Sub-menu Navigation

Falmouth’s Secret Harbours 

Taking you on a voyage of discovery to the hidden delights of the Fal and Truro rivers

Heading north up the Carrick Road is a voyage to discovering the hidden delights of the Fal and Truro rivers. Unlike many rivers the passage to the head of navigation at Truro is mostly deep apart from the last few miles. But you could take a leisurely few days exploring this area and still want to come back for more. There are harbours and pubs a plenty, all with a tale to tell and a welcome mooring.

Mylor Creek

Once past Penarrow Point, the entrance to Mylor creek hides behind the plethora of small craft moorings. Seasonal red/green lateral marks indicate the west going fairway through the moorings leading to Mylor Yacht Harbour, Mylor Yacht Club and Restronguet Sailing Club. The moorings either side of the fairway are mostly coloured red/green to provide an obvious channel which then turns SSW to the Yacht Harbour.

Chart point 1. Red and green mooring buoys mark the fairway leading to Mylor Yacht Harbour

For a time, Mylor was the western most Naval victualling station and dockyard in England, then home to HMS Ganges as well as a centre for the French Resistance during the Second World War. Swinging moorings and alongside berths are available to visiting boats.

Chart point 2. Mylor Yacht Harbour

Restronguet Creek

Heading North once more, the entrance to Restronguet Creek lies to the west after Weir Point. Keep an eye out for North and South Cardinals marking the Carrick Carlys rock which is just North of the channel. The approach to Restronguet is relatively shallow and needs sufficient rise of tide to get into the deep water in the entrance of the creek which is marked by a host of small craft moorings.

Chart point 3. North & South Cardinals marking Carrick Carlys rock

The moorings lead NW and the recently re-built Pandora Inn sits on the western bank offering a long pontoon which dries at low water, so keep an eye on the tide if you decide to stop for a pint and bite to eat. The Inn dates back to the 13th Century and owes its name to the HMS Pandora, the naval ship sent to capture the mutineers from Captain Bligh’s Bounty. The Captain of the Pandora is reputed to have bought the inn after his court-marshal in Cornwall following the grounding & sinking of HMS Pandora on the Great Barrier reef.

Chart point 4. Access to the Pandora Inn pontoon is possible. Current depths can be checked with the Inn.

River Fal

Back in the Carrick Road, lateral buoys head NE and lead to Turnaware Bar green mark which keeps you clear of the bar stretching out from Tunaware Point. It also marks the start of the 8 knot speed limit and the start of the River Fal.

The deep water channel heads east for a couple of cables before turning north as it passes a row of large visitor mooring pontoons. For the next two miles large mooring buoys are dotted along the channel providing sheltered mooring for large commercial vessels who make use of one of Britain’s deepest rivers. Just before the King Harry chain ferry there is a pontoon allowing access for the ferries and dinghies going to the National Trust Tressilick Gardens and House.

Chart point 5. King Harry chain ferry

Ship moorings up river

Four cables North the channel turns to the east and the inside of the bend is home to the Smugglers restaurant and Tea Bar which hosts a visitors pontoon for either short stay or overnight. One of the Smugglers most famous guests was Eisenhower during the Second World War when he came to address the thousands of American troops camped next to the river preparing for the D Day landings.

Chart point 6. Visitor pontoon at The Smugglers

Towards Malpas

The river turns North once more and as it does, the River Fal branches to the North East and becomes a long shallow creek but we now follow the Truro River as it heads North and passes a secluded row of visitor pontoons.

A green buoy marks the extent of the shallow Maggoty Bank as the river turns the corner to the North East where several midstream visitor moorings can be found. The river bends around Woodbury Point and yacht moorings give a good indication of the channel. The village of Malpas comes into view and there are a few visitors buoys close to the town and also Malpas Marine which may have a berth available for smaller boats. The name Malpas is said to come from the French ” Le Mal Pas” meaning “the difficult crossing” as it has been a river crossing place for at least 800 years. The Heron Inn, Malpas serves food and drink and is easily accessed by dinghy.

Chart point 7. Malpas Marine.

Victoria Quay, east of Malpas with their own private marina

The river divides at Malpas with the Tresillian River heading off to the north east and the Truro River continuing South West as it rounds Victoria point on the northern bank. Care should be taken when passing Malpas to avoid the sandbank in the middle of the river. Often the best water hugs the Northern bank then shifts midstream as you round Victoria Point. Buoyage then increases as we head towards Truro.

The channel winds its way upstream then narrows as it enters the canal like Lighterage Quay and Tidal Barrage with Truro Cathedral in the background.

Chart point 8. Tidal Barrage with Truro Cathedral in the background.


The Tidal Barrage is usually open, it may be shut on exceptionally high tides to protect the city, in which case a waiting pontoon is located downstream of the barrage.

Once through the barrage, buoys give way to posts marking the channel at close intervals but be sure identify the next mark before heading to it. The channel hugs the starboard then port banks before being punctuated by a Supermarket on the port side. The river divides and the visitor moorings alongside the quay wall and harbour master office can be seen ahead. Boats staying here for any length of time should be capable of taking the ground.

Chart point 9. Truro visitor moorings and harbour office in front of the Cathedral.

There has been a settlement in Truro since the 12th Century, and a busy port for many years as a stannary town where tin was checked and stamped before being shipped out. Queen Victoria granted Truro city status by 1877, it remains the only city in Cornwall today.

Fact file

Mylor Yacht Harbour
Port of Truro
Pandora Inn
Smugglers and the Tea Bar
Heron Inn

Mylor Yacht Harbour
Ch 37/80 or phone 01326 372121
Malpas Marine
01872 271260
Port of Truro 01872 224231


4.7m MHWS 5.3
MLWS 0.6
Neap 2.3m MHWN 4.2
MLWN 1.9


MHWS 3.5
MHWN 2.4


Plenty of places to anchor along the River Fal and Truro River especially if you can take the ground. Stay clear of the channels which are frequented by tripper boats, ferries and the occasional big ship. Otherwise make use of the mid-stream visitor moorings which are reasonably priced.


Imray Y58

Click chart to enlarge


Chart Y58 is reproduced with the kind permission of Imray.

Chart copyright UKHO.

Words & pictures By Simon & Vicky Jinks, SeaRegs
©SeaRegs 2012

© Crown Copyright and/or database rights. Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the UK Hydrographic Office (

This material is not for resale, redistribution or copying.
Not to be used for navigation.

Many thanks to South West Powerboating for the use of their RIB;

Find books for your course at the RYA Shop

eBooks in the cloud
Our handy guide shows the books & DVDs that go with your course!
Please select...