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10 of the Prettiest Villages in Cornwall

Port Isaac in Cornwall

Port Isaac in Cornwall - Image by member Tony Winfield (view gallery)

Cornwall has an abundance of picturesque Villages to explore. Here we list just 10 of prettiest Villages for you to enjoy, with links to more about them and accommodation if you're looking to plan a visit.

1. Boscastle, Cornwall

Boscastle - Atlantic View ( August 2007 )

Boscastle - Atlantic View ( August 2007 ) - Image by member Michael Page (view gallery)

Boscastle is favoured with the only natural harbour along a rugged rock strewn twenty mile stretch of North Cornish Coast. Today, it functions as a holiday resort but for hundreds of years it operated as a busy port. All that though, came to an end with the arrival of the railways and it is since then the town has steadily built up its welcoming reputation.

Visitors flock from all parts and at every season of the year. In Spring and Autumn the lovely Valency Valley is a riot of colour, nature works her magic, plants and flowers come into bloom surrounded by trees showing fresh green buds whose leaves later turn to vibrant orange, red and gold. Along from the seafront, picturesque properties cling haphazardly around the estuary making a glorious mixture of whitewash, stone and slate. The High Street is dominated by ancient inns, shops and galleries to browse, a Witches Museum to explore and even a former watermill can be seen in the town.

Stunning sea views from the Valley of the Rocks nearby, are made more memorable when the mist swirls above while a storm tossed sea beats relentlessly against stark jagged cliffs. Come the sun and you gaze down on rich blue waters lazily lapping golden sandy coves and pleasant beaches - so diverse is the scenery around this special place. There are fascinating boat trips along the coast were during the breeding season there is an exciting mix of wild seabirds to be seen. For the fortunate few there may be the occasional sighting of a puffin or a seal. Another exciting sea excursion is a deep sea fishing trip - the boat takes you 5 miles out to sea, not only is the fishing good but so are the coastal views as the boat returns to harbour. For the less adventurous Boscastle offers lovely walks along the estuary, over golden sands, around the pretty harbour and along glorious coastal footpaths that wind upwards over lofty cliffs.

There several nearby places of interest; beautiful Bossiney Bay has a long sandy beach that is popular with surfers, Tintagel is thought to be the legendry seat of King Arthur, a little way inland lies Delabole, the third highest village in North Cornwall, it is good walking country and is the scene of a huge old slate quarry. Port Isaac is an interesting fishing village where boats, nets and lobster pots often crowd the busy little harbour.

Places to visit include: North Cornwall Museum at Camelford, Longcross Victorian Garden at Port Isaac, the Church of St.Juliot inland from Boscastle, Delabole Slate Quarry, the Tamar Otter Sanctuary, enjoy the rivers Valency and Jordan, visit Boscastle's ancient church - set on the delightful Valency River or take a fishing trip from Boscastle Harbour.


2. Port Issac, Cornwall

Port Isaac in Cornwall

Port Isaac in Cornwall - Image by member Tony Winfield (view gallery)

The Port Isaac of the 21st century is perhaps best known as the coastal village associated with the Television series "Doc Martin". In the 20th century it was featured in "Poldark" and "Nightmare Man" and it has been further seen in the Film "Saving Grace". Not bad for a busy little port known from the Middle Ages to the 19th century only as a place from which stone, coal, timber and pottery were loaded and unloaded at its quayside.

Port Isaac offers visitors many rich experiences from strolls around its ancient streets and narrow alleys criss-crossing the hillside, to simply standing on the top of a cliff watching the foaming waves of the changing tide. As you walk around the village you will be quick to note the number of picturesque old fishermen's cottages from the 18th and 19th centuries, some of these are now listed as being of architectural merit and are still lived in, or used as holiday cottages.

Colourful, flower filled walkways lead to the harbour, a pleasant place to wander where you will often see a local fisherman landing his catch of fish or lobster. Also, at the harbour you can book a sea fishing trip or a scenic cruise to see the magical Cornish coastline at distance from the sea. Lober Point is a local beauty spot with fine coast and sea views, from here a cliff top path leads to Pine Haven, a secluded rock and shingle cove.

The resort offers a range of activities, these include horse riding from a nearby stable, cycling (bikes can be hired in the village), and Polzeath, some four miles away offers one of the best surfing beaches on this stretch of coast.

