Whizzing down the narrow main road into Polperro on board Lizzie, one of the village’s double decker electric transports is one of the best introductions to a new location one could wish for. The steep valley walls on each side of the road are covered with charming houses and fisherman’s cottages scattered amidst the trees and other greenery clinging to the hillside as you make your way down the valley towards the shops, pubs and restaurants surrounding the harbour below.
I’d been in the village for less than twenty four hours and my desire to ride this unique form of transportation had got the better of me. My other half had chosen to wander the narrow streets in search of mementos for friends and family. Her loss perhaps, but I doubt it from the goodies and experiences she brought back with her.
We’d parted company shortly after eating a deliciously hearty breakfast served in the dinning room of Natal House, the bed and breakfast we were staying in for our weekend away in Polperro. We’d arrived in Polperro the evening before, in dire need of a recuperating weekend, and Natal House had been one of the many superb accommodation providers that was recommended by friends and a solid search online. Just take a look at Trip Advisor and you’ll see what I mean.
On arrival at Natal House we were met by Jackie, who along with husband Simon runs the unusually named b&b. “It was built in 1923 by a Mr Hockin, a Cornishman, who spent some time in the Natal province of South Africa,” explained Jackie. “Not much else is known about him.”
The couple were now well into their second year of offering the superb accommodation following a major refurbishment a couple of years ago. “We’re booked up much of the time due to the great response we get from people who’ve stayed with us,” says Simon. “We also get a lot of passers-by enquiring.” The ‘no vacancies’ sign that sits above the Natal House sign was clearly not putting potential visitors off.
Polperro itself is tiny, a few very narrow lanes provide the visitor with a superb warren of intriguing pubs and restaurants, all worth a visit if you’ve got the time. That first night the pair of us had spent a bit of time wandering the lanes looking at menus pinned to the walls of the broad range of restaurants.
As we wandered the lanes the place at first appeared to be deserted, no cars and no people except for those already seated in the restaurants and pubs. We could hear singing echoing around the lanes and as we headed in the direction of the sounds we came across crowds of onlookers listening to the Polperro Fishermen’s Choir who were performing beside the harbour. A real treat that one member of the choir told me was a regular occurrence.
We passed through the crowd after listening to the heavenly sound for a few minutes. It was a romantic vision, seeing the men all dressed up, their voices drifting as the light of the evening summer sun threw long shadows across the harbour waters.
Not far away we came across The Blue Peter public house, its reputation for being a popular haunt for visitors and locals alike soon proved to be correct. Patrons crowded the place, many just having an evening tipple, others like us seeking something tasty. I’d been told by Jackie and Steve at Natal House that the pub produced the best fish and chips. My partner opted for the chef’s Fishcake of the Day and I followed Jackie and Steve’s advice. I’m not used to describing Fish and Chips as delicious or superb but these are the words that come to mind. Possibly the lightest batter I’d ever come across.
Our appetites sated we strolled back through the lanes to our accommodation. Tip toeing into the room the pair of us turned in for the night. It was at this time I noticed just how much attention to detail the owners of Natal House had put into the place. Not one misplaced paint splodge, not one piece of poorly chosen furniture. It was as comfortable as a bed and breakfast could be. No wonder its reviews are so good.
Once I’d alighted from the electric transport that morning, after our short journey along the valley, I wandered down through the village to join my partner at The Museum Tearoom, which is, funnily enough, next to the village’s heritage museum. A light snack before heading next door.
The Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing, to give it its full title, houses a collection of exhibits and 19th century photographs depicting life in Polperro over the years. It’s a superb place to pop in and spend and hour or so.
The two of us decided to head up through the village to the cliffs above for an afternoon walk. Polperro is a great place to base yourself if you’re one of the many who enjoy a proper walk in an area full of history. At the top of the cliffs one can look down on the small fishing boats bobbing about in the harbour waters. I’ve been told that visitors can walk the coastal path to Looe which takes you past Talland Bay and on to Hannafore Beach in Looe itself. There are buses back to Polperro if you want to give the walk back a miss.
We opted to head back down to the harbour area to see if we could catch one of the boats taking people out fishing or on a tour of the coastal areas. Oliver Puckey’s boat Smuggler was our choice on this occasion, although there are several other boats available. The Polperro boats offer a variety of trips, from scenic coastal trips to two hour fishing trips. The coastal trip provided a great way to see the sea birds. Although there are also opportunities to see dolphins and basking sharks we didn’t encounter any on this occasion.
Our feet firmly back on Terra Firma, we headed back to the Bed and Breakfast to change before the heading out again in search of an evening meal.
Dining that evening was at Couch’s restaurant, whose delicious menu had much to offer. My partner chose the Cod, served with parsley crushed potato, tomato vinegarette and tomato hot sauce. I chose the Rump of Lamb, sourced locally, served with slow roasted fondant potato, green beans and red wine sauce. The friendly staff chose the right moment to clear the table and offer the dessert menu. Panna Cotta for me and Apple Tatin for my partner. Highly recommended.
Sadly this was our last night in one of Cornwall’s most beautiful harbour villages. It had been a brief but full weekend. One can’t fault Polperro, it has everything a visitor to Cornwall is looking for. Heritage, boat trips, walking, entertainment for children, pubs, shopping, restaurants and much much more. Whether you want a romantic weekend away or a family holiday the place has it all.
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