Pendennis Castle and Falmouth.

Saturday 19 December 2015 – Falmouth, Cornwall.

It was a really windy night, and it is now a really windy morning. The wind was howling around the hotel making things whistle and creak all night long. The weather is pretty lousy this morning too, rain is forecasted for most of the day and with 30mh winds blowing in off the sea I don’t think I will be doing too much coastal walking. But there is a castle, or two to visit – so not all bad !

After a very nice, and not too large Cornish breakfast I got myself organised and was out the door for 10:00, opening time for Pendennis Castle. My hotel is one street back from the beach and wow, the wind was so strong! It wasn’t raining when I left so I made the most of the time and took a couple of photos of the sea before power walking up to the distant castle.

The Lerryn Hotel, where I am staying, I have the near balcony room, but the view has been pretty much entirely grey since I have been here.

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At the top of the hill I took a detour around the back of the castle to see if there was a view over the wall, which there wasn’t, but there were a couple of trees just begging to have their photo taken so I happily obliged. I love trees without leaves, most of the trees in and around Auckland are evergreen, so I am just not used to seeing so many naked trees. Such a clear marker of seasons changing.

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As I discovered last night on my stroll in the dark, there is a decent, though empty moat, and high walls separating me from the castle.

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Once across the moat and through the entrance I decided to do something I should have done about five castles ago – I joined English Heritage for a year, hopefully this will not mean I stop visiting English Heritage run castles now I have paid the fee. I am planning on doing two today, so a decent start.

Like St Mawes Castle, a sister castle on the far bank of the Fal River, Pendennis Castle is a Henrician castle built under Henry VIII between 1540 and 1545 to protect the river from a perceived threat by both the French and the Spanish. I was surprised to learn today that the harbour at the entrance to the River Fal is the third deepest harbour in the world, after Sydney and Rio. This made it very attractive as a naval base, though it was never really used as one at all. The castle is one of a string of castles built across the south coast after Henry decided to annoy the French and Spanish when he rejected the Catholic church.

The castle was expanded during Elizabethan times with the majority of the outer buildings and the high walls being added then. As an artillery fort the site was continued to be modified up to and just after the end of the Second World War as new artillery technology was developed. The fort was abandoned by the military in 1956. A story I heard while I was there was the that most damage done to the fort since a siege during the English Civil War was caused by the MOD in the 60s when they destroyed a temporary barracks building by blowing it up – and cracking the walls of other buildings in the process.

As it wasn’t raining once I was on site, I decided to follow my usual tactic of walking around the perimeter, looking at the views and checking out the outside of the tower.

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I headed down toward the WW2 observation post and had a look at the window.

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I tried to find my way to the WW2 gun emplacements below, but my efforts seemed quite fruitless as all the paths were gated off – reading the map was going be a last resort obviously. I eventually came across a tunnel… I so love a tunnel.

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This led the way under some earthen defences to the gun emplacements. There was a small group having a tour while I was there so I tagged along and listened in. Turns out the group were the only other visitors on this miserable day – and they were Kiwis too. The wind was really howling on the point, the whistling as the wind passed through the mast was incredible.

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I walked around the grounds a little bit more, before finally entering the Henrician artillery tower as the rain arrived again. I liked the gargoyles, sadly I got rain on my lens, but I have decided to keep the photo anyway.

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The inside of the artillery keep was decked out like it was in the 1700’s, including a very loud soundtrack that kicks in when you walk in the door – a bit of a surprise.

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The roof was locked off but I was told I could go up there if I re-barred the door once I was back inside, I could see why once i was on the narrow steep, circular stairs to the roof, they were quite wet and slippery. I met one of the Kiwis on the stairs and we took it in turns to go out on the roof and have a quick look around, while the other held the door closed in the ferocious wind.

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Down from the roof I headed over to the more recent barracks block – only a hundred or so years old and had a coffee and piece of cake for a late morning tea, and that was pretty much my last act in the grounds and I left the castle soon after.

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I decided to replicate the walk I did round the moat last night.

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And then headed down to the sea front to visit Little Dennis, a small coastal blockhouse. The wind was so strong here, I was struggling to stand still to take photos. It is right on the tip of the point with wonderful views across a blustery sea to St Mawes.

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This ice cream seller was very keen, surprisingly I saw a couple with ice creams as I walked up from Little Dennis, so I suppose his efforts paid off. Good on him, it was not nice out there, but at least it was not cold…

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I took the coast path around the point rather than walk on the roads like last night.

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There were a couple of guys living in tents on the edge of the forest, they must be facing very tough times to choose to be in a tent with wind like this. The coast path was pretty greasy, but so much nicer than walking on the road.

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Soon enough I was back in civilisation, I walked past the ship yards that caught me so much by surprise last night, it was raining pretty hard by now and this was the last photo I took before hiding my camera away in my back pack – and putting a rain cover on the pack as well.

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It was a short, but wet and not particularly lovely walk into the waterfront area of Falmouth. Money has been spent in the area nearest the port, with new restaurants and bars including a Pizza Express which I am pondering for tonight, I do love pizza and there is something special about the anonymousness of a chain restaurant when you are a solo eater. There is a Rick Stein’s fish restaurant but it looks too stale for my tastes, though I am sure it is lovely, pricey too I bet. By the time I had passed round the back of the new buildings the rain had passed and I could ditch the rain cover and get my camera out again. I sort of liked the waterfront, it is big yachting harbour, so slightly reminiscent of Auckland and other yachty places.

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Falmouth has allowed itself to be taken over by tourism, as I was walking down the hill from the castle I passed a new waterside development of ‘exclusive’ apartments and a lot of the old buildings in town have become shops or tacky bars and eating places. Who ever thought that the old harbour master building would make a good Mexican cafe and hairdresser was badly misinformed/taking a kick back or something. I understand that towns need to keep relevant and make money, but sometimes selling your soul is not worth the price.

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Having said that, so far I kind of like Falmouth, but it has not made the most of its waterfront, unless you count car parking as a value add. All the small wharf areas are full of cars, I have tried to miss them when as I have taken photos, but they are there.

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I was planning on taking a ferry over to St Mawes to visit the sister castle to Pendennis, but due to the really strong wind the ferry was cancelled for the day.

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Time for a new plan, it was only afternoon and I had pretty much seen all of Falmouth’s waterfront area. I headed up to the art gallery for a quick peak. Nice building, some interesting local art as well.

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That was pretty much my day, it was definitely my day photographically. I went back to the hotel and uploaded and edited photos, watched some football and had a rest before heading out for an early meal. Back in time for the final two episodes of The Bridge season 3.

A nice time so far in Falmouth.

This new laptop I am using is Windows 10 based. So far I am really liking it, a far better experience than I expected –  except the version of Windows Live Writer I have been using to write and manage blogs screws with images uploaded to WordPress. Boo Hiss !!! I hate writing blogs in Wordress, time to find a new writing tool. So far I have loved and lost Blogpress and now Live Writer, hopefully the next tool find is as good and lasts longer….

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
This entry was posted in Blog, Britain, England and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pendennis Castle and Falmouth.

  1. restlessjo says:

    Have a good Christmas, whatever the weather 🙂

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