After leaving the peaceful surrounds of Trewince Manor the route takes you almost to the end of the Roseland Peninsula, to Place. Before alighting onto the ferry look back at the splendour of Place House, once a Priory of which St Anthony’s Church is all that remains. At St Mawes where you change ferries take a moment to visualise this in days gone by, a busy port, fishing harbour and a hangout for pirates and smugglers. The castle at the edge of the town was built by Henry VIII as part of the defences against French or Spanish invasion, Pendennis Castle at Falmouth was built at the same time, but unfortunately is not in such good condition.
The ferry crosses Carrick Roads which, with the estuaries, forms the third largest natural harbour in the world. Formed at the end of the last Ice Age by river valleys being flooded with the rising sea levels it extends 18 km, is 1.5 km wide at the mouth and 34 metres deep.
There has been a settlement at Falmouth for centuries, but it began its rise to fame when Henry VIII built the castles at Pendennis and St Mawes after he split from the Roman Catholic Church. It became a town 120 years later when Charles II granted it a charter. As the British Empire began to expand Falmouth became a hugely important centre of communication as the base for the Royal Mail Packet system. This was where communication from the various colonies would land at Falmouth and then be taken by stage coach to London. With the introduction of steam ships that were quicker and safer this allowed these communications to be taken directly to London. The docks were developed at this time and remain and important part of the town infrastructure.
As you get to the far side of Falmouth town the Swan Pool is reached, this nature reserve is saline lagoon separated from the sea by a shingle bar over which the road passes. A little way out of Falmouth you will pass Penjerrick Gardens, this ‘semi-tropical jungle’ was started in the early 19th Century when Robert Were Fox purchased the site. He was geologist, natural philosopher and mining expert. Development of the site and plants and shrubs within was subsequently taken on by Robert’s son Barclay. It is now stocked with plants such as Rhododendrons, Magnolia, Ferns and Gunnera.
The pretty village of Mawnan Smith, is believed to have its name as there were once four blacksmiths operating in the village. Presumably due to its location on a busy crossroads. The 15th Century church overlooks the mouth of the Helford River and was used by sailors as a useful landmark. During the Second World War it was also used as an observation post.
Glendurgan Gardens and nearby Trebah Gardens are both a pleasure to wander around. They were both developed in the 1800’s by different members of the same Fox family and take great advantage of the semi-tropical climate. The beach at Trebah was used by 7,500 US infantry troops embarking for Omaha in the Normandy Landings.
The Helford estuary is probably one of the most beautiful in Cornwall and worthy of a visit. Daphne Du Maurier immortalised the place as the setting for her novel Frenchman’s Creek. Despite the sleepy appearance Helford was once an important port trading in French rum, tobacco and lace. As with most places in this part of Cornwall there were also pirates and smugglers. It was also the place where many Cornish family’s left the country to seek their fortune elsewhere after the collapse of the local mining industry.
Leaving the river behind you now enter the Meneage area. This is an old Cornish term meaning Monks Land and was in use before the Norman Invasion of 1066. The area is dotted with ancient settlements dating back to Bronze Age.
Although not visited on this route the village of Manaccan is renowned for several reasons: In 1690 the local Vicar discovered a form of Titanium that has rightly been called Manachanite; When Captain Bligh, Mutiny on the Bounty, was sent by the Admiralty to survey the area, locals had him arrested as they believed he was a French spy; Finally, Legend has it that a large Puma like cat, the Manaccan Beast lives in this area!
It is as you pass Manaccan that you will be pleased to note that the deeply undulating landscape previously encountered becomes more of a plateau will gentle slopes. This due to the geology being slightly different for this area, as you will see as you pass through Goonhilly National Nature Reserve. This is an area of Heathland populated by acid loving plants usually associated with chalk or limestone area, here it is due to a rock called Serpentine due to it appearing like snake skin. This can be purchased in the village at Lizard where it is still polished locally. There is open access on the reserve to enjoy the abundant flora and fauna it has to offer alongside the historical settlements, burial chambers and a standing stone that dates back approximately 3,500 years.
Overlooking all of this is the Goonhilly Earth Station, where the first trans-Atlantic TV transmissions were received. Today it is still pushing the boundaries of space communication. Unfortunately the Visitor Centre is not currently open to the public.
As you get closer the Lizard Point there are many diversions to small coves and cliffs that are well worth spending time to visit as we the main attraction which lies naturally at the very end of the road.
Ferry Details –
For the Place to St Mawes crossing care will be needed to board the ferry in most tidal conditions, but especially during low tide. There is a small charge for cycles on this small boat and due to the size of vessel, they are only able to accommodate one or two bikes per trip. Check their website for further details www.falriver.co.uk/getting-about/ferries/place-ferry or call 01326 741194.
For St Mawes to Falmouth this are a little easier as the ferry is much larger and there is no charge on these boats for bikes. However, should you be going in a large party please contact them first to ensure they can assist with loading and unloading. Panniers may need to be removed for the crossing to allow secure storage. Check their website for further details www.falriver.co.uk/getting-about/ferries/st-mawes-ferry or call 01326741194
The Helford River ferry, which has run since the Middle Ages, now only runs from 1st April through to 31st October. There is a small charge for cycles on this small boat and due to the size of the vessel it can only accommodate one or two bikes per trip. Check their website for further details www. http://helford-river-boats.co.uk/theferry or call 01326 250770.
Basic Equipment for Bike Riding
- Cycling helmet
- Cycling gloves
- Sturdy, comfortable and preferably waterproof footwear
- Layered, moisture wicking clothing
- Rucksack (with rain cover)
- Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket)
- Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
- Cell phone
- Navigation equipment / map and compass
Technical Equipment for Bike Riding
- Air pump or CO2 pump including cartridges
- Puncture repair kit
- Replacement inner tube
- Tire levers
- Chain tool
- Hex keys
- Phone / device holder as required
- Bike lock as required
- Where applicable, the bike must meet requirements for road use by having a bell, front and rear lamps and spoke reflectors
- The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
- For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
- Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.