Work, Rest and Play: Looe, Fowey, Polperro
PUBLISHED: 21:32 13 June 2013 | UPDATED: 22:19 13 June 2013
Nestled on the banks of the Cornish Riviera, Looe, Fowey and Polperro embrace three core elements of Cornwall's lifestyle: art, fishing and watersports, says Hayley Spurway
A historic seafaring town on the Saints Way, Fowey stands out as the sailing mecca of the fishing and watersports, and is also a commercial port from where china clay is shipped around the world. Hoist the sails or meander along the river in kayak, hunker down in a plethora of riverside cafés and restaurants, or loosen your purse strings in boutiques that line the cobbled streets. Once the home of Cornwall’s most famous author, each year the Fowey Festival of Music and Words celebrates the work of Daphne du Maurier and the landscapes that influenced her novels.
Still very much a fishing port, Looe is famous for its abundance of waterside eateries serving up fresh local catch. You can even try catching your own dinner with a hand line off the harbour wall, or head out on a mackerel fishing trip. However, it’s not all about fish and food – Looe is also a bustling seaside town with beaches, a pier and masses of tourist entertainment from sandcastle building to boat trips to St George’s Island.
The smallest of the trio, Polperro is a harbour village where fishermen’s cottages tumble down narrow streets to the sea. Arrive by tram and stroll the traffic-free streets, stop for a fresh crab sandwich or set foot on the coastal footpaths fanning out along the cliffs.
Paul Reynolds is a primate keeper and educational officer at The Monkey Sanctuary near Looe. “My day-to-day role includes feeding and cleaning out the monkeys, and looking after their healthcare and dietary needs. When we’re open to the public I talk to people about the monkeys, the pet trade and local conservation, and I also go to schools and universities to give talks.
“The Monkey Sanctuary was set up in 1964 by Len Williams. Originally we rescued Woolly Monkeys, but now – in the modern primate trade – it’s more the capuchins that we re-home. Here we’ve got a large (and beautiful) piece of land that’s perfect for the monkeys. Their houses are heated, so on cold winter’s days they can choose to spend more of their time inside.
“The best thing about working here is that the monkeys are fascinating and interesting. Primates are in the same group as humans. A capuchin has the same mental age as a four year-old but each individual monkey has its own set of likes, dislikes and level of temperament. The monkeys here have come from some pretty horrible conditions, so to know that we’ve been able to give them a much better life is rewarding. They come here with a whole host of physical and mental problems and it’s up to us to heal them as much as possible.
“People can adopt of any of our monkeys. The money goes towards the upkeep of the primates and ensures the sanctuary can keep functioning.”
The Monkey Sanctuary, Murrayton House, St Martins, Looe PL13 1NZ
0844 272 1271
Stephen Waite is manager of the Talland Bay Hotel, situated between Polperro and Looe. “The hotel is all about relaxation. It’s quite quirky and luxurious.
“All the 22 rooms are individually decorated – there’s a roll-top bath in one, a sleigh bed in another – and there’s lots of artwork in the rooms and around the gardens. The owner is an art collector and gets a lot pieces from local artists, such as the fairy sculptures that are made by an artist in Fowey.
“Our restaurants are open to non-residents, and attract the sort of people looking for somewhere to dine on a special occasion. Our Sunday lunches are also very popular. The fine dining restaurant has been awarded two rosettes, and in the conservatory we sell a brasserie-style menu.
“We don’t have any leisure facilities as such, other than the bar and lounge area. It’s not that sort of hotel. It’s about enjoying the views, the grounds and the walks. It’s a short walk down to the beautiful Talland Bay beach where you can pick up the South West Coast Path – it’s less than two miles’ (45-minutes) walk to Polperro, or 3.5 miles to Looe (one to one-and-a-half hours). We’re also a very central location for people looking to visit Cornwall’s gardens.
“We won best small hotel in Cornwall last year, and came second in the whole of the South West.
Talland Bay Hotel, Porthallow PL13 2JB tallandbayhotel.co.uk
Lynn Shillito owns The Polkerris Beach Company with husband Bob and son George. “The best thing about working on the beach is that we’re always out in the fresh air and see the seasons come and go in a fantastic setting. The vast majority of people coming to the beach do so because they simply want to have a nice time so, by and large, it’s a very happy place to work.
“Polkerris Beach is about two miles from Fowey. Here we have a watersports centre, a beach shop, the Polkadot cafe and a small caravan park (beachsidecaravans.com).
“We’ve spent the last 30 years taking holidays in Cornwall and enjoying watersports as a family. Bob and George are windsurfing fanatics, so when we saw the beach up for sale we felt it was a wonderful (if somewhat daunting) opportunity. We know how to have a good time on a beach and wanted other people to get out on the water and have a good time as well.”
“Polkerris is a perfect beach for learning watersports as there is very little boat traffic on the water and virtually no tidal current. It is a gently shelving beach with soft sand: ideal for learning to windsurf or sail.
”Sailing is currently the most popular watersport we offer. Children from several local primary schools come sailing in term time, and when school finishes our attention turns to the holidaymakers. Kayak hire is also very popular as it is inexpensive and simple.
This year we’re raising money for Marie Curie by holding a fun one-mile swim –the ‘Polkerris Beach Pirate Swim 2013’ – on Bank Holiday Monday 26 August.
The Polkerris Beach Company, Polkerris Beach, nr Fowey
01726 813306 / polkerrisbeach.com