Visitors to Port Isaac will find no shortage of shops, pubs or holiday accommodation for those wishing to stay on to enjoy the lovely hilly scenery and bracing sea air. Although now established as a holiday village, and despite much media attention owing to film and TV, Port Isaac has managed to retain its quaint Cornish character and charm.

In the summer the resort offers a number of events, and best of all this is one of the few places where you really can follow the band uphill, dancing to the strains of the famous Cornish Floral Dance!


3. Mevagissey, Cornwall

Mevagissey June 2009

Mevagissey June 2009 - Image by member Cees Zeelenberg (view gallery)

One of a ribbon of picturesque fishing villages dotting the fabled Cornish coastline. Mevagissey has ancient buildings flanking steep and extremely narrow streets which during the holiday season become crammed with visitors.

The village survives from the Middle Ages, in the 18th and 19th-centuries its harbours were busy places filled with fishing boats full of pilchards. Italy was a customer for cured pilchards, and the Royal Navy bought them, but called them Mevagissey Duck.

For several centuries the little fishing port was a haven for smugglers, its narrow winding lanes being ideal for outwitting the excise men! Tales of smuggling prevail to this day, one tells of the men of Mevagissey boarding a Customs boat to rescue fellow smugglers.

Today, the harbour is still a working harbour involved with fishing but it is also popular with yachtsmen. One of life's pleasures here is to sit on the quayside watching boats jostling for position in both the inner and outer harbour. Mevagissey's inner harbour dates to 1784, and the outer harbour to 1888. The outer pier was re-strengthened late in the last century.

This is a delightful place to visit at any time of year, in the autumn months it is quieter but no less spectacular for as the weather turns a little chillier so does the sea and you have the opportunity of experiencing breathtaking seascapes when the wind turns and once calm sea waters become a raging torrent.

In the village there is an array of shops selling everything from souvenirs to antiquities and art. There are quaint old inns, fishermen's cottages and many other picturesque buildings of the past. The life and times of the village are recalled in a museum building of 1745 which was formerly an old boatyard. It has roof supports made from ship's masts and is evocative of the times when the village was rife with smugglers whose boats were often repaired in this very yard. This is an exciting museum with many artefacts and photographs from the past.

Mevagissey is on the Cornwall South Coast Path, backed by a hinterland of glorious countryside which itself is a joy to explore. At the harbour pleasure boat trips and fishing for Sharks can be arranged.


4. Mousehole, Cornwall

Mousehole Harbour

Mousehole Harbour - Image by member Sarah Dawson (view gallery)

Increasingly popular 21st-century tourist destination which interestingly was sacked by Spanish troops in the 16th-century when all but one house was raised to the ground.

Today a delightful mix-match of houses and cottages crowd the tiny harbour which is usually full of fishing boats, pleasure craft and visiting yachts. Above the village is the famous Wild Bird Hospital where the lives of hundreds of birds are saved annually. Flanked by Newlyn and Lamorna Cove, Mousehole looks out across the wide sweep of Mount's Bay, on a clear day there are stunning views towards Prussia Cove and Trewavas Head. In spite of winter gales, early in December this little place becomes a 'winter wonderland' as the whole of the village is decked in Christmas lights for the famous Mousehole Illuminations.

Pleasant coastal walks take you to Lamorna where steep bracken-clad slopes above the bay are still studded with huge rocks cut from nearby quarries. Walking due west you come to Tater-du, Britain's first fully automatic lighthouse which first came into operation in 1965. In the opposite direction the coastal path takes you to Newlyn. Along here is the Penlee Point lifeboat house, where on a dramatic night in 1981 the Solomon Browne set to sea in a fierce storm in an attempt to rescue eight men from the coaster, Union Star. Sadly, all lives where lost and the boat's coxswain was posthumously awarded a Gold Medal, the RNLI equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

This delightful coastal village, with its wealth of history, lovely old harbour and beautiful headland walks, makes an interesting base for exploring the superb scenery of Mount's Bay and Land's End.

Places to visit include: Penzance, Lofty Cribba Head, Take a sea fishing trip, Geevor Tin Mines, St. Michaels Mount, Cape Cornwall and Minack Open Air Theatre.


