Gylly, Swanpool and Maenporth walk

Taking in three of Falmouth’s very best beaches, this walk offers some fantastic elevated views across Falmouth Bay. 

Distance: 5 miles (return) 
Difficulty: 2/5, good paths throughout. 

(Note: This walk can be extended to start at Castle Beach or Pendennis Point which will add on two miles, or shortened by a couple of miles by starting at Swanpool beach). 

This walk is a great way to take in Falmouth’s three seaside big hitters. The funky Gylly beach has a youthful and lively vibe and is always a hive of activity and life. Swanpool with its nature reserve to the rearm and Maenporth offer more serene settings backdropped by some fab scenery. We start our walk Gyllyngvase (or Gylly) Beach which has a council car park. If you take the option to extend this walk you can park for free at Pendennis Point or on Cliff Road above Castle Beach. 

The path leads across the rear of the beach with sunbathers and beach volleyball players to one side, and a lovely garden full of tropical and succulent plants to the rear. From there we head up a small slope and around the coast to a narrow path that offers lovely views across Falmouth seafront. 

Swanpool is about half a mile around the coast from Gylly, and on arrival at the beach it’s worth taking a detour over the road to check out the nature reserve. It’s an unusually geographic quirk to have a lake so close to the ocean, and despite its somewhat urban setting, Swanpool lake is a hotspot for birds including mallard, moorhen, coot, little grebe and tufted duck, as well as siskin and kingfisher. The name is probably derived from ‘swamp-pool’ but there are also swans nesting on the lake.

Exiting Swanpool we take the road up past the popular Hooked on the Rocks restaurant before jumping off the main road to continue again along the South West Coast Path towards Maenporth. The path goes through a small woods, at which point there’s another little detour of note down to the water at Stack Point which gives the best views back across Falmouth’s waterfront. 

Moving on the path takes up onto some high cliffs that look over the bay to St Mawes before dipping back down into Maenporth itself. En route, if you’re eagle-eyed you’ll spot a commemoration to those fallen in WWII. In fact this entire coastline is littered with pill boxes and gun placements as Falmouth and its harbour was prime target during the war. Maenporth itself has a couple of little quirks of note. The wonderfully named ‘Fine and Brave Lane’ commemorates the women of Mawnan who acted to protect the community, when their men were at sea and there were threats of a French invasion. Wearing red petticoats they all marched up onto the cliffs to fool the French into believing that there was a brigade of redcoats ready to defend the coast. At sea level and visible at low tide are the remains of the Scottish trawler the Ben Asdale, which went aground in a blizzard in 1978.

At Maenporth you’ll find facilities and places to eat and drink. Its a lovely spot and well worth spending some time to relax here before heading back to your start point, either on foot or by taking the public buses back to town. 

The view from Stack Point back across to Gylly and Swanpool

Trewena Cottages are the perfect base for exploring Cornwall on foot. Just 10 minutes from the centre of Falmouth and some of Cornwall’s finest hikes, you can choose from ‘Little Avalon’ our 1850s labourers cottage, or ‘The Pigsty’ our converted barn. We also have some lovely hikes right from our doorstep!