Ancient Sites to Visit in Cornwall
March 19th, 2021
The breath-taking county of Cornwall has been inhabited from the early Stone Age. The early Cornish spent their time and effort building various monuments. Luckily for us, remnants of these still remain scattered across the landscape.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of these ancient ruins have been closed. However, once we have left lockdown these will once again be open to the public. In the meantime, we will have to suffice with enjoying them at a distance, over the internet.
Here at The Valley, we look forward to welcoming you once the COVID-19 restrictions have eased. We hope that you’ll consider our luxury cottages in Cornwall when planning your next holiday, whether it’s to explore the ancient rocks and ruins of the county, or soak up the stunning coastline and countryside.
Carn Euny is a curious set of ruins that have been left behind from an Iron Age settlement. It was occupied until late Roman times. The well-preserved stone homes and structures include its fogou which is an underground passage.
Somewhat similar to the condition of Carn Euny, Chysauster is one of the greatest examples of a settlement site in the country.
The Roman-British settlement dates back almost 2,000 years ago. The site consists of ‘courtyard houses’ that line the remains of a village street. These houses were homes of farmers who grew cereal crops in the surrounding villages in the 18th century!
The Cheesewring is a natural geological formation that was created by the weather. The name originates from the piled slabs resembling a cheesewring, which is a press-like device that was used to make cheese.
Local legends insist that the Cheesewring was created from a contest between a man and a giant.
A stone’s throw away from the awe-inspiring rocks of the Cheesewring, you will find the remains of a caveman’s home. A man named Daniel Gumb set up his home with his family on the moors in the 18th century. He did this so that they could escape the taxman!
Adding to the collection of the well-preserved ancient sites in Cornwall, Trethevy Quoit is a Neolithic burial chamber. It stands at a height of 2.7 meters, towering above its visitors. The site consists of an enormous slab that is upheld by five standing stones.
Halliggye Fogou is a compilation of underground passages. The ancient site is one of the best preserved examples among several other mysterious underground channels within Cornwall. The reason behind the existence of fogous’ within Iron Age settlements is still unknown to this day.
This particular fogou dates back to the 5th or 4th century BC and was once part of a farming settlement. Some believe these were used as places of refuge, storage or ritual shrines.
What are your favourite ancient sites to visit in Cornwall? We’d love to hear about them on our social media channels! For more information about Cornwall, you can browse through our blog where we share our favourite sites, recipes and much more!
8 Facts About Falmouth
January 08th, 2021
Falmouth is a beautiful town on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall. As a port town, Falmouth has a rich maritime history and a strong connection to the sea. Here we take a look at some of the most fascinating facts about this area of Cornwall.
Henry VIII Built Pendennis Castle
Perched upon the hillside, overlooking the bay stands Pendennis Castle- a strong and dramatic castle that adds an element of charm to the scenery around Gylly Beach.
However, its purpose couldn’t be further from adding scenic wonder. It was actually erected in 1540 on the instruction of Henry VIII to defend the Carrick Roads.
Together with the castle situated in St Mawes to the east, the Falmouth estuary was well defended from potential attacks.
Sir John Killigrew Created Falmouth Town
It wasn’t much time after the completion of the castle that the town of Falmouth was created in 1613 by Sir John Killigrew.
In 1665, the town was bestowed with a new church entitled the “King Charles the Martyr” and soon after, a few hundred homes were built around the area for church-goers.
Great Tourism Rates Since 1863
With the development of Falmouth Docks in 1858 and the introduction of railway services to the area in 1863, the town was thriving with business and tourism.
Falmouth currently has three railway stations to service the town – Falmouth Docks Railway Station, Falmouth Town Railway Station and Penmere Railway Station. Falmouth is noted as one of the key resorts in the UK’s number one tourist destination, with Cornwall attracting an average of 4 million visitors a year!
Falmouth is an Award-Winning Town
In 2016, the town was credited with the highly prestigious accolade of GB High St Best Coastal Community.
