Kenny’s 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

Fishing has always been central to Cornwall's culture and economy. Pilchard fishing dominated the 18th and 19th centuries, and now in the 21st restaurants are serving locally sourced lobster and crab to visitors on their self catering Cornwall breaks.

In my opinion there is no better way to take in the county than to visit these unique fishing villages that brim with history - from the remote and medieval Boscastle, to the sweeping sands of Sennen Cove.

Here I have put together my 5 must-visit fishing villages that can be explored from your holiday homes in Cornwall.

 

Boscastle

Boscastle is a small fishing port with a natural harbour situated 15 miles from Widemouth Bay Holiday Park.

Boscastle | 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

The picturesque village is one of the few remaining unspoilt harbours in Cornwall and lies on a stunning stretch of coastline within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The harbour was once a thriving port with trade taking place between Bristol, Wales and South England. Now it’s a tranquil home for smaller fishing boats.

Boscastle was hit by flash floods in 2004 which caused devastating damage, particularly to the traditional thatched cottages that line the village. Thankfully these were rescued and rebuilt along with more modern residential buildings.

The National Trust own most of the land in and around Boscastle, much of which is steeped in medieval history. If you follow the path inland through the valley you’ll discover several churches which reveal the connection between North Cornwall and Thomas Hardy.

 

Mousehole

Located between Land's End and Kenegie Manor is Mousehole.

Mousehole | 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

100 years ago Mousehole was a bustling port, full with pilchard fishing boats. Although there are a few boats maintaining the village’s fishing heritage today, the majority anchored are for hobby rather than work.

The harbour shelters a small, safe beach popular with tourists and families.

Often described as one of the most attractive villages in the UK, the maze of narrow streets are lined with restaurants, galleries, shops and fisherman’s cottages.

Every year in early November, sturdy wooden beams are laid across the narrow harbour entrance to protect the village from the force of the sea. A pre-Christmas event celebrates a local hero – Tom Bawcock – who braved these dangerously stormy seas to bring back fish for his starving villagers.

 

Polperro

Visitors to Killigarth Manor Holiday Park only a mile and a half from the picture-postcard fishing village of Polperro.

Polperro | 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

Lying just south of Loo, Polperro boasts an idyllic location surrounded by tightly packed cottages and narrow streets. Cars are banned during the summer, but there are trams and a horse-drawn carriage available for those who prefer not to walk from the car park.

Polperro has an infamous history of spirit and tobacco smuggling which can be learnt in the Heritage Museum overlooking the harbour. Smuggling eventually died out in the 19th century when revenue officers started to patrol the coast via the South West Coast path.

Despite only having only 14 boats in its fleet, the village is still famous for its wonderful seafood and nearby restaurants and cafes serve local catch with an unrivalled view.

 

Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove is one of the most popular stretches of beach in the whole of Cornwall and is situated 15 minutes west of Kenegie Manor.

Sennen Cove | 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

Despite being a top surfing spot, the bay still retains a traditional fishing village atmosphere.

The harbour - which is overlooked by thatched cottages, the lifeboat station and a 19th century roundhouse - still occupies working fishing boats.

Watch the summer sunset over this beautiful fishing village from the 17th century Old Success Inn.

 

Charlestown

A mile outside of St Austell and 40 minutes from Killigarth Manor Holiday Park is Charlestown, an unspoilt Georgian ‘new town’.

Charlestown | 5 must-visit Cornish fishing villages

Charlestown was built between 1790 and 1810 for the import of coal and export of copper and china clay – the latter is still being exported today.

The village was initially known as West Polmear, with a population of only 9 and a small fishing fleet that used the beach as a harbour. The pier was then constructed to provide shelter for the fleet and a basin was cut allowing sailing ships in. Roads were built to transport the cargo and warehouses were erected harbourside for boatbuilding, pilchard curing and rope-making.

The harbour is now owned by Square Sail and used a base for their tall ships. If you visit, you’ll usually find at least one of these historic ships moored up.