On the south coast of Cornwall, almost due south of St Austell, is the pretty little fishing village of Mevagissey. A number of the buildings are still made of cob (lumps of soil mixed with straw and sand) and slate and the streets are narrow. Mevagissey is, in many ways, the same as it was hundreds of years ago.
About the Village
The village name is made up of the names of two saints, St Meva and St Issey. It is still a working harbour, so if you are up early enough, you can see the fishing boats coming back in. As you would expect in a fishing village, there are plenty of fish and chip shops and restaurants where you can get fresh fish. Some of the restaurants also source their meat from the local farms, and I can tell you from personal knowledge that it is very, very good.
There is a coastal footpath – although it is steep in places, it is worth it for the views. Walk up to Polkirt Hill for the absolutely stunning view over the ocean and of the village. When the weather is good, you can see over to St Austell Bay. If you interested in sea fishing, Mevagissey is a good place to do it – it’s easy to charter a boat and people will be willing to help you find what you want if you are new to this.
At the end of every June, Feast Week takes place, during which various types of entertainment and street dancing take place. It’s good fun, if you happen to be staying in the area at the time. There is a folk museum, an aquarium (in the old lifeboat house) and a railway exhibition.
There are inner and outer harbours at Mevagissey. The inner harbour, which is surrounded by shops and restaurants, dates back to 1774 and the outer harbour dates back to 1888. (Mevagissey Harbour is a bit like a tea cup with a cookie dipped in it, and the inner harbour protects the part of the tea cup to the left of the cookie.) The outer harbour protects the whole of the harbour – this part of the coastline is subject to easterly gales at certain times of year. In 1891, a blizzard storm washed away the outer harbour walls, but by 1897 they had been rebuilt. Remember, it’s a working harbour, so, unsurprisingly, the water is quite deep, or, when the tide is out, the drop to the sand below is a long way down. So exercise caution.
This part of Cornwall is great because so many places of interest and attractions are close by. The lovely Lost Gardens of Heligan are not far away, as is Caerhays Castle and Gardens. Both of these are beautiful places to visit; I wholeheartedly recommend them.
A ferry runs from Mevagissey to Fowey, another fishing port further down the coast and trains run to St Austell, from where you can pick up a bus to Mevagissey.
Mevagissey photo by Olaf Tausch