Cornwall Life Steps out in Penzance, Newlyn & Mousehole

PUBLISHED: 12:47 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 18:11 20 February 2013

Lyn Norman and Rachel Smith

Lyn Norman and Rachel Smith

This busy and bustling corner of Cornwall has fishing, boats and art at its heart, writes Lesley Double

This busy and bustling corner of Cornwall has fishing, boats and art at its heart, writes Lesley Double

Situated on the westernmost edge of Mounts Bay, Penzance and Newlyn are good harbours for the many commercial and leisure boats moored there. Right on the edge of the bay, Mousehole is less protected but still has a harbour that shelters smaller fishing boats. Fishing is a main industry in this area, being worth several million pounds each year to the Cornish economy, and it also has a flourishing tourist industry.

So close, side by side, these three towns are very different one from another. Penzance is the largest, the main centre for shopping and travel,
and its history, spanning many centuries, shows in the differing architecture that is seen everywhere. With 40 acres of harbour, Newlyn is one of the largest and most important fishing ports in southern England, and during the early 20th century was the base for the famous Newlyn School of Artists. Picturesque Mousehole is a lively tourist attraction with narrow winding lanes and chocolate-box houses clustered along the cliffs and round its tiny harbour.

Get off to a good start

Whether you arrive by road, rail or air, the first thing you will see is St Michaels Mount, rising majestically, and if there is a sea mist it can sometimes appear rather eerily out in the bay. Penzance railway station, bus station and a large car park stand alongside the Tourist Information Centre, as does the Sustrans Cycle Path, so this is probably the best place to start your visit. This car park is conveniently next to the harbour, with the entrance to the main shopping centre on the other side of the road. There are a couple of car parks in Newlyn and Mousehole and you can also park alongside the fish market in Newlyn, outside market hours of course.

Why visit now?

Many hotels and guest houses welcome visitors between summer and Christmas with special deals. Gardens and parks are showing their autumn colours and it is interesting to see how many different plants are still blooming in this temperate climate. Spend some time in the numerous art galleries such as Newlyn Art Gallery, the Exchange in Penzance, and dozens of smaller galleries in all three towns. Penlee House Gallery and Museum is holding an exhibition called Sea Change, which runs until 20 November and shows the extraordinary diversity of art in St Ives between 1914 and 1930.

Dont miss

There are several events to celebrate Bonfire Night on 5 November. Theres the annual Rotary Fireworks Display at Penzance Football Club, Penlee Park includes a hog roast, and the fireworks at Mousehole Harbour South Pier can be viewed from anywhere in the town. On 20 and 21 November, Trereife Park on the outskirts of Penzance on the A30, is holding a Christmas Gift Fair which includes art, craft, food and an old-fashioned fairground. Go home with all your Christmas presents!

Treat yourself

The Old Coastguard Hotel in Mousehole has possibly one of the best views across Mounts Bay. Most of the rooms, including the restaurant, have sea views and the sub-tropical gardens lead enticingly down to the shore. The hotel has a selection of autumn offers to tempt you to stay for a few days, a night or just for lunch. Take a romantic break and enjoy sipping champagne, tasting the homemade chocolates and being served breakfast in bed, and there are complimentary cream teas and evening meals available too.

Go green

Join the many people who spend their time, whether by day or evening, walking along the promenade between Penzance and Newlyn. With the Jubilee Swimming Pool at one end and the Newlyn Art Gallery at the other, the promenade passes several gardens, a bowling green, and various cafs, restaurants and hotels. There are plenty of seats where you can rest and admire the view. If this is too slow a pace, hire a bike and use the Sustrans cycle path. Its fairly flat here, and you can get from Newlyn to Marazion and onwards, quite easily.
Marazion Marsh is an RSPB Reserve between Penzance and Marazion. Sometimes, between October and December, it is home to more starlings than you can possibly count, who fly out to their feeding grounds in the morning and return at dusk in a great swirling cloud; their aerial acrobatics are a sight worth seeing.

Enjoy the view

One of the best views of the three towns has surely to be from the water. The Scillonian III runs from the harbour to the Isles of Scilly, and you will get a wonderful view of Mounts Bay as you pull out from Penzance and pass Newlyn and Mousehole. If you dont want to be out all day, take a boat trip available from Wharf Road, near to the dry docks and Ross Bridge. St Michaels Mount looks wonderful from the land, but a visit to the Mount and Castle is good too, and the views back towards Penzance give a totally different perspective.

Whats On

Penzance Farmers Market takes place in St Johns Hall in the winter and celebrates the Montol festival in December, which involves music, stalls and drama.
Mouseholes Tom Bawcocks Eve on 21 December centres round the Ship Inn and Stargazey Pie.

Lyn Norman and Rachel Smith

Lyn lives in Gulval and Rachel near Germoe. Rachel and I meet up in Penzance once a week, explains Lyn. I come into town regularly though. Its handy for me, it has a nice variety of shops and everyone is so friendly.
Germoe is six miles from Penzance, but I come here a lot, says Rachel. I sing in a choir thats based in Penzance and Im also a member of Penzance Canoe Club.

Sue Varlow

Sue has lived in Mousehole for the last 26 years. My husband, Rod, and our family, moved here from the Midlands. Its where our children grew up and they still think of it as home, says Sue. Mousehole is a lovely place, theres always something going on. We are very lucky to live here and our house has wonderful views over Mounts Bay. Weve thought about down-sizing, but quite honestly we cant imagine living anywhere else.

How to get there:

Penzance is on the A30, which runs through Cornwall from Launceston at one end to Lands End at the other, with both Newlyn and Mousehole easily accessible from this main road. Penzance is the end of the line for the railway from London. The Isles of Scilly can be reached by helicopter from Penzance Heliport on the edge of the town or by ferry from the harbour.

For further information contact Penzance
Tourist Information Centre, Station
Approach, Penzance, TR18 2NF.
01736 362207

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