Described by Dylan Thomas as “the loveliest village in England”, Mousehole is indeed arguably one of the most beautiful parishes in Cornwall. The tiny fishing village (pronounced ‘Mowzel’) is centred around a picturesque harbour - from where fishing boats still sail - and with narrow, cobbled streets, higgledy-piggledy cottages and quirky old inns and galleries, is characteristically Cornish. Escape to a time gone by and spend a week or two relaxing on the beach, catching fish for the barbecue and catching up with friends over dinner by the sea.
A Brief History
For a tiny place, Mousehole has a long and interesting history! In 1595 the whole village was burnt to the ground by invading Spaniards – with the exception of one house, which still stands today. It has also always been a very important fishing port; indeed Mousehole’s quay is thought to be the oldest in Cornwall, dating back to 1390. Whilst the fishing industry has declined significantly over the last hundred years, visitors to Mousehole will still see a few little fishing boats coming and going during their stay.
Mousehole was also the home of Dolly Pentreath, the last person to speak solely Cornish (not English), and today, a memorial to Dolly stands in the churchyard at Paul, just outside Mousehole.
Many people have heard the tragic tale of the Solomon Brown, the Penlee lifeboat which was sent out from Mousehole to rescue the crew of the Union Star just before Christmas in 1981. Sadly, the storm was too fierce and all those on board both the Union Star and the Solomon Brown perished. To remember the bravery and lives of the Solomon Brown crew, Mousehole’s Christmas lights are dimmed for one hour at 8pm each December the 19th.
Points of Interest
Mousehole is home to a number of galleries, gift shops, restaurants and inns – all clustered round the main focal point of the village, its harbour. At low tide, a small beach appears in the harbour – which is very popular with families as it is so sheltered.
Just outside the village, on the road to Lamorna, is Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital. Founded in 1928, the hospital became well-known for its involvement in the 1960s Torrey Canyon, when more than 8000 coastal birds suffered the effects of spilled oil.
Cormorant Cruising offer sight-seeing boat trips out of Mousehole, down to Land’s End, around St Michael’s Mount and up towards Newlyn. See if you can spot the local seals and dolphins – or even the odd basking shark!
Don’t miss Dolly Pentreath’s house, marked with a plaque, as you walk from the car park towards the harbour – and of course, the numerous coastal footpaths which wind their way up out of the village and along the shoreline towards Newlyn and Penzance in one direction, and Lamorna and Porthcurno in the other.
There are just a handful of shops in Mousehole – including several gift and arts & crafts shops. There are also a couple of convenience stores selling basic provisions and newspapers.
For fresh local produce, though, we recommend getting along to either Penzance or Sennen Farmers’ Markets – held on Friday mornings and Tuesday mornings respectively.
Where to Eat
There are some fantastic places to eat out in Mousehole. Our favourites have to be The Old Coastguard Hotel with bar and restaurant overlooking the sea, 2 Fore Street with its continental vibe, the very cute little Rock Pool Café and The Ship Inn right on the harbour – the perfect spot for a cosy winter evening tipple!
One thing you have to do when in Mousehole, though, is to get a bag of chips from Janners Fish & Chips, and to eat them on the harbour wall - a lovely way to watch the world go by on a summer's evening!
December in Mousehole is magical – with one of the most famous Christmas lights displays in the region. The entire village is illuminated with an ever-growing collection of festive lights, including the Loch Ness monster, a stargazy pie and fishing boats which sit on the water in the harbour. There is an official ‘switch-on’ with carol singing, a local silver band and hot chestnuts – but remember that each December 19th the lights are dimmed for an hour in honour of the Solomon Brown crew.
Also in December is Tom Bawcock’s Eve, held on the 23rd. Tom Bawcock was a local fisherman who braved the winter seas to catch fish for the villagers, saving them all from famine. To commemorate Tom’s bravery, each year the village holds a lantern procession before everyone congregates at the Ship Inn for some stargazy pie – an interesting fish pie with the fishes’ heads sticking out through the crust!
Other events in Mousehole include the annual Carnival, held in the middle of August each year, the Lifeboat Day at the end of August, and various male voice choir concerts throughout the summer.
There are three car parks in Mousehole, however these do fill up very quickly in the summer and also during December when the Christmas lights are on. The car park on the left as you enter the village from Penzance is pay and display; there are also two harbour authority car parks (one on the north quay and one on the south quay) which are manned by attendants.
ATMs & Banks
There are no banks in Mousehole, and the only ATM is located in the Ship Inn (please note, this machine charges for withdrawals). The nearest banks and free-to-use ATMs can be found in Penzance (around 3.5 miles away).
There is one set of public toilets in Mousehole, just next to the harbour.
Image credits to: The Old Coastguard Hotel and Mousehole Harbour Lights
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Envisage a cottage for that romantic get-away in the mesmeric location of Mousehole with its almost classic, time-stopping appeal of quaint stone wall harbour, intimate restaurants and traditional inns. Honeysuckle Cottage is an enchanting cosy ...