Beautiful Truro, stunning St Ives and fabulous Falmouth - three great days out in west Cornwall

Porthtowan is perfectly placed for visiting the best of what Cornwall has to offer.  In our next few blogs, we'll be highlighting our favourite days out in west Cornwall within a short drive of the village.  Here we focus on the beautiful cathedral city of Truro and the gorgeous seaside towns of St Ives and Falmouth.

 

Truro...

Truro is less than half an hour from Porthtowan and makes a lovely day or half day out. It is Cornwall's only city and is our favourite place for shopping, with it's eclectic mix of independent shops and quality local and national chains in it's quirky town centre.  We particularly love Seasalt for beautiful, Cornish-made ethical clothing, and a bite to eat and drink in Mannings bar/restaurant always goes down well after a hard day's shopping.  Truro's beautiful cathedral is a spectacular backdrop to the city  and is well worth a wander round, as by all accounts is the Royal Cornwall Museum, with great Cornwall themed hands on displays and activities for the family.  If you fancy a bit of theatre, the Hall for Cornwall offers performances year round for all tastes, from west end shows to music, dance and great kids shows. Over the years we have enjoyed many of them, including the fabulous Chicago and a great acoustic set from Suzanne Vega (Ghost the Musical is on in Jan 2017, which also sounds fab). You can also take in a film at the historic Plaza independent cinema - we like to follow this with a trip to Pizza Express, set in the historic old coinage hall, for a nice easy tea and a treat for the children. The city also lays on plenty of seasonal events – the lovely City of Lights parade and regular farmers markets are favourites and there are many other events around the city throughout the year. You can even take a boat ride down the Fal river to lovely Trelissick gardens or even all the way to Falmouth – a fantastic way to while away an afternoon.

 

St Ives...

We also absolutely love St Ives for a great day out.  It is close to Porthtowan and is well known for it's enviable location surrounded by water, which gives it a beautiful clarity of light and spectacular views.  If you are into your art a visit to Tate St Ives is a must - the Barbara Hepworth museum and sculpture garden is fab and the gallery offers many other interesting and beautiful exhibitions throughout the year.   St Ives also offers some amazing beaches - Porthmeor is to the west and offers great surf, the small sheltered bay of Porthgwidden has a small but lovely cafe and is backed by beach huts, and the calm and beautiful family beach at Porthminster is a favourite of ours, backed by the wonderful Porthminster Cafe.  Then there is of course the picturesque working harbour, fronted by a range of cafes, restaurants and galleries, which we love to stroll around, perhaps enjoying an ice cream along the way (watch out for the seagulls!), especially out of season when it is a bit quieter.  You can take a boat trip from here to Seal Island, 6 km west of St Ives, to watch the seals frolic in the waves and sunbathe on the rocks, or go mackeral or wreck fishing if you prefer.  We also love 'downalong', a maze of narrow cobbled streets and fisherman’s cottages behind the harbour that is the heart of old St Ives, and like to wander through the town centre, which is packed with small independent shops and galleries offering a wide range of unusual and beautiful items.  The town puts on a number of events throughout the year, including the St Ives September Festival, literary festival and food and drink festival, as well as Feast Day in February and the well known New Year's Eve spectacular, when the whole town turns out in fancy dress and there are fireworks over the harbour.  Whenever you come, you are bound to find something to suit you in this wonderful town.

 

Falmouth...

We first discovered Falmouth in Spring 2016, when I booked a weekend walking the wonderful South West Coast Path using the seaside town as a base.  I loved it so much that I immediately booked for the family to return during Falmouth week in August.  The town has something for everyone and has a lovely low key, gentle feel, despite the fact that there is so much to see and do.  The seafront is a wide, sweeping arc, with wonderful, wide open sea views and some fab family beaches.  Gyllingvase is our favourite, a safe family beach great for swimming, and the Gylly Beach Cafe offers wonderful local food and amazing views.  Castle beach is great for rockpooling and Swanpool, a short walk to the west, offers sparkling waters, kayaking and other watersports and a great cafe.  We really enjoyed a wander along the seafront towards Pendennis headland and castle, which again offers fantastic views both out to sea and towards the Fal estuary and the lovely village of St Mawes across the water, and the children were ecstatic to discover rope swings, rocky caves and little paths through the woodland which covers the headland.  Falmouth is rich in maritime history and we visited the National Maritime Museum twice it was so good (our tickets included free re-entry for a year), with fascinating displays of interest to adults and children alike, and great hands on activities for the children including the chance to jump on a jet ski and into an enclosed life raft, which they loved.  The jewel in the crown of our visit was the exhilarating boat trips - from Famouth you can take a river cruise, go wildlife watching or take or a ferry to a number of destinations including lovely St Mawes, Trelissick Gardens or Truro.  Falmouth is about half an hour from Porthtowan and is thoroughly recommended for a fab day out.

For more information, see www.enjoytruro.co.uk, www.visitstives.org.uk and www.falmouth.co.uk

Photo credits - Tony Atkins, Simon Lewis and David Stowell