Fantastic band tour to Falmouth

We’ve just come back from the BEST time on band tour in Falmouth, Cornwall. We had so much fun exploring the town, socialising, climbing, zip wiring, going on a boat trip, eating pizza and pasties, swimming in the sea, and of course playing music.

Some of our band members remember the weekend’s activities…

Kicking off band tour activities with via ferrata fun

Diane on piccolo and Nicola on clarinet reveal all that happened on the via ferrata climbing activity…

Band group doing via ferrata

The via ferrata group before braving the quarry course (some watched!)

The savvy in band should have realised that by choosing the activity Sue had suggested for the activity slot on day 1 of our tour, we were bound to end up both exhilarated and exhausted. We knew after a late arrival on the Friday night we were in trouble when Sue cheerily advised us we had to be ready and on the bus at 8:55am!

Off we tootled with the friendly coach driver negotiating ever narrowing lanes on our way to Via Ferrata. Squeezing past buildings and bushes we arrived excited and apprehensive to a car park with closed portacabins and an equally confused stag party. Sue and Nick, who had kindly done a recce, were also puzzled not recognising the site, and after a swift march round the corner we found the right office and the site of our epic adventure, a disused quarry.

Some band members climbing

Some band members climbing up the quarry

The view from above was met with relieved smiles as we took in the routes and we all happily went over to get kitted up. The usual shenanigans ensued whereby someone managed to put harnesses on inside out, back to front etc. and there were shouts of “does my bum look big in this?” Our friendly guide managed to whip us in to shape and take us off to learn the ropes with a resigned but cheerful demeanour of someone quite used to herding cats.

So the climbing begins…

Di demanding evidence of risk assessment aside, Ted and Kristian, our talented young percussionists, led the way. The rest of us followed merrily along with a variety of efforts ranging from slick experienced ease (Heather and Kirsten) to nervous novice knee knockers (Tracey and Nick) as we made our way round.

Key highlights as we traversed a three-wire bridge were echos of “DO NOT wobble this bridge” and “how am I supposed to GET UP there?” There were also lovely assurances of “oh you guys are not going to like this next bit” where much to our surprise there was no zip wire. As Sue sold via ferrata to us as “zip wires and stuff” we then all immediately agreed to upgrade and move on to the next quarry where a zip wire actually existed.

Band members on wire bridge at via ferrata

Band members braved the wire bridge across the water

The local wildlife was treated to squeals and cackles of laughter (Sue leading) as people gave useful advice and encouragement like “just relax Nick, it’ll be much less tiring”, and “just get your leg up and over love”.

The grand finale was the much anticipated zip wire where we had a variety of landing styles from the running man to the bouncing bomb, which definitely led to some wear and tear on the trouser bum area!

Overall a very satisfied and merry group of exhausted via ferrata banders were grateful for a quick shower and a hot lunch well earned!

A more relaxing boat trip down the Helford River

Becky on saxophone tells us about the very chilled boat trip…

The band were split into two groups. Group A chose to go balancing off a steep cliff in a quarry wobbling precariously on a tightrope wire, and Group B chose a leisurely cruise down Falmouth harbour. It was no surprise therefore that I opted to join the sensible crew in Group B. After an extra hour’s lie in we sauntered off into Falmouth town centre heading towards the pier to meet our 11am appointment. The weather was glorious with hot sunshine and no wind and therefore perfect conditions to tour the waters around Falmouth.

Band members on Falmouth pier ready for boat trip

The boat trip group gathered at the pier in Falmouth ready for our Helford River trip

Our touring boat duly arrived on time and we boarded, some opting for the lower deck seats and the rest scaled the steps to get a better view on the higher deck. As the boat chugged out into the harbour we were introduced to the crew. Our commentator proceeded to run through the sights as we headed out to sea helped enormously by his wonderful strong Cornish accent. I’m afraid I don’t remember his name so, for this blog’s purposes, I am going to call him Daveth. Daveth’s strong accent combined with sarcastic wit proved to be a highly entertaining addition to a beautiful tour.

On the lookout for wildlife

As the boat headed out to sea we passed the Maritime Museum, the dock yards and then Pendennis Castle before hitting the sea and then taking a right turn to follow the coastline. The sea was like a mill pond and we all scrutinised the water hoping we would spot a seal or even a dolphin. Sadly neither materialised. There was, however, plenty of birdlife which was beautifully captured for prosperity on Jonathan’s humongous camera!

The boat continued to hug the beautiful coastline past rugged cliffs and tiny little bays. Finally we reached the mouth of the Helford River and headed up river to get a close-up view of how the other world lived with £4 million properties nestled in the woods along the shore. We reached Helford Passage and then took a u-turn and headed back out to sea, this time cruising closer to the shore so that our able commentator could keep us well supplied with some wonderful anecdotes.

We passed Fisherman’s Rock and spotted the tower of St Mawnan and St Stephen’s Church peeping above heavy woodland before heading back out to sea and back to Falmouth.

A visit enjoyed by all!

Our concerts in the church and Pendennis Castle

Emma on flute describes our weekend concerts…

Of course we can’t talk about our tour weekend without mentioning music! After our activities we devoured lots of pizza before making our way to the Church of King Charles The Martyr right in the centre of Falmouth’s high street. The coach pulled up outside and everyone did their bit to unload the heaps of equipment into the church. At 3:30pm it was baton down for a quick rehearsal before the evening’s concert and we met Falmouth choir Local Vocalz so we could practise our joint pieces.

Towards the end of the rehearsal we were all a bit distracted by the waft of Cornish pasties coming from the back of the church. As soon as we finished rehearsing we hurried to get our pasties – when in Cornwall! Then, before we knew it, it was time to get changed and at 7:30pm we began our concert.

We played a variety of music including Goff Richards’ Doyen which was written to commemorate a luxury coach at the time – very fitting seeing as we’d taken the coach down to Falmouth! Our programme also included The Wizard of Oz which has a beautiful arrangement of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

We heard some fun piano pieces from Richard at the church, and the choir performed some classic tunes. We then came together for a few pieces including Les Mis and the powerful Moment for Morricone – which is one of our band’s favourites. The concert finished with a patriotic rendition of Trelawny, Cornwall’s anthem.

Sunday morning and Pendennis Castle

Pendennis Castle sign at entrance

The entrance to our Sunday concert venue, Pendennis Castle

Some members of band were up bright and early for a Sunday, to go for a dip in the sea. Others were stirring at that time and took photos from their hotel room to document the crazy event! We all had breakfast together and after a lovely relaxing morning we made our way to Pendennis Castle.

When we got there everyone moved into action and unloaded everything from the coach – which had by this point become a very slick operation. It was very windy on top of the cliff! We played outside in the courtyard and were surrounded on three sides by buildings but the wind blew in from the sea in front of us. We got the pegs out and pinned our music to our stands as best we could, and even then some people’s music blew off their stands mid-performance when a strong gust came along!

Band performing at Pendennis Castle

Band performing in the courtyard at Pendennis Castle © Alex Bostock

Despite the wind challenges we really enjoyed ourselves and so did our audience who were seated wrapped up warm, some enjoying a nice cuppa. Pieces included the apt Breezin’ Down Broadway with lots of recognisable Broadway classics; film music from Mary Poppins and Moulin Rouge, and pop tunes from the likes of Tom Jones and Adele.

After a chilly but fun set, we packed up, headed into Falmouth centre to grab some lunch and then made our way home on the coach.

What a weekend! When’s the next band tour?

Find more photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also see what happened when we went on tour to Wales in 2018.