Magical Mevagissey Cornwall
29th September 2019
Magical Mevagissey, Cornwall. Every September I head to a different part of England’s southwest coast in Cornwall or Devon. It’s a great time of year there, as the long lazy days of summer wane and autumn starts to be felt as a sharper edge in the air. There’s also the bonus of far fewer people than in the summer months and often there’s some really spectacular weather.
I chose Mevagissey in southeast Cornwall for no other reason than I’d seen some wonderful photos of the harbour on Instagram and had never visited this part of Cornwall before. And from the moment I arrived, I fell totally in love with it.
Mevagissey is a completely charming Cornish fishing village located in southeast Cornwall.
It has an unbroken tradition of boat building that dates back to 1745…
…and you can find still find the local boatyard between the inner and outer harbour.
These twin inner and outer harbours are the vibrant nerve-centre of the village, where fishermen still land their daily catch, clean their boats and repair their nets on the quayside, just as they have since the first pier was built in 1430.
The name of the town comes from the combination of names of two saints – St Meva and St Issey (Meva-ag-issey). It was first recorded as a hamlet in 1313 but there were settlements in the area long before that, as evidenced by the nearby discovery of Bronze Age burial urns.
Today, Mevagissey remains a maze of narrow, tiny streets that twist and turn around old cob and slate buildings to the harbour from the high hills surrounding the village. Around the harbour are many wonderful craft workshops, galleries, cafés and pubs; you might even come across this delightful bit of street art!
My 3 perfect days in Mevagissey
I’ll be writing separate posts about each of these days over the coming weeks, but in summary:
- Day 1: Walk the South West Coast Path from Mevagissey to Charlestown, return by bus. A moderate to strenuous 8-mile walk with a LOT of steep ascents and descents. I used the iWalk Cornwall app on my phone which is brilliant!
- Day 2: A day at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a fascinating 200-acre estate that was lost to overgrowth after WWI and rediscovered in 1990. Only a mile away and well worth an entire day.
- Day 3: Explore Mevagissey Harbour and village; it’s a photographic paradise, even when the weather’s terrible, with plenty of charming shops and eateries, and loads of benches on which to sit and while away the day.
Other things to see and do in and around Mevagissey
I only spent 3 full days here, but I could have easily stayed a week. There was quite a bit more that I would have loved to do and I will definitely be back:
- The Eden Project is just 10 miles from Mevagissey, about a 20-25 minute drive along a good road or just over an hour by bus (you can get a discounted ticket on arrival if you use public transport). Nestled in a crater, it’s an educational charity and social enterprise where huge Biomes house a massive rainforest, gardens, exhibitions and all sorts of events.
- Fowey is another historic harbour town and is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can take a return ferry across the bay and easily spend a day there, exploring the town or venturing off for a local walk.
- Walk the South West Coast Path from Mevagissey to Portloe. It’s a challenging walk but there are shorter and more moderate options; iWalk Cornwall is a superb resource for a multitude of walks near Mevagissey.
- A bit further out is Lanhydrock, a National Trust Victorian country house with gardens and woodland. About 40 minutes by car from Mevagissey, the estate is 1,000 acres of parkland, woods and riverside paths.
- Caerhys Castle and Gardens is only open to the public from mid-February to mid-June. Owned by the Williams family since the 1860s, this Cornish castle overlooks the sea at Porthluney Cove and is renowned for its spring gardens. It’s only about a 20-minute drive from Mevagissey (though along narrow, twisting Cornish lanes!) or can be done as very challenging circular walk of 13 miles.
- And if beaches are your thing, this part of Cornwall – often called the Cornish Riviera – has no less than 14 beaches within easy reach of Mevagissey.
Where to stay: Stones Throw Cottage
I’m not quite sure how I found Stone’s Throw Cottage in Mevagissey but I am so glad I did. This charming, fully refurbished Grade II fisherman’s cottage is a 4-star B&B in the heart of Mevagissey. As the name implies, it’s a stone’s throw to the harbour, which is just down the alley on the right in the photo below.
Owned and run by Fran, it has 3 rooms – a double (Lighthouse), a single (Anchor) and a twin (Blue, which can be configured as a triple). I stayed in the Anchor at £65 a night and it was totally charming, with a huge bed, reclaimed wood furnishings, and local photography on the walls, most of which is the Fran’s own work.
There’s no wardrobe, just a large dresser and hooks on the wall, and the bathroom is tiny, but the room is so cosy and comfortable. I loved it the second I walked in.
There are also so many wonderful details and little touches – like the organic shower gels and shampoos, the chocolate-covered raisins, hot chocolate, and guest iPad – that it felt completely luxurious.
And if you’re lucky enough to wake up for the sunrise on a clear morning, you might just see this…
Beyond the room, my entire experience at this B&B was beyond expectation. Fran is lovely and so incredibly helpful. And I swear I’ve never had such fantastic eggs or bread anywhere!
Stone’s Throw Cottage just has so much soul to it. I really loved it and will definitely be back.
Top tip: Let Fran know where you intend to visit in the area; you can buy tickets to places like the Lost Gardens of Heligan from her at a discount and she’ll just add it straight on to your bill.
From southwest London it’s around 250 miles to Mevagissey by car and there’s a choice of routes.
There’s not much difference in the M3/A303 middle route v the M4/M5; depending upon traffic it’s always a gamble which one will be the quicker. But I always opt for the M3 because I really don’t like driving the M5 from Bristol and the middle route only puts you on the M5 for 5 miles.
Ignore the driving time that Google Maps shows you. The reality is that with the inevitable traffic, changeable weather, and stops along the way it can take well over 5 hours. In fact, my drive there in mist and bursts of rain took me well over 6 hours, although the drive home took me about just over 5 hours.
I followed Google Maps: A316 out of London -> M3 -> A303 -> A30 -> M5 -> A30 -> A391 which takes you to St Austell. However, on advice from Fran, instead of veering onto the B3274 (where Google Maps will direct you) as I neared St Austell, I kept on the A391 to the A390 circling around St Austell and then on to the B3273 which is well-signposted to Mevagissey. Mileage-wise it’s a little longer, but avoids some narrow, twisting country lanes which I find really stressful driving and can actually take longer. From St Austell it’s only about a 10-15 minute drive to Mevagissey on the B road.
The A roads are mostly dual carriageway that narrow to single carriageway at various parts of the route. Traffic invariably slows at these points and there may be farm machinery on these roads which can further slow traffic. But the roads open up to dual carriageway soon enough and I just find this route a much more relaxing and scenic drive.
Parking in Mevagissey
Don’t attempt to drive into the village! The streets are very, very narrow – barely a car’s width – and there’s only very limited short-stay parking. The Willow Car Park is located along the main road on your left just before the entrance to the village and you should park here for the duration of your stay. You can easily leave and return for day trips outside the village. I paid just £20 for 3 ½ days parking and it’s less than a 5-minute walk to the harbour and Stone’s Throw Cottage.
You can find more photos in my Mevagissey, Cornwall Photo Album
And check out my next blog post in this series: Mevagissey to Charlestown along the South West Coast Path