How to make the most of a staycation in Looe and Polperro
Early summer is a marvellous time of year to visit Cornwall, with long daylight hours, warming seas, quiet beaches and pretty sea pinks in bloom. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d travelled abroad with the aquamarine waters sparkling in the sunshine and palm trees gently waving in the breeze.
Whether a first-time visitor or a regular to the area, make the most of your staycation in sunny south east Cornwall with our guide to Looe, Polperro and Talland Bay, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A working fishing port, the pretty town of Looe offers everything required from a Cornish holiday beside the sea. From the quaint cottages to the cosy cafés and wide, sandy beach. Meander along the narrow streets and step inside one of the town's most historic buildings, the Old Guildhall Museum and Gaol. The one-time town hall houses a display telling Looe’s history of fishing, boat building and smuggling.
Across the harbour in West Looe and more of the town’s heritage is on display at the newly opened Old Sardine Factory. As the name suggests, this former sardine processing factory has been carefully rebuilt and developed to tell Looe’s maritime story. It also houses the Sardine Factory Restaurant serving delicious fresh seafood. Continue strolling westwards along to Hannafore Point, which boasts views out across Looe Island and the shingly Hannafore Beach, a year-round dog-friendly spot.
A visit to Looe wouldn’t be complete without trying one of Cornwall’s best pasties. Sarah’s Pasty Shop is top with those in the know, selling freshly baked goods from the old net stores below a traditional fisherman’s cottage.
Take a boat trip to Looe Island, a marine nature reserve, or hop aboard the scenic Looe Valley Line for beautiful woodland and estuary views. There are plenty of colourful local events to look out for too, including the Looe Raft Race (9th June 2019), organised by Looe Boat Owners Association in support of Looe RNLI. As well as the Looe Literary Festival, which takes place in November each year.
This picture-perfect fishing village features pretty cottages clinging to steep-sided slopes and a sheltered harbour ready to welcome home smugglers (who’ve long since retreated into the history books).
The first port of call for any visitor should be the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. Followed by a jaunt down to the beach for a boat trip or nose around Willy Wilcox cave, a former smuggler’s haunt. There is also a tidal sea pool, Chapel Pool, for those ready to brave a refreshing dip. Then browse the numerous local artists’ galleries and fudge shops selling a tempting array of flavours. And enjoy a local ale in the Three Pilchards or Blue Peter Inn, both packed full of local character.
Visit in June for the Polperro Festival, a celebration of the coming of summer featuring a mixture of music, dance, theatre and parades.
Nestled between Looe and Polperro, Talland Bay is made up of twin coves, Talland Sand to the west and Rotterdam Beach to the east. The peaceful little cove of Talland Sands opens up into a lovely beach as the tide recedes. Making it a great spot for beach picnics, swimming or kayaking and devouring yummy Roskilly’s ice cream from the beach café. The sleepy parish of Talland consists of little else other than the cliff-top church and endless sea vistas. But eagle-eyed visitors may spot local celebrity residents Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.
Walk the coast path linking Looe, Talland Bay and Polperro, and be sure to leave time for a detour up the hill to Talland Bay Hotel for afternoon tea, or one of the finest crab sandwiches in Cornwall.