Falmouth is a Hub of Creativity
Falmouth is home to one of the leading art universities in the UK, but in addition to the creativity the students bring to the town, there are many creative industries located in Falmouth. With a host of shows and exhibitions, Falmouth arguably holds the title for the most creative town in the UK!
Falmouth Has the Third Deepest Natural Harbour in the World
Falmouth’s harbour is the third deepest natural harbour in the world. It measures up to 34 metres in depth. It is only beaten by Sydney Harbour and The Port of Mahon.
Many notable events have taken place on Falmouth’s waters – and has been the starting or finishing point of many sailing achievements, including Robin Knox-Johnston’s in 1969, who was the first person to sail around the world non-stop and single-handedly.
In addition to that is Ellen Macarthur, who also completed this challenge in 2007, and is the fastest person on record to do so.
There are 111 steps up to Jacob’s Ladder
Something that catches the attention of tourists is the steps from The Moor in the heart of the town up to the Jacob’s Ladder pub. There are 111 steps in total and they were built by property owner and builder, Jacob Hablen, to link his business to the tourists and locals who gather in the town.
To discover more about Falmouth, be sure to follow us on Facebook to see our latest blog posts, photos of the stunning local scenery and deals on staying with us at our luxury cottages in Falmouth!
5 Fascinating Facts About the Lizard Peninsula
October 19th, 2020
The Lizard Peninsula is the most southern part of the UK, standing out for its unique geology and rock formations. Its rugged, rocky coastline is believed to contain rock which dates to over 500 million years old!
What is the Lizard Peninsula?
Almost an island of its own, the Lizard Peninsula is an impressive rocky headland surrounded by ocean on three of its sides with the Helford River to the North.
Situated on the South West Coast Path, it is a popular spot for walkers who come to marvel at its beauty as they enjoy a spot of adventure during their Cornwall short breaks.
It’s beautiful landscape not only attracts the attention of visitors, but the unique area is a hot spot for scientists as well! We explore its incredible history and offerings with our top selection of fascinating facts!
The Origins of Its Name is Not What You Assume
Despite its mysterious title, the name ‘Lizard’ unfortunately doesn’t derive from mystical origins.
Neither does the name come from the Serpentine rock which the area is renowned for. The surface of Serpentine transforms into a snake and scaly like surface once polished.
The roots of its name are relatively ambivalent, but one proposal is that it comes from the Cornish term ‘Lys Ardh’ which means ‘high court’.
Another suggestion is that the name has connections to the Cornish word ‘lezou’ which is translated to ‘headland’.
Image Credit: Visit Cornwall
Home to the UK’s Most Southerly Lighthouse
As the most southerly point in the UK, it comes as little surprise that it also boasts the UK’s most southerly lighthouse.
Previous to the lighthouse’s construction in 1752, the coast of the Lizard was a dangerous area for ships and was titled the ‘Graveyard of Ships’. The spot is now home to the Lizard Lifeboat Station.
Mainland Britain’s Largest Outcrop of Serpentine
As mentioned, the Lizard Peninsula has been a point of interest for scientists and geologists.
It isn’t uncommon to see many university students visit the area as the rocks here are not found in nearby locations.
One distinct rock is Serpentine. The Lizard Peninsula is mainland Britain’s most significant outcrop of the rock. It’s striking appearance was reportedly favoured by Queen Victoria which heightened the industry in the 19th-century.
Best Preserved Exposed Ophiolite in the UK
Another area of geological interest at the Lizard Peninsula is the ophiolite.
The Lizard Peninsula is heralded as UK’s top spot to see the best-preserved source of exposed ophiolite.
An ophiolite is a unique form of rock formation which is produced from the Earth’s oceanic crust pushed onto the continental crust. It is often green in colour.
The parts of ophiolite include:
• The serpentinites
• The ‘oceanic complex’
• The metamorphic basement
An ophiolite can be found in the mountain belts of locations such as the Himalayas and the Alps, and amazingly you can also see it in Cornwall!
