Monday, 15 April 2019

Whetting the appetites for Cornwall in June

Cornwall is a very special place, not only for its rich nautical and mining history, but also for its spectacular scenery, the coastal path being a paradise for walkers. It is one of the most beautiful counties in England, although many locals say that once you leave Devon and cross the River Tamar you leave England behind!
Regular blog readers might be aware of my love for this special place, and those of you who will be attending Computational Modelling '19 and/or Physical Separation '19 in June will have a unique experience, as there is much happening during the conference week.
For the first time we will be using a new venue, Falmouth's National Maritime Museum, located by the magnificent natural harbour, and in the centre of what I call 'old Falmouth' where the town's world class restaurants and pubs are located.
The Falmouth National Maritime Museum
Photo: Peter Edwards
Only a 5 minute walk from the Museum is the famous 17th century Chain Locker pub, where delegates will be able to sample Cornwall's finest ales after the first day at each conference. This will be after a guided walk along the coast path and around the moat of the 16th century Pendennis Castle, which guarded the River Fal from French and Spanish invasion in Tudor times, long before Falmouth itself became a town.
The Pendennis Castle moat
The Chain Locker pub
The narrow alley leading to the Chain Locker, typical of many such alleyways leading to the quays, was a dangerous place to be in the 18th and early 19th centuries, as a night on the town could lead to an awakening the next morning with a very sore head, having been 'pressed' into service on a Royal Navy ship by one of the 'press gangs' which lurked in these areas. Cornwall in those times was the world's major producer of copper and tin, and some of the burly men 'pressed' into service would have been miners from the local Gwennap Parish, only 8 miles from Falmouth, and known as the 'richest square mile on earth' due to its high grade copper deposits. Physical Separation '19 delegates will pass through this area on the Friday afternoon, en route to the well-preserved engine houses of Wheal Peevor near Redruth.
Mining archaeology in the Gwennap Parish
On returning in the early evening, Falmouth will be coming alive with the annual Sea Shanty Festival, where 66 groups from all over the UK, as well as from Brittany, Holland, Spain, Canada and Ireland will perform their sea songs and shanties in over 20 different venues throughout the town. A good reason to book your accommodation well in advance of the conference week!
The most well known of the sea shanty groups is Fisherman's Friends, the subject of an eponymous movie, just released, which I would highly recommend that you see, as it will give you a real feel for the atmosphere of Cornwall. The group perform every Friday in the tiny village of Port Isaac, 40 miles from Falmouth by road, but extremely busy in summer. The movie was filmed on location in the village, and lovers of Doc Martin will also recognise it as the fictitious village of Portwenn in the BBC TV series. This section of Cornwall's rugged north coast is a haven for serious hikers, and if you really want a challenge, try the 9 mile walk between Port Isaac and Tintagel, perhaps the most gruelling section of the Cornish coastal path.
Port Isaac
There are many good reasons to stay on in Falmouth, even if you did not come by car, and on the weekend after the conferences Cornish Lithium Ltd has invited delegates to their Walking with Poldark tours. Coaches will depart from Falmouth, and on Saturday June 15th, there will be a wonderful 6 mile walk on Cornwall’s rugged north coast, in the area near Land's End where most of the mining scenes for the BBC series Poldark were filmed.
I am sure that you will leave Cornwall in June with the feeling that you have experienced something very special- the conference programmes are not too bad either!
Twitter @barrywills

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