Mousehole is three miles westward around Mounts Bay from Penzance and is one of the most beautiful coastal villages in Britain. The photo left shows Mousehole in 1927, and it is much the same today. This small, unspoiled, fishing village has much to offer visitors of any age. It is a maze of granite and slate cottages, winding narrow streets and cobbled alleyways which have a magic and aesthetic all of their own. Virtually unchanged by time, it has remained unspoiled by the developments of the 20th Century and it continues to present the image of the classic Cornish fishing village of bygone days, its natural beauty and charm attracts many artists, so bring your paints! To read a personal account from an artist who has stayed in Mousehole, please click here.
Where is Mousehole? Click here to see a map.
The village, whose name is pronounced "Mowzel", is centred around a nearly circular harbour, with Cornwall's earliest breakwater begun in 1393, which protected the harbour from the force of the sea coming across Mounts Bay. The south arm of the harbour dates to 400AD and was said to be the embarkation point for pilgrims to Rome in the early days of Christianity. Today, the harbour forms a crescent with a sandy beach and a harbour arm at either end.
For walkers the famous National Trust cliff walk round the Land´s End Peninsula starts at Mousehole. One of its most beautiful stretches is from the village to Lamorna Cove to the south (2 miles), the Coastal Footpath continues on towards Penberth and Porthcurno. The whole walk is full of breathtaking scenery and the immediate and surrounding coastline is extremely beautiful being designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the National Trust. On the high ground above Mousehole is the village of Paul which is reached by a steep lane from Mousehole. Paul's handsome church of St Pol de Leon dominates the surrounding countryside and the village retains many of its old buildings including the popular King's Arms Inn.
Beaches, caves and islands
For small children there are two little beaches nestling at the base of each harbour wall (photos right and below), or the paddling pool made amongst the rocks on the other side of the village. The water is crystal clear as the paddling pool is changed by the tide. Just offshore outside the harbour is St Clement's Isle - a small rocky island where an ancient hermit was said to have lived. A few hundred yards along the coast from the village lies a huge cave which - so some people say - gives rise to the name of the village. In winter, the harbour entrance is closed by sturdy wooden beams to keep the force of the sea at bay and to protect the village. In past times, the villagers have suffered the effects of winter storms on their harbour and one of these events is commemorated annually shortly before Christmas on "Tom Bawcock's Eve" where a monstrous fish pie is baked and consumed, see this page for more information on Tom Bawcock and the famous Mousehole Christmas Lights.
Getting there and cars
While there is road access to Mousehole via Newlyn, car parking in the village itself is limited and the roads are very narrow. Visitors are encouraged to park on the outskirts of the village and to walk in. There is an excellent regular bus service from Penzance every twenty minutes or so along the coast, which offers you stunning views of Mounts Bay. It stops in Newlyn and goes right into the main line rail and coach stations in Penzance (£1.60 return).
Shops, restaurants and pubs
Mousehole has a local grocer, post office, a newsagent and a fine selection of craft and gift shops and small art galleries. There is a choice of tearooms (Cornish cream teas and fresh crab sandwiches!), some very good restaurants, a superb fish and chip shop and two pubs serving fine local beers. There is also a chapel.
A great place for lunch is the Old Coastguard Hotel, with stunning views and sub tropical gardens. They serve dishes like: Plaice & Smoked Bacon Kebab, with a Basil & Cherry Tomato Salad & Pesto Dressing £5.00, Smoked Haddock Fish Cake with Poached Salmon & a Lemon Butter Sauce, with a Mixed Leaf Salad Garnish £8.00. Or try the Cornish Range, dishes are created from local ingredients - the freshest of fish landed and delivered daily from the port of Newlyn; meat from the hill farms; Cornish vegetables and various salad ingredients; and the finest West Country cheeses. Try their Range Soup, Traditional Fish Soup with Rouille, Parmesan and Croutons £4.50, Slow Braised Spring Lamb Shank With Red Wine and Balsamic Vinegar and Scallion Potato Cakes £12.75, or their delicious Cappuccino Brulee With Kuhlùa Sabayon and Shortbread biscuits!
Penzance is about 3 miles away and has extensive shopping facilities plus cinema, pubs and restaurants.
The Mousehole Cat
The author Antonia Barber tells the story about the brave Mowzer who rescues her friend Tom and the lives of the people of Mousehole. The stunning pictures in the book have been drawn by Nicolas Bayley. This book was winner of the British Book Award - Illustrated Children's Book of the Year, is called "The Mousehole Cat" - Walker Books - ISBN 0-7445-2353-2 - UKL 4.99 - and it is a must-have for all children and cat-lovers! See an online version here.
Events and festivals
Mousehole is an active and vibrant community, and throughout the year residents hold events large and small. From a coffee morning to the school fete, what is going on that day is chalked up outside the shop. The mid July Sea Salts and Sail festival brings many beautiful original sailing craft to the harbour. It brings Cornish Male Voice Choirs and Brass Bands to perform on the harbour wall, and childrens activities are held on the beach. On the Sunday this year, the RNLB Mabel Alice visited and hosted an open air service. The regatta is held in late July.