princess Pavillion (8.5 miles)
I’m not a great fan of linear walks. There’s something off putting about coming back the same way that you went. It doesn’t feel right somehow, but a quick search before leaving failed to locate a relevant circular stroll so linear it was. Still, it’s a while since we’ve been on this part of the coast path and, as gales are forecast, we’re reluctant to venture further afield. We start from the road up to Pendennis Point and head down to Gyllingvase Beach and towards the coast path. We detour briefly to have a look at the Queen Mary Gardens, directly behind the beach. They were opened in 1912 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Mary, wife of George V. They are beautiful sub-tropical gardens full of gunnera, agapanthus and echium.
Moving on along the South West Coast Path towards Swanpool Beach, we can see large container ships in the bay and lots of sailing boats heading out of Falmouth on the calm water. Also a lone gannet diving for his lunch:
It’s only a few minutes around the corner to Swanpool and we take an inland diversion to see what’s about on the Nature Reserve.
Lots of ducks and gulls, some cormorants and coots with chicks – charming…
See the patch of bare white skin on the front of the adult head? This is called a ‘frontal shield’ and explains the age-old expression ‘as bald as a coot’! It actually is there to make them look more aggressive when they hold their heads forward, low in the water, with their black feathers ruffed up, as they defend their territory.
The correct term for a group of coots is ‘a commotion’, and this is what they make when they argue – harsh unmusical cries, like a hammer striking a sheet of metal.
The chicks are very cute – their heads are brightly coloured and bare at birth. The adults feed them for about 30 days, so these are not very old at all. Look at the feet on those chicks though! They are enormous aren’t they?
The lake is part of the Swanpool Local Nature Reserve and was once part of the sea before it was cut off by a shingle bar in the last Ice Age. In 1826 a culvert was dug across the bar, releasing some of the water into the sea. When tides are high the sea level rises above the lake and salt water flows back into the lake – therefore the lake is described as ‘brackish’ – a mix of salt and fresh water. (Lots of information on their website: http://www.swanpool.org.uk).
Having circumnavigated the lake we take the road up the hill and continue along the coast path towards Maenporth. A kestrel follows us along the way, hovering every now and then in his hunt for a snack. Mr RR manages to get a picture:
The path along here is lined with foxgloves, bramble, red campion and wild honeysuckle. We watch some swallows swooping and diving over a meadow and try to catch a picture of a warbler perched on a branch on the cliff top – but no luck. It was a Cetti’s Warbler, a secretive bird with a loud powerful song which we can hear all along the route. (If you’re watching Springwatch you’ll be able to see these little birds nesting).
We eventually arrive into Maenporth and stop for a cuppa at the little Maenporth Beach Cafe before heading back the way we came. On the way we spot this little fellow on the path:
Any ideas? Looks like a beetle of some kind doesn’t it?
Well, we think its a ladybird pupa – probably a seven spot ladybird. The ladybird’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. This one’s in the third stage which lasts up to two weeks while the ladybird goes through a metamorphosis and emerges as a full grown adult.
We also pass this interesting memorial to the men of the Number 1 Falmouth Home Guard who walked this path every night during the second world war:
This seat and the path leading hereto have been provided as a memorial to the men of the Number 1 Company of the Home Guard who during 1940, 41, 42, 43, 44 after their day’s work, nightly patrolled this coast armed and vigilant against German landings.
Thus they watched 1000 dawns appear across these great waters which form our country’s moat.
We walk on back across Swanpool Beach, past the row of beach huts all named after fish:
and round the corner to Gyllingvase.
From here we walk through the newly replanted Princess Pavillion Gardens with its refreshed and refurbished cafe and down the hill into Falmouth Town Centre. It’s busy here! The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival is in full swing( http://www.falmouthseashanty.co.uk ) – we hurry along to M&S though and buy sandwiches to eat at Beerwolf Books (www.beerwolfbooks.com) where its relatively peaceful, before threading our way through the crowds and past the singing sailors back to the car.
(Total miles walked this year 412.5)
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Mr RR: