The Old Exchange

Mousehole Cornwall


Mousehole is a picturesque fishing village on the south coast of Cornwall between Penzance and Land’s End. It was sacked by the Spaniards in July 1595 when the entire village was burnt to the ground apart from Keigwin house (14th century) which still stands today. A hundred years ago Mousehole was a bustling port, crowded with local fishing boats, landing pilchards. Each year, early in November, timber beams are laid across the narrow harbour entrance, to protect the village from the worst of the winter gales.

Mousehole has retained its charm. Its narrow streets are filled with small shops, galleries and restaurants. Local cottages built from finely grained Lamorna granite, huddle together around the inner edge of the harbour. Dylan Thomas described the village as ”the loveliest village in England”.

Dolly Pentreath, reputedly the last person to speak only the Cornish language, lived in Mousehole. She died 200 years ago. There is a memorial to her in the churchyard at Paul, a small village just above Mousehole. In recent years, the Cornish language has undergone a revival.

Just offshore from the harbour is St Clement’s Isle, a small cluster of rocks where an ancient hermit was said to have lived. A few hundred yards along the coast from the village is a huge cave which is believed to give rise to the strange name of the village. A small, safe sandy beach is located in the harbour.

Mousehole is often considered to be Llareggub in Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas.

Mousehole hosts a vibrant variety of festivals and activities. It is known for its Christmas illuminations, created each year to raise money for charity. On December 19th the lights are turned off in memory of the victims of the lifeboat disaster. Tom Bawcocks Eve is a unique celebration held on December 23rd each year to celebrate the ending of a famine in the 16th century by local resident Tom Bawcock. This festival is the inspiration behind the book The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber. “Star Gazey Pie' is eaten, a pilchard, egg and potato pie with fish heads protruding through the pastry. Mousehole  holds a maritime festival every two years called Sea Salts And Sail.

Sea Salts and Sail

Traditional Sailing Boats racing in Mounts Bay

Live music and delicious food and drink

Cookery demonstrations

Demonstrations of local crafts like crab pot making

Photographic display of Old Cornwall

Tattyella Feast-Tattyella is the Cornish version of Paella, locals insist Spanish pirates/sailors stole the dish.

Events just for children

Lots of stalls selling gifts and interesting items

Mousehole Bird Hospital

National Seal Sanctuary




Trengwainton Garden,

Madron, near Penzance

The Godolphin Estate

Walk along the Coastal Path from Mousehole to Lamorna Cove and on towards Porthcurno, you pass Tater Du Light lighthouse. To the east is Newlyn, the largest fishing port in the South West.

Lamorna Cove lies at the head of a wooded valley. It was popular with early 20th century artists, particularly Samuel John known as Lamorna Birch. Their is diving, exploring Bucks Reef or one of the many wrecks lying a short distance offshore. A stream runs down to the sea and daffodils abound in the springtime. Flowers were once grown commercially in the small fields on the valley sides. Not too far inland from here is the ring of standing stones known as the Merry Maidens and the pipers.

On the cliffs to the west of Porthcurno is the world famous Minack Theatre. This wonderful open air venue commands superb views across Porthcurno Bay, with its turquoise water and golden rocks, as far as The Lizard. Between May and September each year, performances are given by a variety of theatrical companies. An Exhibition Centre tells the story of how a village play in 1929 led to the seventeen week summer season now staged in the 750 seat auditorium. The Minack Theatre was the inspiration and life’s work of Rowena Cade. There is a café on the site and sub-tropical rockeries, based on the cliff garden developed here by Rowena Cade in the 1930s. The salt-tolerant succulents thrive, despite the wind, providing colour during most of the year.

