Why not tour the Top Fishing Villages in Cornwall a VW camper van next year? Take a tour around the county of Cornwall and visit the many and varied fishing villages situated along the coastline. From the remote and windswept Boscastle to the sheltered Charlestown, home to its very own fleet of tall ships, here are ten of the very best fishing villages to help you experience Cornwall’s vibrant fishing heritage.
Boscastle SAT NAV PL35 0HA
Boscastle is a tiny port with a natural harbour situated on an exceptionally beautiful stretch of coastline five miles north of Tintagel. In 2004, dramatic floods caused untold damage to the tiny settlement, most of which is owned by the National Trust. Most of the Boscastle’s trademark thatched and whitewashed cottages have been rescued and rebuilt, along with the Witchcraft Museum, which offers a ghoulish look at Cornwall’s dark side. Boat trips depart from the harbour for Long Island, where Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins can be spotted.
Mevagissey SAT NAV PL2 6 6SB
Mevagissey was once the centre of Cornwall’s pilchard fishing industry and the old cob and slate buildings bear testimony to a time when large shoals of pilchards were the livelihood of the whole village. Mevagissey still has a working harbour, with a few dozen small fishing boats and a ferry to the nearby port of Fowey. Fishing trips are available from the quay, where there is a car park, although Mevagissey’s streets are extremely narrow and it is probably safer to park at the top of the village and walk down! There are numerous gift shops, craft workshops, galleries, cafes, pubs and fish restaurants in the village.
Mousehole SAT NAV TR19 6RS
Mousehole is located between Land’s End and Penzance and is a charming place of narrow streets and tiny granite cottages huddled around a working harbour filled with small wooden fishing boats. Each year in early November timber beams are laid across the narrow harbour entrance to protect it from storms, although waves can still often be seen breaking over the harbour wall at high tide. Visitors flock to Mousehole in December to see the Christmas lights, which are famous throughout Cornwall.
Port Isaac SAT NAV PL29 3RG
Port Isaac, on the north coast near Padstow, has been a working fishing village since the early fourteenth century. The picturesque mix of granite and slate-fronted houses, narrow winding streets and stunning, wave-battered coastline led to Port Isaac being chosen as the main location for the hit television series, ‘Poldark’ and ‘Doc Martin’. Fishing and sightseeing trips are available from the harbour, which features a shingle beach. There are several more attractive sandy beaches within a short distance, including Polzeath, which is popular with surfers, and Daymer Bay, which is ideal for families.
Polperro SAT NAV PL13 2QY
Just south of Looe lies the much smaller Polperro, a charming, picture-postcard village. The narrow streets, lined with pretty granite cottages, are banned to cars in Summer, although the exceptionally attractive harbour can be visited via a horse-drawn carriage from the main car park at the top of the village. Polperro’s notorious smuggling history is well-documented by the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. Sightseeing boats leave regularly for trips along the coast towards Fowey, and a couple of natural rock pools offer safe swimming at high tide.
Cadgwith SAT NAV TR12 7JX
Cadgwith is a very pretty fishing village between Lizard and Coverack. Inhabited since the sixteenth century, Cadgwith still has some original local stone and thatch houses. There are two beaches, separated at high tide by a small headland known as ‘The Todden’. Deep-sea diving excursions to offshore wrecks known as The Craggan and The Boa are popular, as is the Cadgwith Cove Inn, thought to be more than four hundred years old.
Sennen Cove SAT NAV TR19 7DG
Sennen Cove has one of the loveliest stretches of sand in Cornwall and is hugely popular with surfers and beach lovers, yet somehow still manages to retain the atmosphere of an authentic old fishing village. A steep road leads past the beach and along the waterfront to a small working harbour backed by thatched cottages, a lifeboat station and a fascinating nineteenth century roundhouse, now run as a gallery. A couple of cafes and shops sell everything from surf wax to fish and chips, while the seventeenth century Old Success Inn, with views out over the west-facing bay, is an excellent place to watch the sunset.
Mullion SAT NAV TR12 7LJ
Mullion is the largest village on the Lizard, with shops, inns, cafes, restaurants, galleries, a golf course and a dramatic fishing cove with an attractive working harbour. The stout sea walls, built to protect the cove from ferocious winter gales, were completed in 1895 when pilchard fishing was the main local industry. The nearby Poldhu Cove, backed by sand dunes, is an ideal family beach, while a circular walk along the cliffs and back through Predannack Heath takes in the sandy Pollurian Cove, popular with surfers.
Charlestown SAT NAV PL25 3NJ
Charlestown, near St Austell, is a uniquely unspoilt example of a late Georgian working port. The mix of fishermen’s cottages and period houses, together with a fleet of tall ships, at least one of which is usually moored in the harbour, have helped to put Charlestown on the map as a location for popular film and television series including Poldark, Hornblower and Mansfield Park.
The picturesque village of Portscatho lies in the south west corner of Gerrans Bay on the Roseland peninsula. Originally home to a thriving pilchard fishery, Portscatho is still a working fishing port, thanks in large part to its sheltered east-facing location, which protects it from the brunt of the prevailing south-westerly winds. There is safe swimming in the cove itself and many fine sandy beaches close by, including Porthcurnick Sands, a twenty minute walk north along the cliffs and owned by the National Trust. A short walk in the other direction will bring you to St Anthony Head, whose lighthouse was used in the television series ‘Fraggle Rock’.