It’s not often that you get to study in a beautiful seaside town such as Falmouth, so for the students of University College Falmouth and Falmouth Marine School, what are the privileges of living and studying by the coast? And how do you make the most of Falmouth’s culture and history whilst doing so?
Falmouth is a civil parish and port town on the south coast of Cornwall. Recognised by its locals as a town of great history, Falmouth is also renowned as one of the UK’s premier sailing destinations and is an enticement for walkers, picnickers and families alike.
More recently, Falmouth’s population has risen in the number of young people due to being the home of two major educational institutions and now has the biggest student population in Cornwall.
University College Falmouth attracts students from all around the world, offering courses in the fields of art, design and media. Falmouth Marine School then takes advantage of its surroundings and is the only place in Cornwall that offers specialist training in boatbuilding, marine engineering, marine science, leisure and water sports.
Ala Mallinder, Watersports student at the Marine School, says, “Living by the coast offers so many opportunities to those of us interested in water sports. The Marine school has really helped me get to where I want to be and I don’t think I could have done that anywhere else in England.”
Although the students of Falmouth appreciate their surroundings, it’s not often that they know much about its history. Falmouth is most famous for its Harbour which is the third deepest natural harbour in the world, but it first gained its prosperity from the development of the docks in 1858 and the opening of the railway shortly after brought tourism to the town.
The Harbour and dockyard are a big part of Falmouth and have been the starting/finishing point for various around-the-world voyages – the two most well known being Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail single handed and non stop around the world in 1969, and Ellen Macarthur who became the fastest person to do it in 2007.
Hannah Kayum, Level 2 Textiles at UCF student says, “To me, the harbour is one of the best views in Falmouth. It’s a really nice place to come and sit and watch the boats when you need to clear your head.”
Another major part of Falmouth’s history is Pendennis Castle. Shortly after Falmouth was created in 1613 by Sir John Killigrew, Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle to defend the Carrick Roads. The castle, situated at the top of Pendennis Point, won the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2009, and is the starting point of one of Falmouth’s favoured coastal walking opportunities.
Pendennis Point itself is a prominent part of the Falmouth coast, offering a downhill view across the flat seafront of Gyllyngvase beach and around the headlands of Swanpool and Pennance points to Maenporth beach.
Matthew Smylie, Level 2 Journalism student at UCF says, “I feel like Pendennis Point is the only place in Falmouth that I can actually escape from all the student bullshit that goes on. It just makes you re appreciate that we live in a beautiful place and that is why I wanted to come here to study in the first place.”
Situated alongside Pendennis Point is Castle beach, the most northerly of all the Falmouth beaches. As one of the rockiest sections of Falmouth’s coast, this is a popular area for rockpooling as well as diving and snorkelling.
Castle beach then links to Gyllyngvase beach by Tunnel beach; a short walk over the rockpools or a walk along the high wall beside it when the tide is in. Robin Skinner, Watersports student at the Marine School, says, “I always come to sit here when the sun comes out. We get to live in such a peaceful environment whilst studying here, and this is where I can make the most of it.”
Gyllyngvase is the most popular beach in Falmouth with its wide arc of golden sand and alluring clear sea. Gylly Beach Cafe is an award winning restaurant built over the beach, offering a fantastic view from its terrace and locally produced food that attracts people of all ages.
Hannah Crocker, Level 2 Journalism student at UCF says, “People don’t just come to UCF because of the courses it offers, but also because of its location. As soon as the sun comes out everybody gathers on the beach, so it’s nice to be able to have a drink and bite to eat at the same time.”
A few miles from Falmouth’s main beaches, Maenporth and Swanpool beach are beautiful sandy coves perfect for sun bathing, fishing and boating. Swanpool is even better known for its water sport centre which operates all year round, offering lessons in sailing, kayaking and windsurfing.
Sam Batt, Level 2 Journalism student at UCF says, “I like the relaxed atmosphere at Swanpool; it always seems a lot calmer than Gylly and the walk over to it is really relaxing. Every now and then there is even a wave there which is a bonus.”
From traditional seaside restaurants such as Gylly and Swanpool Café, Falmouth’s surplus of places to eat and drink has been a key factor in putting Cornwall on the culinary map, ranging of a variety of surroundings from trendy waterfront pubs to quirky bars full of graffiti.
With a selection of night clubs for students to end up in, it is these small, unique bars that attract the most attention, hosting some of the best student environments and music events around town.
Mikie Daniel, Level 1 Advertising student at UCF says, “Chain Locker is personally my favourite pub in Falmouth. It’s so nice to be able to have a pint with your friends whilst sitting outside with a view across the harbour.”
As well as being such a beautiful destination, Falmouth is also at the forefront of the region’s marine and artistic excellence. The multi-award winning National Maritime Museum, which opened in March 2003, celebrates the sea, boats and Cornwall and its 15 galleries illustrate the past, present and future of its nation.
The artistic aspect of Falmouth is another important part of Cornwall’s heritage. With many galleries situated around the town itself, UCF also helps to ensure that Falmouth remains the creative centre of Cornwall.
Not only is Falmouth a town that adheres to everybody’s needs locally, incorporating a wide variety of cultural interests into the town, it is also a relaxing environment to live in. This in itself is a reason why people are able to study hundreds of miles away from home; Falmouth offers somewhere that everybody can find comfort in, and for some, even inspiration.