The Newlyn School was a group of painters who started the plein air movement in England, following the lead in France, where many of them trained. The group was lead by Stanhope Forbes and Walter Langley. Other painters in the group included Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes, Norman Garstin, T.C.Gotch, and Henry Scott Tuke. Several of the Newlyn artists were involved in the establishment of the New English Art Club in 1885/6. In 1899, Stanhope Forbes and his wife Elizabeth founded a School of Art at Newlyn. A second generation of Newlyn artists included A.J.Munnings, Lamorna Birch and Laura Knight. Artists continued to be based in Newlyn into the 1920s, and many artists still live and paint in the area today.

Next to Newlyn Green recreational area on the sea front is the Newlyn Art Gallery It was designed by Passmore Edwards and built in 1895 to display the works of the Newlyn School artists Today the gallery has a society whose members produce only contemporary work. The work of The Newlyn School is now displayed at Penlee House Museum in Penzance.

It is worth rising early to visit the bustling Fish Market and to see the fish being sold. The fish is displayed in coloured rectangular baskets and ticketed awaiting auction. Some of the fish are destined for local restaurants, but most are sold to buyers from various other European countries, especially to France, Spain and Portugal. The Newlyn Fish Festival is held on August Bank Holiday each year, when stalls and cafés take over the quays for the day.

From Penzance harbour, ferries go to the Isles of Scilly. It is also possible to travel to the islands by helicopter from Penzance Heliport and by small plane from Land’s End Airport. A little way along the seafront in the direction of Newlyn is the art deco, outdoor, Jubilee Swimming Pool, opened in 1935. There is wonderful swimming in the crystal clear water off the rocks around the Mousehole cave down cave lane, or at Porthcurno and many other white sand beaches.

In Penzance the sub-tropical Morrab Gardens are worth a visit. They are also home to Morrab Library, one of the few remaining private libraries in the country. Around this area are many attractive Regency buildings. Not far away is Penlee House and Gardens. The delightful small museum has regular exhibitions of paintings and houses a permanent collection of work by Newlyn artists such as Stanhope Forbes and Walter Langley. During the summer, plays are performed in the park and there is the local tennis club . There are many small galleries in the town.

Sennen Cove boasts one of the loveliest stretches of sand in Cornwall, Whitesands Beach, and still retains much of the atmosphere of an old fishing village. It is a popular spot with surfers and hosts the local surfing club. The Old Success Inn is a 17th century building with views across the bay.

St Michaels Mount was established in 1044AD, as a Benedictine Monastery by the monks of St Michel of Brittany after being given to them by Edward the Confessor. From the 12th Century its potential as a fortress attracted English Kings and rebellious nobles. In 1425 it was annexed by the Crown and the monks ejected. From then until the Civil War control of it passed, either by royal consent or by force, from noble to noble. In 1657 it was bought by the St Aubyn family who stIll live there although since 1954 it has been owned by the National Trust. This magical island has a church, a medieval castle an exotic garden clinging to the steep flanks, and an ancient harbour where you will find shops and a restaurant.

Access from Marazion is by foot along the causeway, or by ferry at high water.

Sensible footwear is recommended.


Opening Times
31 Mar - 20 Jun 10.30 - 5.30 Open Every Day - Closed Sat
21 Jun - 5 Sep 10.30 - 5.30 Open Every Day
6 Sep - 31 Oct 10.30 - 5.30 Open Every Day - Closed Sat
31 Mar - 31 May 10.30 - 5.30 Open Mon - Fri
1 Jun - 31 Oct 10.30 - 5.30 Open Thurs & Fri
Last admissions 4.45 pm on the island
Castle also opens on Easter Saturday

Entrance Fee Adult - £5.20 Children (under 16) £2.60
Family Ticket - £13 Groups (20 or more) £4.70 Garden (not NT) £2.50

Ferry boats £1.00 per person Children (under 15) 50p, each way.

St.Michaels Mount


Penzance, Cornwall

Telephone: 01736 710507
Tide & Ferry Information 01736 710265

Porthcurno (Kernow) 

Stunning White sand beach, with crystal clear aquamarine water. The location of the original trans-Atlantic cable that ran across the Atlantic to the USA. The Cable and Wireless centre is now closed but some of the early cable remains are exposed to view. The Cove has recently been presented to the National Trust..