Image Credit: Visit Cornwall
It’s an Area of Outstanding Beauty
The Lizard Peninsula has received many awards for its stunning landscape and is a heavily protected area. It is largely recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as well as providing eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest. These awards and sites are specifically bestowed to protect the geology and wildlife of the area.
The Lizard Peninsula is cared for and under the ownership of a variety of organisations including the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Natural England.
Off land, the surrounding ocean at the Manacles has been awarded as a Marine Conservation Zone which is rich in marine biodiversity.
The Lizard Peninsula is a stunning, natural and protected area, providing the ultimate location for wildlife to blossom. What are your favourite facts about the Lizard Peninsula? Which has not been covered in our blog? Why not share your thoughts on our social media channels; we would love to know!
8 Facts About The Famous Cornish Pasty
June 22nd, 2020
There’s not a Cornish person on the planet who isn’t exceptionally proud of their heritage, and that means the renowned Cornish pasty too. The pasty is intrinsically linked with Cornish heritage, as they were originally created and enjoyed by Cornish miners.
Take a look, and the next time you enjoy a pasty while you’re visiting one of our Truro holiday cottages, you can share your new-found facts on the Cornish delicacy.
Pasties in the States
Miners exported the idea of the Cornish pasty over with them to the United States of America, and even today, you can find lots of Cornish pasty shops in the mining towns of Michigan.
A Cornish pasty has the crimp on the side, whereas our Devonshire neighbours crimp theirs on the top.
Pasty in a Play
Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, first performed in 1600, contains the line: “Come! We have a hot pasty to dinner”.
Protection from the Devil
As legend would have it, the Devil wouldn’t dare attempt to venture across the River Tamar into Cornwall, for the fear of being put in a Cornish pasty as the filling.
Discarding the Crust
Originally, tin miners used the crimp you find on Cornish pasties as a makeshift ‘handle’ which they would then throw away. They had to discard the crust due to the fact that their fingers were contaminated with arsenic dust.
Introduction to Mexico
Drilling experts from Cornwall took the Cornish pasty with them to the silver mines of Mexico. You can now find a museum telling the story of this fact. During the same period, these miners introduced Association Football, or traditional football as we know it, to Latin America for the very first time.
Arguably the cutest of all the facts, a miner’s wife would carve her husband’s initials in his Cornish pasty so that he was able to distinguish his from all the others.
Oggy, Oggy, Oggy
In the Cornish language, a Cornish pasty is known as an ‘Oggy’. When the Cornish pasties were finished cooking and ready to be eaten, the wives would head over to the mineshaft and shout down: “Oggy, oggy, oggy!”, and the men would shout back: “Oi, oi, oi!” to let them know they were on the way.
Remember, a pasty can only be considered a ‘Cornish’ pasty if it was created in Cornwall! So, if you fancy one of these tasty treats, then you’ll need to pay a visit!
How to Celebrate St Piran’s Day
February 25th, 2020
St Piran’s Day is almost upon us, so we’re here to tell you all about the history of the celebrations and to take a look at some of the events taking place throughout Cornwall!
What is St Piran’s Day?
St Piran’s Day is the national day for Cornwall and is celebrated on the 5th March each year. Named after Saint Piran, one of the patron saints of Cornwall and of tin miners, the day began as a holiday for, and observed by, Cornish tin miners.
The day became a national day in the late 19th Century as a way to celebrate the county in a similar way that other nations do. Since the 1950’s, St Piran’s Day as a celebration has taken-off increasingly, with almost every community in Cornwall hosting events, such as parades, to mark the occasion.
Several towns and cities in Cornwall, including Truro, Bodmin and St Ives, allow their staff a day off for the day so that they can properly celebrate! It is also widely believed that St Piran’s Day marks the beginning of spring.
Who was Saint Piran?
