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A free guide to snorkelling around Falmouth.

A free guide to snorkelling around Falmouth.

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  • 1. Snorkel Falmouth A simple guide to snorkelling around Falmouth. Mark Milburn January, 2012
Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !1
  • 2. Good SelectionWrecks and ReefsFalmouth Bay is protected from the predominant south westerly windsby the Lizard Peninsula. This makes it likely that you will get favourableconditions to go snorkelling. The worst time to try and snorkel aroundFalmouth, is during an easterly or southerly wind. These winds willbring waves, they have also brought many wrecks. There are threeGerman WWI U-Boats, a 5,000 ton oil tanker and a 422 ton fishingtrawler. The coast shelves slowly, you will have to swim a long way outto get much deeper than 10m. Visibility varies from 1m to up to 10m.Marine life is varied and you may see a range of things fromNudibranchs to Seals, if youre lucky. Well start at the most northerlysite and work south. You can snorkel anywhere but you may misssomething special.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !2
  • 3. Falmouths most popular shore dive is the Silver Steps, it is also anexcellent snorkel. The Silver Steps relate to the bright granite stepsgoing down to the sea off of Pendennis Point, pictured above. To getthere head along Castle Drive, the one way system around Pendennisheadland. The first landmark on the left is the dockyard, then a littlefurther around there is a car park. A few hundred metres more, justbefore the road becomes two way, there is a lay-by on the left. Parkthere, it’s free. A photo of the lay-by is below.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !3
  • 4. The path to the steps is just to the left of the lay-by looking out to sea.The path splits into two. It is possible to enter the water from the lefthand path and steps or the right hand. Divers will enter from the well trodden right hand path and steps.There are quite a few steps down, for most of the way there is a heavyduty handrail. The handrail is especially useful on the way back up. Asa snorkeller, the left hand path will take you closer to a submarinewreck, the UB-86. The German WWI U-Boat that was part of aconsignment to Falmouth, in payment for war reparations after the endof WWI. The U-Boats were moored in Falmouth Bay, when a southerlygale made them part their moorings and crash onto the rocks. UB-86 isone of three submarines remains left around Falmouths shore. At lowwater part of the submarine breaks the surface. Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !4
  • 5. Circled on the photo below is part of one of UB-86s structure showing atlow water (spring tides).The submarines have all been heavily salvaged, there is enough left tomake it worthwhile spending a while exploring it. Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !5
  • 6. In the gully to the right, looking from shore, is the remains of anothersubmarine, the UB-97. The most noticeable part of the submarineremaining is the large three pronged fork, possibly part of the hydro-vane hinge. There is much more left of UB-86 than UB-97 though. Thetop of the UB-97 is around 2m at low water.To the right of UB-86 is an interesting gully with a tiny cave at the end,within the cave are the remains of a small motorbike. The bike does getburied in sand now and then. The reef all along Pendennis is covered inlife and is very pleasant.The next location is off of Castle Beach. Castle Beach is in front of theFalmouth Hotel just a little further along from the Silver Steps. It is thelocation of another German submarine. The submarine is not far offshore, its around 100m to the far end of theU-Boat. At high water you can swim over the reef straight to the wreck.At lower states of the tide it is best to head about 20m south of the lowerslope, there is a gap in the reef which makes for easy entry. You can findthe U-Boat by swimming along the reef, it is usually covered in kelp andcan be hard to spot.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !6
  • 7. The wreck lies at 90 degrees to the shore. If you line up the left hand edge of the Falmouth Hotel, with the left hand side of the ice cream hut and swim out, you will come across the wreck. At low water spring tides the shallowest part touches the surface, the deepest is around 8m at high water. Parking is usuallyavailable along the roadside above the ice cream hut.Along the coast another 1/2 mile and Gyllyngvase beach is our nextlocation. Gylly has nice reefs at both ends of the beach. The south end isinteresting enough but a little further along there is the remains of awreck, the 5,077 ton oil tanker, the Ponus. The wreck is well broken and spread over a huge area. The largest piecestands around 2m high. To find it you need a straight line between thelast tall tree in the car park and the red and white beach safety sign.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !7
  • 8. Keep the tree and sign lined up and you will come across the biggest piece. The only other line of sight (transit), is the white wall beside the restaurant at Swanpool becoming visible around the point. Once you find the wreck youcan swim around for quite awhile finding more and moreof it. It is spread over at least50m with plates, pipes andribs half buried in sand. Thesand can shift and parts ofthe wreck get covered anduncovered. The top of wreckis just 0.5m deep at lowwater, maximum depth is 8mat high water. The best place to park is on the road just behind VictoriaGardens. You can then walk around the southern end of the gardens tothe beach. Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !8
  • 9. Swanpool is a very easy snorkel. Especially at high tide. From the carpark to the water can be as little as a 25m walk. The southern reef isplain and simple, usually with quite a bit of life. It winds its way in andout all the way to the point about 400m away. The north reef isshallower, at high water there is a very shallow arch to swim through.On high springs you can swim around the back of the island and outthrough the arch. At low water you can walk through the arch.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !9
  • 10. Maenporth Beach also has a wreck, a 422 ton fishing trawler sunk in1978, it is very shallow and about a 300m swim out. It is an excellentsnorkel and a the reef to it can be interesting. The wreck lies behindrocks along the left hand side, north side, of the cove and is not visiblefrom the beach. At low water you can climb across the rocks to get tothe wreck, then walk around the remains of the Ben Asdale. The car park on the beach makes easy access to the water. You can walkalong the cliff path to see the wreck from above. You have to make yourway through some bushes, to get to the ledge above it though.Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !10
  • 11. The last not to be missed location is the Helford River. Grebe Beach andDurgan are just a couple of hundred metres apart, on the north side ofthe Helford River. Durgan has a lot of moorings to swim around whilstGrebe has no moorings at all. They both have Sea Grass beds with awide variety of life. The Helford River is a voluntary area ofconservation, mainly because of this variety of life. It is best to snorkelat slack water, around one hour after high or low water. Then head intothe opposite direction of the next tide, so you can swim back with thetide when it turns. If you dont you may struggle to get back to whereyou started. The maximum depth is around 6m off of either beach.Parking isnt easy as the car park is at the top of the hill, dont parkanywhere else as the police patrol the area. The trip is worth it if youlike marine life. Thornback Rays and Cuttlefish have been spottedwhilst just snorkelling on the surface.There are many other very interesting sites to snorkel. You can wanderalong the cliff paths and find little coves that no-one visits. This guideonly lists the easy access and the not to be missed sites. Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !11
  • 12. Sponsored by Mark Milburn Snorkel Falmouth, Page !12