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Meva-ag-issey, means "Meva & Issey". the town of St. Meva and St. Issey was first recorded as a hamlet in 1313, however there were settlements in the locality long before that date, as is shown by the uncovering of two bronze age burial urns at Portmellon. Mevagissey is a maze of tiny streets that wind through old cob and slate buildings coming to the nerve centre which is undoubtedly the harbour. To this day this is very much a working harbour where fishermen can be seen mending their nets and unloading their catch, this has been the case since John Trewollas built the first pier in 1430.
Today the fishermen are quite happy to take visitors fishing, be it deep sea or just trawling for mackerel in the bay.
Self drive hire boats are also available from the harbour.
Fishing from the quay is a popular pastime and often successful, early morning and evening are the best times.
In the narrow streets can be found various craft shops art galleries, cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Also in the village:
World of Model Railways Exhibition, an impressive collection of 2000 models and a layout alive with 50 working trains.
Sea Aquarium (in the old lifeboat house)
Folk Museum, shows how Mevagissey once looked when the pilchard industry was booming.
Feast Week: Celebrations at the end of June includes music, flora dance, fishing boat race, fireworks, in fact a jolly time is had by all.
On the outskirts of Mevagissey there are some beautiful sandy beaches, the closest being Pentewan and Gorran Haven.
Many people visit Mevagissey outside the normal holiday season in order to enjoy the heritage and natural wildlife of Cornwall without the usual crowds and to capture the awesome beauty of the precipitous cliffs and the sea in all its moods.
During the pre-Christmas period Mevagissey has a wonderful display of Christmas Lights and the New Year is celebrated in the Cornish tradition in which almost everybody wears fancy dress.
Passenger ferry trips to Fowey are available from the harbour. Take in all the little coves, beaches and headlands en-route and enjoy a few hours in this picturesque little town, with perhaps a cream tea or walk around the headland. Views of Fowey can be seen on the 'Fowey Link' page.
Mevagissey is 5 miles south of St Austell on the B3273.
The largest village in St Austell Bay and like many other Cornish fishing villages was once an important centre for the Pilchard Industry. In the 19th century catches of over 12000 tons were landed employing everyone in the village, from processing, boat construction and net/rope making. Boat construction continues to this day. Some of the catch was sold to the Royal Navy, sailors referred to the fish as 'Mevagissey Ducks'.
Mevagissey is a labyrinth of narrow streets all pointing to the focal point, the harbour. There is an inner harbour and an outer harbour. The inner harbour remains unchanged from when it was constructed in the 1770's when an act of Parliament in 1774 authorised construction of the new piers and jetties. The original east pier dates back as far as 1430. Many of the buildings in the town date from the 18th century. The outer harbour offers less protection that the inner but still affords a good anchorage except for perhaps on a South/Southeaster gale. The initial construction was destroyed in the great storm of 1891 but was eventually finished in 1897. Today, the harbour has an array of fishing and pleasure boats and is a very popular destination for visitors to the area.
The Harbour is also home to: The Mevagissey Museum: The building itself dates from 1745. It houses a broad collection of artifacts including the Pilchard Industry, agricultural machinery, various old photographs etc.
Also in the village is: World of Model Railway Exhibition: Over 2000 models and over 40 trains. The detailed scenery through which the trans run is exceptional.
The Aquarium: Housed in the old lifeboat station on the west quay, all proceeds go to the upkeep of the harbour. Very interesting a well worth a visit.
In the 1750's when John Wesley came to Mevagissey to preach he was greeted with a barrage of rotton eggs and old fish. Visitors today need not fear such a welcome, the village is very popular during the holiday season and even during the rest of the year more and more visitors are appearing. This has given rise to the proliferation of cafes/restaurants/gift shops/pubs. But essentially the village is unspoilt with all its old buildings remaining. It is a very popular pastime to just sit or wander around the harbour eating an ice cream and watching the boats. Be watchful of the seagulls, they will snatch food from your hands, and definitely do not feed them.
The unspoilt appearance of the village makes it a favourite for film making including 'Dracula'. George Bernard Shaw whilst staying in the village wrote his play 'Doctors Dilema'.
Boat Trips: All the usual are available - from deep sea fishing to trips around the bay. A recommended trip is the passenger ferry to Fowey. This takes in local headlands/beaches and you are able to enjoy Fowey for a few hours before returning. The ferry runs subject to sea conditions, which in the summer are usually favourable.
Fishing from the Harbour Wall: Another favourite pastime, mackerel, mullet, Pollack and bass are the favoured species. There is a fishing tackle shop/bait supply on the quay.
What is there to do locally:
Mevagissey is home to: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Just a short drive away. This is an outstanding garden and a visit is highly recommended. There is also an excellent tea room/nursery/farm shop
The Eden Project: Affiliated to the Lost Gardens of Heligan this needs no introduction. It is a world famous site, well publicised on the television and is about 30 minutes from Mevagissey, traffic permitting. (which through St Austell is not often).
