When I first heard the name Mousehole, it conjured up images of Tom pursuing Jerry as he escapes, firmly and safely into that little black hole in the wall. We did not know what to expect, but this little dot on the Cornish coast between Penzance and Newlyn was certainly well worth the visit, even if just for a quick stop-over.
Dylan Thomas described Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel, by the locals) as “the loveliest village in England” and he was not wrong. Mousehole is a picturesque, quaint little fishing harbour village lying about 2 miles south from Newlyn. Narrow cobbled streets, heavy-set stone cottages and an enveloping harbour all contribute to Mousehole’s charm. Although these days fishing is no longer the main livelihood of its residents, the harbour remains in place providing locals and visitors alike with a safe, sandy beach at low tide.
We managed to find a spot at the car park by the harbour which was small and quite busy and explored the rest of Mousehole on foot.
It is uncertain how Mousehole came to it’s name. Some attribute it to a sea cave near the village where smugglers are said to have stashed their contraband; another explanation suggests that the name is from the cornish word moeshayle (a small river (hayle) that runs through). In those days it was also known as Porth Enys and for a time both names were used interchangeably.
As early as the 14th century, Mousehole was already a main port serving the local area exporting fish and cloth and importing salt for fish curing. in the 16th century, Mousehole was sacked by the Spanish and the whole village bar one house was damaged or burnt to the ground. This Tudor building Keigwin Arm still stands to this day.
Photos by Samuel J Tan
It is hard to believe that this tiny harbour in Mousehole was once one of the busiest ports with up to 60 boats plying the bay. These days it provides a calm, safe beach for locals and visitors.
The Shops & Pub
Mousehole is a haven for visitors and tourists with little nooks and alleys to explore, artists’ galleries and shops full of pottery and craft. It is only a small place which makes exploring on foot easy but its charm lies in the quaint houses and narrow alleyways. It is a gently sloping incline from the harbour towards the rest of the village. The route is fairly circular so it’s possible to make your way around Mousehole without going back on yourself too often.
The Boats and Kayaks
While many houses are now holiday cottages, it is lovely to see that a good portion are still occupied by locals. Many grow and sell plants in their front gardens. Walking around Mousehole, you get a feel of the close-knit community. Although fishing is no longer the mainstay income of the area, many artists and crafters share their creations making it quite a visual feast to walk around in the village.
Date Taken: September 2020 by Samuel J Tan