Cornwall

A walk with a difference – from Penzance to Mousehole

If you’re holidaying in the west of Cornwall and after a walk with a difference, you’ll not find better than walking from Penzance to Mousehole through Newlyn – a walk of about three miles. Although perhaps not the prettiest section of the South West Coastal Path, it’s definitely one of the more interesting, giving a good insight into the bustling fishing industry of Newlyn, the vaguely Victorian feel of Penzance’s promenade and the history of Mousehole.

Determined to get some exercise after a busy week, we wanted a walk but with the weather looking a bit iffy, we didn’t want anything too remote just in case the heavens opened. The coast along from Penzance has always fascinated me, so we decided to park up in the town’s largest carpark on the front and walk to Mousehole, about three miles along the coast.

 Now, Penzance may not be as pretty as St Ives or as hip as Falmouth, but it has its own unique charm and is definitely having a resurgence at the moment. With a great selection of top-notch restaurants (check out Mermaid Alley, The Cornish Barn and Alverne to name but a few), the iconic Jubilee Pool (soon to be partly heated through a geothermal well), historic Chapel Street with great independent shops and quirky pubs (such as the Turk’s Head – the oldest in the town – and the Admiral Benbow – famed for being in the opening scene of the novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson), there’s plenty to see and do. Don’t be put off by it’s slightly down-at-heel feel – this is a town that’s on the up.

Walk along the front – over the little bridge that separates the outer harbour from the inner harbour, round past the ubiquitous meadery and shell shop, the front passes the gorgeous Jubilee Pool. Damaged a few years ago during the storms, it’s had a £3 million renovation and looks spectacular. Open from late May each year, you can still gawp at this stunning example of Art Deco design when it’s closed from the little café which is open from March onwards.

Carry on along the Promenade, this isn’t perhaps the prettiest stretch but has some gardens and children’s play areas. Instead, look out to sea and enjoy the gorgeous views. You’ll spot St Michael’s Mount in the distance and Newlyn and Mousehole in front of you.

Nowadays, Penzance and Newlyn kind of merge into each other, so soon enough you’ll find yourself in this bustling village. The bronze statue of a fisherman you’ll pass on route is dedicated to fishermen who have lost their lives at sea. Behind it is the prestigious Newlyn Art Gallery – well worth a visit if you have time. Newlyn is also home to Jelberts – a superb ice cream shop where it is made fresh daily (it contains no preservatives). They only make one type – vanilla – best adorned with a huge dollop of clotted cream.

Carry on around and you’ll pass the harbour, lined with several fishmongers selling the freshest of fresh fish – hauled in daily by the fishermen who dock across the road. One of the largest fishing ports in the UK, it’s been in constant use from the 15th century both as a fishing port and for importing and exporting goods. It also gave inspiration to the Newlyn School of Art, whose work can be seen in Penlee Art Gallery in neighbouring Penzance.

Pass the harbour and the road climbs up the hill and out of the village. This stretch of road is less inhabited and you’ll reach a point where you can either follow the road or drop down to a lower path, which lies closer to the water and re-joins the road further up. After a mile you’ll reach Mousehole, passing some interesting gardens en route (spot the scarecrows using reclaimed items found by the sea).

 At this point you’ll need some refreshment, so head to either Rock Pool Café (at the bottom of the main car park as you walk into the village) or Hole Food Deli, on the harbour front. Both serve great food and are perfect for a spot of lunch – Rock Pool Café tends to be quieter as it’s a little more tucked away but has fab views of the sea.

Take time to explore the narrow alleyways and roads of this ancient village, popping in to the galleries and shops for a spot of retail therapy. If the tide is out, the beach is lovely and sandy so cool tired feet with a paddle in the sea of just find a sunny spot for a quiet moment or two.

You can then either re-tread your steps back into Penzance, or there’s a handy shuttle bus that you can pick up on the harbour front that runs every 20 minutes or so that will drop you back into the town centre.

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