As the story goes, Saint Piran was originally an Irish abbot in the 5th century, who was tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea, possibly under orders of the King, who had become wary of his powers.
Miraculously, Piran made it to Perranporth on the Northern coast of Cornwall, where he built an oratory to promote Christianity. Local legend says that his first disciples were a badger, bear and fox (so some Cornish children often dress as such animals for the parades).
Piran became the Saint of tin-miners, as well as of Cornwall, when he noticed some black rocks smelting by his fire, and discovered white tin pouring out from it. This is where the St Piran’s flag comes from, with the black background as the rock, and the white cross as the tin.
So how do you celebrate the day?
While St Piran’s Day is celebrated on the 5th March, the festivities actually commence around a week before, usually on the 28th February, as ‘Perrantide’.
This week is indulgently filled with everything Cornish, from an abundance of pasties to a glass too many of Cornish cider – it’s bound to be a good time! Activities and events leading up to the big day will be hosted in many towns at this time.
To celebrate the day, you may want to dress up in the colours of St Piran; black, white and gold. The black and white parts of this are the most important aspects, as this mirrors the Saint Piran’s flag; black background with a large white cross. There is also a traditional Cornish tartan that many people wear on this day.
Parades are a big part of the St Piran’s festivities, with one taking place in many of the towns throughout the county. Here, local children, choirs and community members will join the parade led by the Cornish flag (also known as the St Piran’s flag!), as a way of celebrating the day, and all that is Cornish!
Three of the biggest parades will be taking part in Perranporth, Redruth, and Truro:
As St Piran’s Day falls on a Thursday this year, there will be two celebrations in Perranporth – an event on St Piran’s Day, featuring St Piran on the beach with a range of performances and festivities, as well as the main parade on Sunday 8th March.
The Perranporth Parade will journey across the dunes of
Perranporth beach to the old church and oratory. The parade is led by ‘St Piran
and his animals’, who will reenact the story of St Piran as the parade progresses.
There will also be music, entertainment and the opportunity to have a drink or
On St Piran’s Day, Thursday 5th March, the parade in Truro will be leaving at 1pm from St George’s Road. You are welcome to join the parade, or simply to observe – St Piran himself may even be spotted!
The parade is filled with singing, dancing and musical performance that will fill the Truro streets with vibrant energy. At 2.30pm, head to the White Hart for a traditional Cornish music session and enjoy a sing-a-long with your pint!
The Redruth parade will be held on Saturday 7th March, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the festivities before the working week starts again! The parade will commence at noon; however, there will be activities going on throughout the day from 10am until 3pm.
As well as street entertainment there will be a Cornish market where you can find some delightful local crafts and produce, among other items. There will also be a display of classic cars, making this a great way to spend the day while celebrating Cornish heritage.
As a way to commemorate the day, many communities will be putting on a play on the 5th March about the life of Saint Piran. While many towns will be hosting such a play, one of the biggest will be performed in Perranporth, the town in which St Piran was said to have first arrived in Cornwall.
At 9pm on St Piran’s Day, those taking part in the celebrations will participate in the ‘Trelawny Shout’, especially if they are enjoying the festivities in a pub!
The Trelawny Shout is a sing-along in bars all throughout Cornwall, that includes a number of popular Cornish bar songs. Most notably, the Cornish Anthem, ‘The Song of the Western Men’, will be sung.
This tradition is actually quite recent, only having started a few years ago, but it has taken on as a great way to both honour St Piran and celebrate all that Cornish culture and community has to offer.
If you would like to take part in these festivities, then it’s not too late to book a luxury Cornish cottages holiday with us here at The Valley!
How to Spend a Day in Falmouth
July 29th, 2019
Falmouth is a beautiful Cornish seaside town, and because of its glorious scenery it’s a popular tourist spot. With so many people visiting Falmouth, it accommodates by having an abundance of attractions! From museums and castles to beaches and boat trips, there is plenty to see and do in this stunning part of the country! We take a look at how best to spend a day in Falmouth so you can take full advantage of your time in Cornwall.
