Things to do in and around Mevagissey
With its rows of cob and slate cottages, narrow meandering lanes and ancient double harbour, Mevagissey is one of those picture-postcard Cornish gems. Once at the centre of Cornwall’s pilchards trade, the village still has an active fishing community and you can watch fishermen land their catch on the quay from the day boats. Here are some of our favourite things to see and do whilst you’re here.
Mevagissey was made for mooching. Its winding streets are stuffed with interesting antique shops, second hand bookshops and art galleries. One of our favourites is the aptly named Cofro (meaning “momento” in Cornish), which displays works from over 30 local artists, from prints and pottery to textiles and jewellery. They also sell local food and drink – perfect for stocking up on goodies to go home with.
Cycle the Pentewan Valley Trail
This 3.5-mile route follows the old railway line which brought China clay from the hills above St Austell to Pentewan; from here, you can continue on to Mevagissey — a couple of miles north — along the The Cornish Way cycle route. It’s largely traffic-free, making it a great family-friendly cycle route, with its meandering wooded route running close to the riverbank. You can take a detour to the Lost Gardens of Heligan along the way, or link up with the Wheal Martyn to Eden Project Trail and other Clay Trails.
The Eden Project
This one needs little introduction. The Eden project (pictured) is Cornwall’s best-loved, multi award-winning attraction with worldwide renown, home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest with thousands of plant species, all housed in eight interlinked giant greenhouses, or ‘biomes’. There’s a rainforest canopy walkway, 30 acres of outdoor gardens to explore, sculpture, art and architecture, an educational centre hosting demonstrations, workshops and courses.
Mevagissey History Museum
Delve into Mevagissey’s history with a visit to this small but perfectly formed little museum, just off the harbour. Set out over three floors and run by a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the museum gives you a great insight into village life over the centuries, with interesting exhibitions and displays, such as the detailed Cornish kitchen. Children will enjoy the pirate and teddy bear trails. There’s no charge to get in, but donations are welcome.
Lost Gardens of Heligan
It’s straight out of a fairytale, a beautiful garden lost to the outside world during at the outbreak of WWI, only to be rediscovered some 70 years later under a blanket of brambles. Heligan and its 200 acres has now become Europe’s largest garden restoration project, you’ll want to spend several hours visiting the various areas — the jungle with board walks and rope bridge, kitchen and flower gardens, the Italian garden and the 200-year old Pleasure Grounds. All just a few miles from Mevagissey.
The lovely Grade II-listed harbour of Charlestown (pictured) was originally built to export copper then China Clay in the 18th century. These days it’s used as a dock for tall ships, which means it regularly features as a location backdrop on the big screen (you may recognise it from Poldark). It’s only a short hop from Mevagissey and it’s well worth spending a day exploring the town and harbour, with its Shipwreck Treasure Museum. There’s also a lovely circular walk between the harbour and the sheltered cove at Porthpean.
There are three fantastic beaches within 10-15 minutes of Mevagissey. Vault Beach (pictured) is a little off the beaten track but if you’re happy with a little scramble from the car park, you’ll be rewarded with a lovely beach, often relatively quiet even in peak season — we suggest sticking to the north end of the beach unless you want to go skinny dipping with fellow naturists! Porthpean is great for swimming and snorkelling with its beautiful clear water and interesting rockpools. The closest, Gorran Haven, is a wide crescent of golden sand right in front of the village, just around the corner from Mevagissey.
You can’t miss this little aquarium located in the old RNLI lifeboat station right on the quay, housing an interesting collection of local fish and crustaceans that you can find off the coast, including lobsters and crabs. It may not be big, but it should definitely make it onto your tour of the harbour and will keep you entertained for a rainy hour or so.