Caerhays Castle Garden: An informal 60 acre woodland garden. The garden can be traced back to the end of the 19th century when many of the plants and shrubs were introduced by Chinese plant hunters. The garden is best known for its huge Asiatic Magnolias which are in their prime during March/April. It is also home to the X Williamsii Camelia hybrids and to many varieties of Rhododendrons. The house/castle was built between 1805 – 1807 and is open for conducted tours on certain days. Tel. 01872 501310 for information.
Mevagissey Beaches: Mevagissey does not have its own beach but there are several within a short drive.
Pentewan Beach: Just off the B3273 St Austell to Mevagissey road. This is a private beach with the main access through Pentewan Sands Holiday Park. However access is permitted through Pentewan village. Park your car in the village and it is only a short walk onto the beach. (parking is limited). The beach has excellent sand for the south coast and offers good bathing. It is quite open to the sea and surfing is sometimes possible. Toilets/pub/tea room in the village. Dogs - banned all year.
Portmellon Beach: Just to the west of Mevagissey on the coast road. A flat sandy beach with the through road running right alongside it. The tide comes right into the wall and quite often crashes right over it, (mostly in the winter). The road has been repaired on numerous occasions. The beach is not popular but what makes it more pleasant is the Rising Sun Inn, located on the waters edge. Built around 1681 if offers a choice of good beers and an excellent 50 seater restaurant. There are no car parks in Portmellon except for the Rising Sun which is for patrons only. Dogs are allowed all year. No facilitlies.
Moving just a short distance further west we arrive at:
Gorran Haven Beach: A popular wide sandy beach sheltered from the prevailing wind by the impressive 400 feet high Dodman Point. This beach is a favourite with locals and visitors alike, usually calm but sometimes on a south easter wind good for surfing. The beach really does form part of the village, the sea is just a stones throw from the small shops and café. Facilities include, parking, toilets, café, shops. There is no lifeguard service. Dogs - permitted all year. Fishing from the harbour wall is a favourite pastime at high water. Mackerel/flounder/Pollack and the occasional bass are the favoured species.
Moving on we come to:
Vault Beach: A long stretch of isolated course sand directly underneath and protected by the Dodman Point. The far western end of the beach there are scattered rock formations, a favourite with the occasional nudist that frequent this lonely beach. There are excellent rock pools, some of which are quite deep, and the sand quality does improve as the tide recedes. The beach is probably very quiet due to its inaccessibility, but once there, if you wish to avoid the crowds, this is a good place to be. It may be approached along the cliff path from Gorran Haven. A lovely walk taking in rocky outcrops and the headland. The walk can be precarious but is not difficult. Allow 20/30 mins. By car: Just before reaching Gorran Haven car park turn right up a steep narrow hill. You will soon come to Lamledra car park. Just follow the path down to the beach, a very nice walk with benches on the way, allow 10 minutes. Facilities - None. Dogs - banned from Easter to October 1st.
Moving west again we arrive at:
Hemmick Beach: A very pleasant sandy beach which is quite large at low tide but small at high tide. Although there is an unclassified road running alongside the beach, due to its isolate location it never gets busy. Facilities - None. Parking - roadside for 3 or 4 cars. National Trust car park on the west of the beach up the hill. The road tends to get slippery when wet. Dogs - permitted all year. Directions: From Gorran Churchtown, top of the hill turn right on the coastal road. Follow the signs for Boswinger and Hemmick beach. Be warned, the road down to the beach and beyond is very narrow, just over a car's width in places, there are few passing places be prepared to reverse.
The last in line for beaches associated to Mevagissey is:
Caerhays Beach (Porthluney Cove) 200 metres of sandy beach sheltered by the cliffs. Very popular with both locals and visitors, a lovely beach for children, very rarely rough. There is a car park on the beach front, this is bacically a sandy grass field, also good for picnics or just lying around, the beach is no more than a stone's throw away. Facilities include toilets/café/shop. Like most south coast beaches there is no lifeguard services. Lovely cliff-top walks can be enjoyed from the beach on the eastern side. (on the left of the beach). Dogs - unusually and quite surprisingly dogs are permitted all year. Directions: St Austell/Mevagissey B3273 road, just after Pentewan turn right towards Gorran. At Gorran High Lanes turn right onto the Caerhayes road. Follow the signs for Caerhayes Castle
Local walk from Mevagissey: (not circular)
Mevagissey to Trenarren 3.7 miles 3 hours approx: Park your car in the large car park at Mevagissey. Walk down through the town towards the harbour. On meeting the harbour bear left towards Mevagissey Museum. Take the inclined coastpath as marked, looking down on the museum and outer harbour walls. Walk up steps to meet a 'playing field' near houses and the Trevalsa Court Hotel and continue along the path at the end of residents gardens. The route grows more leafy as you pass above Polstreath Beach. Shortly you encounter a granite stile. Next drop down the slope to the bottom of the field. Now about 20 minutes into your walk, cross the wooden footbridge as you pass above the northern end of Polstreath Beach, noting the metal steps dropping to beach level for access.