Explore Pendennis Castle
Start your day by learning about some of Falmouth’s heritage at Pendennis Castle. With spectacular views of the sea, this castle was formerly one of Henry the Eighth’s most beautiful coastal fortresses! Additionally, the incredible castle has defended Cornwall since the Tudor times and played a vital role in both of the World War’s, so it is bursting with a fascinating history!
Today, you can visit Pendennis Castle and experience what it was like during battle! You can meet characters dressed up in costume from the past, and in the summer months, you can watch a daily firing of a historic gun! There is also a mesmerising exhibit that showcases what the castle was like during World War One; discover heart-wrenching letters, photographs and artefacts from the tragic time. Furthermore, on selected dates, the castle hosts Legendary Joust events; take a trip to the past and be a spectator of a thrilling battle!
After you have immersed yourself in the history of the remarkable castle, take a trip to the café and have a traditional Cornish bite to eat. If you prefer some alfresco dining, bring along your own picnic and set up on the lawn area; take in the exquisite views as you tuck into some delicious goodies!
Take a Boat Trip with AK Wildlife Cruises
What better way to spend your time in the seaside town of Falmouth than on a boat discovering some of the fascinating creatures living in the waters! On your journey, you will have the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, basking sharks, seals and many other species! AK Wildlife Cruises have introduced a new boat tour called “Family Bay Exploration” which is a three-hour experience to explore the spectacular coastline. There are also four-hour and seven-hour cruises if you would prefer to spend some more time out at sea.
To prepare for your wildlife discovery, take some binoculars to see as much as you can and also bring along some snack for if you get peckish! The boat is called “Free Spirit” and has both indoor and outdoor seating to accommodate all guests, and there is also a toilet on board. The boat captain and wildlife specialist, Keith, is incredibly passionate about what he does which resonates through the tours – he will help you spot all of the remarkable creatures! He will teach you all about them; any questions you may have, ask him, and he will be happy to answer!
Unwind at The Beach
In the late afternoon, take a trip to the beach to enjoy the spectacular scenery and relax on the golden sand. Considered the best in the area, Gyllyngvase Beach is the perfect spot to spend your evening! With toilet and shower facilities as well as hot and cold food on offer, this beach is brilliant for a family trip. If you are fancying a dip in the sea, the beach is manned by a lifeguard and the ocean is safe to swim in!
Once you have had a splash around in the beautiful blue waters, built some impressive sandcastles and soaked up some afternoon sunshine, you would’ve worked up an appetite. Why not taste the delights of local food and have some fish and chips by the beach? The Firepit Gylly Grill has an extensive menu from burgers and steak to pasta and obviously the glorious fish and chips!
If you would like to visit the lovely coastal town, consider a luxury Falmouth holiday and treat yourself and your family to a getaway at The Valley! With a unique collection of beautiful self-catering holiday cottages situated in a picturesque landscape, it is the perfect spot for your trip to the seaside! Want to learn more about Cornwall and what there is to do? Take a look at our previous blog that lists some great places for a family day out in Cornwall!
Five Historical Moments that Made Falmouth
September 28th, 2018
Falmouth may seem on the outside like a simple port town in the Cornish countryside, but at one point this port was one of the most important in the whole of the British Empire. Before setting sail on one of our luxury Falmouth holidays, learn about the town through five vital moments in history that shaped it into the beautiful town we know and love today.
1. Henry VIII and The Civil War.
What may surprise you is that Falmouth is a comparatively young port town. During the 16th century, the area now known as Falmouth was merely a port, connecting to the main towns of the area, like Penryn further north. However, the port was crucial for trade to the west of Britain, and in 1540 Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle to help defend it. That, combined with St Mawes Castle on the other side of the Carrick Roads Estuary, meant that the port became a reliable stronghold.
