Plymouth Hoe is a large south facing open public space and is adjacent to and above the low limestone cliffs that form the seafront and it has magnificent views of Drake's Island and across the Hamoaze to Mount Edgcumbe in Cornwall.
A prominent landmark on the Hoe is Smeaton's Tower. This is the upper portion of John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse, which was originally built on the Eddystone Rocks (22.5 km south) in 1759. It was dismantled in 1877 and moved, stone by stone, to the Hoe where it was re-erected. Plymouth Hoe is perhaps best known for the story that Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls here in 1588 before sailing out with the English fleet to engage with the Spanish Armada.
A statue of Sir Francis Drake by Joseph Boehm (a copy of the original in his home town of Tavistock) was placed here in 1884 to commemorate him.
There are also several war memorials along the northern side of the Hoe. The largest commemorates the Royal Naval dead of the two world wars; its central obelisk is by Robert Lorimer and was unveiled in 1924, while the surrounding sunken garden was added by Edward Maufe in 1954.
The Hoe also includes a long broad tarmacked promenade (currently a disabled motorists car park) which serves as a spectacular military parade ground and which is often used for displays by Plymouth based Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Army garrison, as well as for funfairs and open-air concerts.
Set into the shape of the southern sea facing fortifications of the Royal Citadel, is the world-renowned Marine Biological Laboratory and below and to the east, perched on the rocky foreshore is the clubhouse of the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club. The Hoe is a popular area for Plymothians and visitors. If you stand on Plymouth Hoe and look out to sea you will see yachts, speed boats, and pleasure cruisers enjoying the calm waters. Further out, beyond the breakwater, where the sea is more choppy, you will often see large gray naval ships sailing majestically across the Sound. The Fastnet yacht race ends here. There are annual three day national firework championships attracting tens of thousands of spectators.
One of the most striking features of Plymouth Sound is Drake’s Island. This island is not large and is quite close to Plymouth Hoe. In fact in the 1930s people were known to swim out to it from Plymouth Hoe. Used during the Second World War, it still has underground rooms and tunnels for the soldiers, and Drakes Island's fortifications can be seen from Plymouth Hoe.
As you approach Plymouth Hoe from Plymouth City Centre you are led naturally onto the wide sweep of the Promenade, where there is plenty of room for walkers to stroll and children to ride scooters or bikes. The promenade gives onto a grassy expanse where you can sit and enjoy the spectacular sea views from the grass itself or on one of the many benches closer to the water.
Arguably Plymouth's best-known landmark, Smeaton’s Tower is the most prominent feature on Plymouth Hoe's green belt. You can even buy prints of a famous photograph of the Beatles on Plymouth Hoe from Chris Robinson's shop on Plymouth Barbican. With its bright red and white stripes it looks very much like a stick of candy. Recently restored to its previous glory, a low metal door gives onto a mysterious spiral staircase. As it ascends, small rooms are revealed at intervals, which were formerly occupied by the lighthouse keepers as living area, kitchen and bedroom. These are quite fascinating as they still contain items of furniture and objects used for everyday living. At the very top is the pinnacle of the ascent, the lantern. Visitors can walk around the lantern and are close enough to touch it, and you can also peer down into the murky depths of the room below. A small balcony gives spectacular views over Plymouth Sound for those who have a head for heights.
After leaving Smeaton’s Tower, as you move nearer to the sea, steps give onto Grand Hoe Road, and you can stroll along by iron railings, looking out to sea. Below the railings, more steps give onto some enclosed and some open walkways which descend right down to the sea at certain points.
Tinside Pool is an original 1930’s outdoor lido swimming pool. Recently restored, the pool is semi-circular and is separated from the sea by just a wall. This unique location makes swimming here a truly memorable experience. Near to the lido are pictures of the pool being enjoyed in the 1930’s. This gives a sense of the way in which the lido has been part of the Plymouth experience for many years. A real treat for any fans of 1930s elegant Art Deco architecture.
Mount Edgcumbe can be seen from Plymouth. It is to the right of Drakes Island just across the River Tamar estuary. Mount Edgecumbe House is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. Set in Grade I Cornish Gardens within 865 acres Country Park on the Rame Peninsula, South East Cornwall. Whether you are searching for a venue for a family outing or group visit, enthused by the magnificent Grade I Cornish gardens and famous historic house, combining your visit with a cruise of the River Tamar, looking for a civil wedding venue or viewing the national collection of camellias you are invited to come and explore, enjoy, learn its history or even dream awhile.
Mount Edgcumbe House was first built in the 1500s and was restored after World War Two. It is jointly owned by Cornwall County Council and Plymouth City Council and is one of the regions most popular historic tourist destinations.The House and Earl's Garden (admission charged) is open Sunday to Thursday and Bank Holiday Monday between 11am and 4.30pm, 23 March to 30 September. Group bookings can also be arranged in March and October.The house is available for civil wedding and partnership ceremonies and conferences.
You can reach Mount Edgecumbe by the Cremyl Ferry which is about 15 minutes walk from the Guest House.