We decided to head to Cornwall’s most popular visitor destination, the Fal River in the West Country of the UK for its annual celebration of life on the river. Here, we spent the week touring the river and sampling some of the delights that the area has to offer.
The South Coast of England is blessed with more than its fair share of stunning locations. The rolling South Downs and the South Downs Way, The Jurassic Coast through Dorset and the rolling hills of Somerset are all incredibly beautiful and draw crowds, year in and year out, who travel to marvel at the spectacle of the Great British coastline.
It is my personal opinion, though, that the real Jewel in the crown can’t be witnessed until you travel further West and into the depths of Cornwall and, in particular, one of my favourite places on earth; Falmouth.
Everyone has their own favourite part of Cornwall, usually dictated by family summer holidays and nostalgic memories of tatty camping sites and long salty days on the vast sandy beaches. The location itself is reminiscent of much farther flung destinations; squint your eyes on a good day and you could be sitting on a beach in the Costa Blanca. Open them and there’s just enough British essence; fish and chips, lilos, sandcastles and deckchairs to remind you of where you are.
There’s a palpable shift of pace that becomes apparent as you head into Cornwall; the A30 seems to invite you into the county via the rolling countryside and dramatic landscape and on a good day, when the traffic allows, the highway offers you the sensation of gliding through the terrain with the promise of a slower pace waiting to greet you once you arrive.
That’s the romantic description of the journal into the Cornish countryside, although some might argue that the stretch from Exeter to Falmouth is a real slog, and all too often (roughly) 100 miles of hell. This all depends, of course, upon what time of day or night, or indeed the time of year you choose to travel.
I have been the victim of coastal journeys as an unwilling customer of National Express coaches during the summer holiday traffic, where the journey from Brighton to Falmouth could take anywhere upwards of 12 hours.
Regardless of this, it’s a place that I’ve been fascinated by since I was a relatively small boy, and it’s a fascination that stays with me to this day.
The River Fal Festival has been a regular feature for the town, with 2016 offering up a 7-day long, packed schedule of activities for the 11th year running.
The festival, brilliantly organised by Fal River Cornwall and supported by a whole host of local companies, such as principle sponsor, Falmouth University, Skinners Brewery, (sadly no relation), Enterprise Leisure boats and the King Harry ferry. The event is a true celebration of life around the river.
The programme for 2016 included a staggering 150 events ranging from cinema on the water with the King Harry Ferry, lots of open studios, a circus camp and a whole host of engaging events at the National Maritime Museum.