Mousehole, pronounced “mowzul”, is a fishing hamlet on the coast of West Cornwall. Dylan Thomas described it as “the loveliest village in England” and he probably wasn’t wrong–even if it was overcast on the morning we visited.
Mousehole is around 5km from Penzance, an easy walk along the South West Coast Path, so we squeezed in a visit while we were in the area. Alternatively you can take the bus for a few pounds but we wanted to also have a little peek at the fishing village of Newlyn en route.
There are records of a port in Mousehole as far back as 1266 (South Quay is possibly the oldest pier in Cornwall) and while these days the majority of the vessels in the harbour are kept for fun, a few working boats do remain, fishing mostly for pilchards.
Have you ever heard of the fabulously-named Stargazy Pie? It’s a Mousehole classic, apparently invented here when local fisherman Tom Bawcock saved the village from starvation after catching a heroic haul during a violent storm.
Besides inventing world-famous fish pies, Mousehole has plenty of other interesting historical tales.
In 1595, the Spanish attacked and burned down entire village except for one surviving building, previously the Keigwin Arms, now a house–which still stands today. Mousehole native Dorothy Pentreath, who died in 1777 at the age of 102, was the last recorded speaker of the Cornish language (prior to its revival). In 1981, the crew of the Solomon Browne lifeboat lost their lives trying to save those onboard the Union Star (who also perished); if you walk the South West Coast Path you’ll pass a monument to them by the lifeboat station at Penlee Point, just outside Mousehole.
Of course, there are plenty of pirate and smuggler stories too.
Want to stay in the village? The Ship Inn is highly-rated and well-located (literally right on the harbour). We were staying at Chapel House back in Penzance, and with a 6.30pm dinner reservation didn’t have time to sample any Stargazy Pie before rushing off to St Michael’s Mount–but we did manage a cream tea at the Rock Pool Café and grabbed a Cornish pasty from Jessie’s Dairy to eat on the bus!
We loved Mousehole and ideally would’ve had more than a morning to take it in, but if you enjoyed this mini guide catch up on my other Cornwall posts, with more to come from Penzance and the Isles of Scilly (once I’ve got through 800+ photos!) :)
- My posts about Penzance and the local area
- Hotel review: Chapel House, Penzance
- Visit Cornwall: Mousehole
- We are Cornwall: Mousehole
- BBC: The story of Tom Bawcock and Stargazy Pie
- Wikipedia: Stargazy (also called Starrey Gazey) Pie
- Book Depository: “The Mousehole Cat” by Antonia Barber