Chûn Castle

Trehyllys, Madron, Near Penzance, Cornwall TR20 - England, UK

West Cornwall is rich in prehistoric and ancient remains, and Chûn Castle is one of the most spectacular. Perched on a hilltop looking out over the cliffs to the Atlantic Ocean, there is still enough left of the Iron Age defensive fort to give visitors an idea of what life must have been like on these moors in the years before the birth of Christ. The gateposts still remain, as do the foundations of the walls which once towered twenty feet over the hilltop. Within the ramparts can be seen the remains of stone houses constructed by people who re-inhabited the castle in the Dark Ages, after the departure of the Romans.

Chûn Quoit

Trehyllys, Madron, Near Penzance, Cornwall TR20 - England, UK

Several thousand years before the birth of Christ, the inhabitants of the high moorlands behind Land’s End erected this enormous burial chamber. Nobody knows exactly how old it is – some say it dates from 4000 BC. It is now one of the best preserved of all British dolmens. The capstone, which weighs some nine tons, is believed to have been manhandled into place on a system of rollers and ramps.



Cornwall, none is more puzzling than the Men-an-Tol (stone of the hole). Nobody really knows the purpose of the structure, or even quite how old it is, although most agree that it dates from the early Bronze Age, around 2000 BC. The Men an Tol is actually four stones – one of which has fallen, but three of which remain standing. The hole in the centre stone is just wide enough for an adult to pass through, and traditionally it has been used to promote well-being. It was said that tubercular children could be cured by being passed through the hole three times, and even today many visitors to this ancient site squeeze through the Men an Tol in the hope of good luck and good health.

Lanyon Quoit

Near Penzance, Cornwall TR20 - England,

The most visited of all West Cornwall’s dolmens, or burial mounds, Lanyon Quoit owes its popularity to its location, a short walk from a main road. The monument is thought to date from the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, and has a capstone weighing more than eighteen tons. It once stood high enough off the ground for a man on horseback to sit comfortably beneath it, but the capstone fell to the ground in the early nineteenth century, probably as a result of excavations, and was replaced by a team from the Royal Navy, who found they had to lower the height of the ‘legs’ in order to accomplish the repairs.

“The Merry Maidens”

Neolithic Stone circle near Mousehole, across the field, are the “Pipers”



THE OLD COASTGUARD HOTEL  If neither a beach bar nor a cutting-edge restaurant hits the spot and you pine for something traditionally Cornish (but still can't quite manage a pasty), then consider a visit to Mousehole, "the loveliest village in England", according to Dylan Thomas. In the brasserie at the Old Coastguard Hotel (01736 731222) the food is inventive and the setting delightful, with a path leading down to rock pools at the water's edge. Free Wifi.

2 FORE STREET is a chic and stylish French bistro-style restaurant on Mousehole harbour front with views across Mount's Bay as far as Lizard point. The menu changes regularly to reflect the freshest of local produce and boasts an array of crowd pleasers from old fashioned fish and chips, homemade burger with Cornish Blue cheese and red onion marmalade and locally caught mackerel smoked in house with a simple salad or made into a delicious pate served with our homemade toasted bread.
As well as the dining area, you can enjoy long summer days in a beautiful secluded garden.

Good Food Guide 2009.

THE CORNISH RANGE The food: Crack into the crunchy parmesan shell of the potted Newlyn crab, or push the boat out with the full seafood platter. The restaurant has a well deserved reputation for excellent seafood, but vegetarians and carnivores will also find much to enjoy. From £55; two-course dinner from £17.50. Details: 01736 731488,

THE SHIP INN  Lovely inn in a superb location perched overlooking the wonderful Mousehole harbour. Excellent cask ales and you may even be able to try the Cornish delicacy of Stargazey Pie. 01736 731234