Porthleven is Britain’s most southerly port. Over the years it has been important for its fishing fleet, exporting of china clay from Tregoinning Hill, and importing all sorts including coal, lime and timber.
The port was built between 1811 and 1858 to provide a safe haven in Mounts Bay after a number of wrecks, in particular the HMS Anson that sunk in 1807 with the loss of 130 lives.
Now though it’s one of Cornwall’s most charming port destinations.
There is a small fishing industry still, mostly landing crab and lobster rather than the mackerel and pilchards of years gone by. It’s a good place to go out on fishing day trips too.
For many though it’s the quaint largely unspoiled village, the lovely south facing beach, and the restaurants, that are the main attractions.
On Saturday we had a good lunch in Amelie’s on the west side of the harbor where you’ll also find Blue Haze (go on a curry night), and the recently opened Rick Stein’s.
After lunch it was down to the beach to see how it’s looking after the big storm in mid-January. On the evening of 14 January the sea washed away a huge amount of sand, leaving the promenade steps just hanging in mid-air, and rocks where the lovely beach was hours before. As happens sometimes, the majority of the sand was dumped back in place by the next tide.
While we usually walk right along the beach to Loe Bar, and then back along the lane, on Saturday the gorgeous sunshine was such a welcome surprise we lapped it up sitting on the sea defenses for an hour instead.
You’re spoilt for choice with so many places to eat in Porthleven. Kota and The Square get great reviews, both at the head of the harbor, but we haven’t tried either in a while.
Rick Stein opening back in November will no doubt push prices up a bit, but Porthleven already commands a premium so it’s unlikely to make such a difference.
If you’re keen on a more active approach to your holidays then Porthleven often offers a good swell for surfers, the wreck of the Ansom is still there providing a good dive site, and the cliff walking is excellent in both directions. Take care swimming to the east, and don’t go in near Loe Bar no matter how strong you are – it’s extremely dangerous with a fierce undertow.
Stay at Trevena Cross Barn up the road in Breage and you’ll have total privacy, with great gardens and plenty of space, and yet be just two miles from all Porthleven has to offer. The tiny little known beaches like Rinsey will be on your door step, and you can walk up Tregonning Hill from where on a clear day you can see both coasts.