Mevagissey; a safe harbour
Narrow streets and steep valley sides lead you down to the centre of the old Mevagissey, where the distinctive twin harbour provides a safe haven for the fishing boats that land their daily catch of skate, lobster, plaice and sole. Mevagissey was built on fish, in the 1800s and early 1900s it prospered on the back of the abundant source of pilchards (sardines) caught in local waters. To get a better idea of what fish can be found beneath the waves, and see them alive, visit the aquarium housed in the former lifeboat station on the quayside.
Named after two Irish saints, St Meva and St Issey, the village dates back to at least the early 14th Century. Much more of its history can be discovered in the village’s museum. Nowadays, pubs, galleries and shops huddle around the harbour walls and line the maze of pretty streets, where you’ll also find plenty of seafood restaurants that the village is renowned for. There is nothing more sublimely Cornish than tucking into some local scallops or mackerel on the quayside, washed down with a pint…
Without a beach of its own, the nearest sand can be found at Portmellon, just around the headland to the south of Mevagissey, but even this is only at low tide. The best bet is to travel to either Gorran Haven or Pentewan, each about three miles away to the south and north respectively.
If you’re not to bothered about sitting on a beach, then a short bus trip, or a good walk, will take you to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Locals will tell you how it was never ‘lost’ to them, but its famous restoration, after decades of neglect, has uncovered and created one of the UKs finest gardens, briming with an amazing array of sub-tropical flowers, trees and plants. The gardens are ever changing and worth a visit anytime of the year.
A little further away, and only open in the spring, the gardens at Caerhays Castle to the west of Mevagissey are a feast of colour and sit behind one of the finest beaches in the area. Beyond Caerhays, the Roseland peninsular can be explored via a maze of narrow lanes, all the way down to St Mawes.
Back in the harbour, the tide has come in again, the day trippers have gone and it’s time to walk out along the harbour wall with the lights of the village twinkling on the water, the boats returning from a day at sea and the cry of the gulls.