Exploring Cornwall By Boat: Ferries Around The Fal

Our holiday cottages in Falmouth and the surrounding waterways lend themselves perfectly to exploring by boat! A drive along the roads can often be swapped for a much shorter (and more memorable) crossing by ferry… 

Here is our local guide to navigating the Carrick Roads – most of these are lovely little foot ferries, but we’ll start with the famous ‘King Harry’ car ferry to the Roseland that marks many a holiday memory for those visiting Cornwall!

King Harry Ferry

A vehicle-carrying chain ferry from Feock to Philleigh, this service has been saving people the 27 mile road route via Truro since 1888! It’s very regular (except in very extreme weather conditions), departing every twenty minutes and taking about five minutes to make the crossing – during which time you can enjoy a view of the river through the huge glass side panels. 

You can pay by contactless card on the ferry, £7.50 single or £11 day return, and all specific prices for vans, bikes, pedestrians can be found here. Once you’re across on the Roseland Peninsula, explore the picturesque Portscatho and the connecting coastal walk to the beautiful Porthcurnick Beach, or visit the National Trust’s Carne and Pendower

You can of course drive to the stunning harbour town of St Mawes, but we personally prefer to travel there by passenger ferry from Falmouth Town itself…

Exploring Cornwall By Boat: King Harry Ferry View

St Mawes Ferry

Travelling between Falmouth and St Mawes, this is a beautiful passenger ferry to the Roseland Peninsula. You can also take dogs and bicycles on the 20 minute crossing, 7 days a week throughout the year. The boats are classic wooden ferries with indoor and outdoor seating areas, boasting amazing views across the Carrick Roads. They regularly post pictures of wildlife sightings on their Instagram – including dolphins and basking sharks! 

Once you’ve enjoyed your time on the water, there are beautiful clear beaches and a range of eateries on St Mawes seafront – we especially like the Da Bara Bakery and St Mawes Bakery for a takeaway picnic! You can also hire paddleboards and kayaks from the harbour. 

St Mawes Castle is a historic monument cared for by English Heritage, showcasing the history of Henry VIII’s reign and the vital protection of Falmouth’s strategically important harbour. The castle is much smaller than Pendennis Castle, so a visit won’t take all day, but it is well worth a visit as you explore the headland and the views across to Falmouth, Mylor and Flushing.

Exploring Cornwall By Boat: Fal River Boats

Place Ferry

From St Mawes Harbour, the ferry to Place is a well used connection in the South West Coast Path, taking passengers towards the iconic St Anthony’s Head lighthouse. A much smaller boat, it runs every 30 minutes at £6.00 Single or £8.20 return. Check with St Mawes Harbour Office if you are exploring outside of Summer holidays, as this ferry is more seasonal than the more central routes.

Flushing Ferry

The ferry between Flushing and the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth is a 10 minute journey; regular for locals and visitors alike, running every day throughout the year. Whether you’re starting from one of our cottages in Flushing, or beginning your journey on the Falmouth side, it’s a convenient hop between the lively town full of shops and places to eat, and the rural walks and beaches across the water. From Flushing Quayside you can also easily walk to Mylor, or up to the Farmer’s Market at Tregew on a Saturday morning!

Exploring Cornwall By Boat: Flushing Ferry

Malpas, Trelissick & Falmouth Boat Trips

Operating as more of a guided boat trip experience, connecting Falmouth town with the National Trust gardens at Trelissick, and the hidden village of Malpas as you wind inland towards Truro. The friendly crew will point out features of interest along the way, and light refreshments are available during the journey. If you buy tickets online, they are 10% cheaper, and you choose which part of the route you want to do. Family discounts are also available. 

This ferry runs from April to October and in 2024 there are also a selection of special high tide cruises to the city of Truro (keep an eye on their website for these!)

Wildlife Cruises

Although not a ferry as you start and finish at the same location, we just wanted to also mention the wonderful Wildlife Cruises available from Falmouth Marina. The 3-hour, 4-hour, and 7-hour wildlife cruises take you either out of the harbour mouth and into the open sea, or up the rivers and creeks of the Carrick Roads, depending on the weather conditions and recommendations for wildlife spotting on that day. Tours frequently sea marine birds and seals, and on lucky days also find dolphins and even humpback whales when heading offshore!

Boat Hire from Falmouth

If you’ve got a route in mind that these ferries haven’t covered, why not hire a self-drive boat which can take up to 8 people, and also allow dogs?!  From Mylor Yacht Harbour, you can meander up the creeks to explore at high tide, head across to St Just in Roseland (with its picturesque church), or stop off at the Pandora Inn where you can tie up to the floating pontoon for a drink! 

Mylor Boat Hire

We hope this has inspired your sense of adventure on the water, so do let us know what you get up to during your stay! We love to hear from you by email, or on Facebook and Instagram where it’s great to see guest photos. If we can help at all with planning your stay, just get in touch…

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