It’s not surprising, then, that at the end of the Civil War during the 1600s, Pendennis Castle was one of the very last Royalist strongholds before they surrendered to the Parliamentary Army.
2. Sir John Killigrew’s enterprise
While the importance of this westerly port continued to grow during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, at the time only one family lived in the area – the Killigrew family at the prestigious Arwenack House. At the time, Sir John Killigrew was the most powerful man in Cornwall, and it was his connections that allowed him to start building more homes in the area, despite opposition from established towns such as Helston and Truro.
It was around 1613 when houses began to be built, and more people started living in the area around the port. Initially, the area was divided into two hamlets – Smithicke and Pennycomequick.
3. King Charles’ Charter
Despite Killigrew’s success in the area, building a market and custom house during the 1650s, Falmouth didn’t come into official existence until 1661, when King Charles II gave Sir John Killigrew a charter, allowing the selection of a mayor and giving the townspeople certain rights. Charles II declared that the two hamlets would combine to create Falmouth, giving birth to the town we know today.
In return, King Charles II asked that a church be built in the town dedicated to his father, King Charles the Martyr. Very quickly the small, makeshift hamlets became a recognised parish town, with hundreds of homes built around the new church during the 1660s.
4. Royal Mail and the Docks
Following on from the minor boom of the church, in 1688 Falmouth was made into the Royal Mail Packing Station. This was a vitally important role in the expanding British Empire, and Falmouth harbour was filled with packing ships that transported important news and private goods to London and the far reaches of the globe. The town boomed – Falmouth quickly became one of Britain’s most important and busiest ports, with the packing business passing through its harbour for the next 150 years.
In the late 1850s, the development of Falmouth Docks began. As the Steam Age meant the packing business left Falmouth and returned to London, the town transformed into a thriving trading centre for people across the world.
5. The Railway, Maritime Museum and Falmouth University.
Just a few years after the docks were built, the national railway reached Falmouth. This was a significant event, as the town suddenly found a new and vital revenue stream that would last for centuries – tourism. As time continued to pass, and technology meant that it was easier for people to trade elsewhere, Falmouth began its natural transformation from a hub of trade into a place for people to visit, thanks to the history that had come before it.
Nowadays Falmouth’s main industry is tourism. The Maritime Museum was opened in 2003 by HRH Prince Andrew, and the town continues to attract guests from across the world thanks to its achievements – Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail around the globe single-handed in the 1960s, begun and completed his journey from Falmouth’s port. Falmouth University received its full university status in 2012, becoming the first university in Cornwall and marking the next step into the future for this vital town.
Falmouth is a fantastically progressive town steeped in history. You can find out more by reading about a history of Falmouth, and hopefully, filled with all this knowledge, you’ll be able to see the town in a brand-new light when you next visit!
Who Knew These 9 Exceptional Facts About Newquay?
July 20th, 2018
When guests stay at our child-friendly cottages, Cornwall is their oyster. Newquay, the popular seaside town on the north coast, is less than an hours’ drive from our 5-star cottages and well worth visiting on a day out. Behind every destination, there is a captivating history, and Newquay is no different. Before you make your way to discover the delights of Newquay for yourself, why not read up on some fascinating facts about the Cornish town?
The History of the Cornish Pasty
July 21st, 2017
When going on holiday to Cornwall, you’ll probably find a Cornish pasty between your hands at one point or another. What you might not realise, however, is that the origins of the pasty go back at least eight centuries! Here we give you a brief rundown of what has made the pasty Cornwall’s most treasured food.(more…)
Falmouth appoints a new town crier who is the youngest in the UK
May 10th, 2017
Falmouth has long been a town that has been rooted in its traditions. With the likes of the sea shanty festival and the National Maritime Museum, Falmouth’s celebration of its history is much a part of its culture than its emerging status as an artist’s hub. The tradition of the town crier has a long-standing in English history, and Falmouth is proud to still have it as a regular feature of the town.