Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fish Towns: Devon and Cornwall’s best coastal villages

In 2011 Sky TV launched a documentary series that shone a spotlight on one of the UK’s oldest and busiest fishing ports. Vibrant, bustling and boasting an iconic fish quay, Brixham on Devon’s south coast had a rich maritime history, and the program which turned its attention to the local fishing industry, brought the lives of the people who live and work there firmly into focus. 

Thousands of viewers from all over the world tuned in to watch the series over its 10 week duration and after that, the town became a mini star on the South West’s bucket-list of top tourism destinations.

Since then, there have been several follow up TV series on other coastal towns with working harbours throughout the UK, and all have grown in popularity as places to stay. Local to the South West, accommodation providers Luxury Coastal who live and work in Devon and Cornwall, are passionate about the many and varied fishing villages in the area, so we asked them to tell us a bit more about them including what makes them such special places to visit.


Approximately 2.5 miles south of Penzance, Mousehole village and fishing port is one of the most picturesque in Cornwall. Historical records dating as far back as the 13th Century mention Mousehole as the main port in Mounts Bay, with its now iconic quay walls having been built later in the 19th Century. Today the village of Mousehole is a beautiful place to visit, with original stone dwellings lining its quaint streets and its layout affording incredible views out to sea from nearly every angle. There are wonderful places to eat, and a stroll down to the harbour to view the boats coming and going, is a wonderful way to while away an afternoon.


Probably one of Cornwall’s best known fishing towns, the small commercial port of Padstow sits within the Camel Estuary and is home to a thriving seafood industry. Famed for being the birthplace of Rick Stein’s flagship restaurant, this attractive harbour sees thousands of visitors descend on it in the summer months, and with good reason. Not only is its foodie scene a force to be reckoned with, but it’s also home to the 17 mile long Camel trail which has spectacular views of moorland, woodland and the estuary, and is perfect for family walks and cycling excursions.


Once a bustling fishing port, Clovelly is a quaint village in North Devon which is characterized by whitewashed cottages and a steep pedestrianized cobbled main street. Named the most Instagrammable British village in 2020, it is also privately owned, and has therefore maintained its old worldy atmosphere. Clovelly life centers around its harbour and is famous for its shellfish exports, most notable of which are its lobster and crab so if you fancy a seafood lunch with a view, this is the best place for it!


Operating as a working harbour since the 1400’s, Newlyn which has its own Cornish fishing fleet, has in recent decades had a major makeover. Boasting a charming town with its own art school as well as a Sky Seafood Bar (to name just one of its fabulous restaurants), Newlyn is a lovely place to visit. It’s also well-positioned on the coast and within easy reach of some of Cornwall’s best beaches like Sennen Cove, Porthcurno and Long Rock.

Claire James
Claire James
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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