Bear left to climb up steps to approach a gate and bench as you near Penare Point. Rest a while to take photographs if you wish. Rejoin the path and make your way to the crest of Penare Point. Cross a stile into another field, keeping to the right hand side. Beware halfway down the slope lie quite a few holes in the path caused by the entrance to badger setts. You could twist an ankle easily here! Look down onto the wide sandy crescent of Pentewan Beach arcing across to Hallane, Drennick and Black Head. In the distance it may be possible to see the red and white daymark tower of the Gribbin near Fowey. Drop down the slope, quite steeply in places. Negotiate a stile in a hedge dropping down the six feet or so by steps and a helpful metal handrail. Pass through a gap in another hedge. The shingle beach below you is Portgiskey Cove. Cross a stile and two wooden footbridges as you pass this quite secluded cove, pause a while to explore if you wish. Climb up sharply now. Cross a further two stiles to leave the fields and walk above the quite noisy road. Join the road after a few minutes. Take care where the path runs close to the road! Turn right into Pentewan again taking care at the single track bridge. Arrive at the small car park in Pentewan Village - the start of the next section.
Walk through the village towards the harbour passing the Ship Inn.This section follows Walk 7 in Bob Acton's Book. Stop at the shops to get provisions if you need them. You could well need more refreshment than you think on this quite strenuous route! Pass the public toilets and turn right into the harbour area. At the end of the cottages look for a footpath on your left going up steps through gardens to link up once again with the signed coast path behind the cottages. After a relatively steep climb the path levels off as you pass to the right of a fence along Polrudden Cliffs. Cross a stile at the crest and drop down now Black Head looming ever larger. The nearest headland is called Drennick. Drop down into a picturesque grassy valley progress is good thanks to well maintained steps. Climb up the other side to another level path. The grey-yellow shingle beach at Hallane now comes into view. This is our picnic stop. Unfortunately there is now the small matter of negotiating the cliff known as The Vans - another steep climb and descent is involved. We took a breather before making one last push up the steepish incline. Cross the narrow footbridge and begin your ascent. We were a bit bemused to meet a troupe of cub scouts in full regalia at the crest. Take care as badger setts once more dot the path. Drop down quite steep steps into a wood and cross a stream by a footbridge. Cross a small streamlet and head left for the coast path as signed at the T-junction. Now an hour into the walk we decided to leave the coastpath and head right the short distance down onto Hallane Beach. Well worth a few minutes of your time. The beach is quite secluded and to the right lies a waterfall and rock arch. We took an hour out here for a relaxed lunch and photographs.
Return to the coastpath at the T-junction and turn left then right where signed. Climb above Hallane and up steps. After a stile the path levels out. Cross another stile by the fenced path dropping down gradually looking right to see Black Head. Pass the memorial stone to A.L. Rowse, bearing right to explore the NT property of Black Head if you wish. Otherwise bear left to continue on the coast path to Trenarren. Keep right at a path fork, climbing a few steps to pass an old 2-finger wooden signpost. Pass the sign for Ropehaven Cliffs Nature Reserve. After a further 10 minutes meet a rocky path, where you turn right, downhill. Take care here if it is wet! As you pass above a cottage in Ropehaven Woods bear left up a walled lane and on into a wider lane. Turn right to pass Trenarren House and then on to a small lay-by/car park. From here you can arrange car collection for your return journey.
You are on the 'Blackhead' with Trenarren village. For car collection: Approached via St Austell By-pass turn off on the signpost for Porthpean/Trenarren. Do not turn off this road for Porthpean but continue for a short distance and you will come to a small crossroads with Trenarren to your left, go down this road which comes to a dead end with Trenarren house on your right. You will see parking places on your left, this is the recommended meeting place.
Mevagissey Accommodation: The accommodation in Mevagissey is quite spread out as the village itself is quite small. In the village centre there are primarily: Mevagissey guesthouses - these are often large houses converted into guesthouses. Other guest houses are to be found in neighbouring villages such as Pentewan and Gorran Haven, and of course, St Austell is only 10 minutes away. Mevagissey self catering - these are split into two categories: Mevagissey apartments. Cottages in Mevagissey, these are quite numerous, many are basically second homes being let out when not in use by the owners. Unfortunately, like most popular places in Cornwall this tends to increase the cost of property putting it out of reach of the local population.
The same applies to the self catering in Mevagissey as the Bed and Breakfast in Mevagissey, many self catering properties can be found in the local villages. The hotels in Mevagissey are not numerous, there are only a few around the outskirts and on the coast road. The Mevagissey camp sites and caravan parks of which there is an excellent selection are mostly in the Pentewan Valley although there are some on the coastal road going west.
For further information on Mevagissey or any other area in Cornwall. Full details can be obtained from the Cornwall Tourist Information office Tel. 0345 484950.
Getting to Mevagissey: Most visitors to the village arrive by private car. The road is mainly dual carriageway, but shortly after Plymouth the road deteriorates into single carriageway. The A30 route is very similar but does not go into a single carriageway until well into the county, the A30 is the recommended route. By Air - to Newquay airport - hire cars available.