5. Polperro, Cornwall

Polperro, Cornwall

Polperro, Cornwall - Image by member Ian Gedge (view gallery)

Jagged rocks rise as if to guard the entrance to the picturesque harbour of this enchanting fishing village which has for decades been a magnet for tourists and a mecca for artists from all over England. A charming mixture of quaint whitewashed cottages with brightly painted doors and windows, interspersed here and there with more substantial buildings, cram the steep hills and narrow streets that form the backdrop to the harbour. Heading from the sea, towards the shore, the picture that greets the eye, would be hard to equal anywhere.

Famous as a fishing village, this little place, in the 19th-century was the haunt of smugglers and it would seem that fishing and smuggling provided the main income for most families. These days not so much fishing goes on and in the summer the little harbour is full of gaily coloured yachts and pleasure boats.

A famous resident of Polperro was Dr. Johnathon Couch. Dr. Couch wrote four volumes on the History of the Fishes of the British Isles in the 1860's. At the same time he managed to continue with his medical practise and care for his patients. When he died his house became a museum.

Rugged coastal scenery can be enjoyed throughout this region. The walks along the south west coast path reward the visitor with spectacular views of coastal scenery and the sea. Inland, a short distance from Polperro is a model village and just a few miles from Looe is a famous Monkey Sanctury. There is a host of galleries, antique shops, pleasant cafe's and picturesque inns. The pace of life is refreshingly relaxed and enjoyable and it is easy to see why so many of Polperro's visitors return time and time again.


6. Charlestown, Cornwall

Charlestown Harbour

Charlestown Harbour - Image by member David Reynolds (view gallery)

This lovely little port hugs the rugged south Cornish coast overlooking picturesque St. Austell Bay. There has long been a settlement in the area, but the village did not develop until the late 18th century when it was expanded by Charles Rashleigh, a local mine owner. The area had seen an explosion in the mining industry and Rashleigh though it necessary to build a harbour for the shipment of copper and the china clay hauled from the mines at St. Austell. He instructed John Smeaton, builder of the Eddystone lighthouse, to design and build the port and in 1791 work began to both the port and pier. Later the work was extended to include a basin cut out of solid rock, thus ensuring safety for the fishing fleet.

Charlestown soon became busy, the harbourside bustled with coasters discharging coal from which black dust rose, mingling with the white dust of the china clay. Today, this lovely Georgian town is no less busy, its harbourside often thronged with visitors gazing at vessel's moored there, some are gaily painted fishing boats and sometimes there are handsome "tall-ships" to be seen.

The local inn, The Rashleigh Arms is named for Charles Rashleigh, the man who did so much to expand the area, and behind the old dock the Charlestown Shipwreck and Heritage Museum, tells the story of Charles Rashleigh and the history of the region.

Visitors will find this a gorgeous place, its harbour still operates as a working harbour with an active fishing fleet and at low tide this is flanked by attractive sand and shingle beaches.

In the town visitors will find plenty of pleasant inns, restaurants, cafe's, a variety of excellent holiday accommodation and a fine selection of shops.


7. Rock, Cornwall

Rock, on the Camel estuary opposite Padstow, Cornwall.

Rock, on the Camel estuary opposite Padstow, Cornwall. - Image by member Hilary Hoad (view gallery)

Rock is known to have been visited by at least one Royal Prince. It is a favoured resort and the main centre for sailing and water skiing on the Camel. The fact that it has a little shop packed to the rafters with speciality cheeses, champagne and fine wines, immediately tells you that Rock has become the fashionable haunt of the rich and famous. And not just the "haunt" for hidden in the countryside surrounding this idyllic resort are the homes of millionaires.

The delightful bay is a great place for sailing, surfing, and water skiing It is fringed by dunes and stretches round to Daymer Bay at low tide. The beach is the departure point for the daytime foot ferry that has linked Rock with Padstow since the 14th century. A night time water taxi is in operation during the busy tourist season to bring tourists back from a night out.

There are wonderful, uninterrupted views in almost every direction, as well as beautiful evening sunsets with glistening, foaming waves. Perhaps it is at this time, in the quiet glow of evening with colourful sails rippling in the breeze, the Camel estuary looks at its most romantic.

For evenings out there is the noted Black Pig, one of only two Michelin starred restaurants in the whole of Cornwall, and there are pleasant country pubs, most serving excellent food and drink, including tempting fresh delicacies from the sea. There are also pleasant walks over low cliffs, and a golf course extending to Daymer Bay, a good place for sunbathing that is becoming increasingly popular with families. Fishing trips are available and boats can be hired. There are sailing and water-ski schools.

