Cornwall LivingExplore Roseland
There are few Cornish sights more colourful than the harbour at Mevagissey. Dig a little deeper into this unassuming fishing village and you’ll discover a colourful history and a vibrant present.
Enjoy a walk around the harbour at Mevagissey and you’re in for a treat. Brightly coloured boats bob in the water and coloured buildings climb the valley on three sides.
The narrow, medieval streets here are home to many artists studios and galleries, craft workshops, independent boutiques and lots of excellent places to grab a bite to eat. Many of the buildings you’ll pass are made form traditional cob and slate and would once have been the haunts of smugglers. Step into one of the older pubs like the Ship Inn and it’s easy to imagine plans of plunder taking place in secretive corners. You can discover more about the intriguing story of this remarkable little village at the town museum on the harbourside.
“Many of the buildings you’ll pass are made form traditional cob and slate and would once have been the haunts of smugglers”
Children will love the aquarium in the Old Lifeboat House – stocked with native species of fish. And visitors young and old are always fascinated by the model trains whizzing past miniature houses and through scenes including an alpine village and a Cornish tin mine at the World of Model Railways.
Pilchards were once responsible of the livelihood of the entire village, and today you’ll still find a small fishing fleet working from the harbour and bringing back a daily catch. Take to the water yourself on one of the many sightseeing or fishing boats, offering the chance to explore the stunning coastline or to indulge in some sea angling and maybe bringing home your own fish dinner.
If you come back empty-handed, or catching your own is not your style, don’t worry, there are plenty of excellent places providing food, from locally landed seafood to proper Cornish afternoon tea.
Sample Cornish produce with an American twist at The Sharksfin, a relaxed and stylish restaurant with amazing harbour views (they do some lovely cocktails too). For breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea seek out the River Street Café on Market Square. Ruth and her team always have handmade comfort food on the menu and we’re big fans of their rump steak sandwich served with divine homemade onion marmalade. The afternoon teas provide a welcome afternoon sit down too – choose from sweet or savoury depending on your mood.
In the evening we heartily recommend a walk around the moonlit harbour. The lights playing on the water make this a romantic way to round off your day. And be sure to come back in December when the Christmas lights are a well-known and well-loved attraction.
Mevagissey Feast Week
In June the town pulls out all the stops for Mevagissey Feast Week. This celebration of the Feast of St Peter – the patron Saint of fishermen – has been celebrated here continually since 1754, making it the longest surviving festival in Cornwall.
Today it’s a wonderful, friendly event with boat and raft races, choirs, exhibitions, demos, concerts and ceilidhs and lots of fish dishes to eat. The festival ends with a colourful carnival parade through the town and a huge firework display out over the harbour.
Well located for Cornish adventures
In Mevagissey you’re perfectly placed to enjoy many of Conwall’s top attractions. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are perched on the hillside here and you’re just five minutes drive from St Austell and the Eden Project. Or take a 30-minute ferry ride to Fowey and see if you can spot any seals basking on the rocks or dolphins playing in the waves during your journey.
There are also a good number of excellent beaches within easy reach along this stretch of coast including the sandy beach of Pentewan (popular for watersports) and the smaller cove of Portmellon, where dogs are allowed all year. Accessible only via the coastal path and around 200 steps down, Polstreath Beach is well worth a visit. It’s only about a quarter of a mile up the coast from Mevagissey but stays relatively quiet because of the tricky access. If you fancy a dip there are few better places than Gorran Haven where the waters are clear and safe. The whole coastline here is popular with fossil hunters and has interesting geology.
You can even enjoy a glass of local wine at Polmassick Vineyard. Take a tour to find out more about how they’ve been growing grapes and turning them into consistently good vintages for more than 30 years.
"Many of the buildings you’ll pass are made form traditional cob and slate and would once have been the haunts of smugglers"