A short walk away beside St. Enodoc golf course is the basically Norman church of Saint Enodoc with its distinctive crooked 13th century steeple. This is the final resting place of poet laureate John Betjeman and of sailor's and fishermen who have lost their lives in the treacherous coastal waters at the entrance to the Camel estuary.


8. Sennen, Cornwall

Sennen, Cornwall

Sennen, Cornwall - Image by member Roger Morton (view gallery)

Sennen is but a stone's throw from the towering cliffs of Land's End from which there are magnificent views across a swirling deep blue ocean, its waves, tinged with a creamy-white froth, sometimes hiding bulky, basking sharks. Fortunately, these are harmless and do nothing more than enhance the view.

In 1979, this little fishing village was at the centre of the disasterous Fastnet yacht race when its lifeboat crews were at sea for many hours helping survivors. The gales were relentless and several yachts and crews were lost. In the lifeboat house is a framed telegram from the Prime Minister paying tribute to the bravery of the crew who fought so valiantly to save the lives of others.

Sennen has a delightful harbour lying at the foot of ancient streets that are packed with old and interesting colourwashed cottages, shops and inns. From the harbour there is a lovely view across Whitesand Bay which is renowned for excellent surfing. In high summer there is a festival 'air' about this attractive place, the sea is thronged with surfers, swimmers, yachts and gaily painted pleasure craft. The soft beach is a haven for sunbathers and for little children who have a splendid time building sand castles and searching among rock pools for crabs.

On an historic note, Sennen is said to have been the site of the last battle between the men of Cornwall and the invading Danes and the parish church is the most westerly church in England. It is a beautiful church and among its many treasures is a medieval statue of the Virgin Mary. The church is well worth a visit.

A walk along the cliff from Sennen to Lands End is a richly rewarding experience-the views are outstanding. The Minack Open Air Theatre is within easy driving distance, so too, are the gardens at Trengwainton, owned by the NT. Other attractions are; Levant Steam Engine NT and Geevor Tin Mines.


9. Cadgwith, Cornwall

Thatched Cottages, Cadgwith, Cornwall

Thatched Cottages, Cadgwith, Cornwall - Image by member David Hubbard (view gallery)

This idyllic little cove is the place where Sir John Killigrew wanted to build a lighthouse but the crescendo of discord from the villagers was so great that it was not until 1751 that a lighthouse was built. These days, it is a proud boast of the village that it has both a coastguard and a lifeboat station.

In the village, quaint little cottages hide behind old stone walls that are whitwashed to compliment the walls to the cottages. Doors and windows are brightly painted and the roofs are thickly thatched, a pleasant alternative to the more common slate roof.

All along this magnificent coastline there are countless little coves, bays and inlets which in past times have made it ideal territory for shipwrecking and smuggling, and in Cadgwith, this practice would often provide the only source of income for some families. It is perhaps the reason why the good village folk of Cadgwith held out for so long against the building of a lighthouse!

Cadgwith, is in a truly beautiful area, it lies next to Ruan Minor and close to the overwhelming magnificence of Lizard Point.


10. Tintagel, Cornwall

View from Tintagel Castle, Tintagel in Cornwall

View from Tintagel Castle, Tintagel in Cornwall - Image by member Tony Winfield (view gallery)

The local tourist industry in Tintagel leans heavily upon tales surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but there is no real evidence for this in relation to Tintagel Castle. However, the ruins of Tintagel Castle are full of romance and atmosphere, which is possibly due to the writings of the 12th-century monk, Geoffrey of Monmouth who in a flight of fancy when monastic remains were discovered gleaned the idea of an earlier castle on the same site. His idea captured the imagination of everyone, and it prevails to this day.

The Norman castle was built in the 12th-century by Reginald, Earl of Cornwall, and the Celtic monastery probably dates from before the 9th-century. Perched high on a wave lashed promontory, the chosen site could not be more spectacular, no wonder it has fired imaginations for centuries.

Little more remains other than the foundations of a great hall and curtain walls. None-the-less, in its spectacular setting, the castle which was also home to the Black prince in the 14th-century, is well worth the effort it takes to reach it. The ruins have an unsurpassed romantic atmosphere, and the views from this lofty perch are quite beyond compare


A Pictures of England article submitted by Sarah

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