Newlyn and the harbours of West Cornwall

Today started at 5.45am as we wrenched ourselves out of bed and into the dark to head to Newlyn for a peek at Monday’s fish market. Obviously Monday’s not a big day for fish, but we hoped some of the trawlers would have landed their catches over the weekend.

Newlyn was pretty grey and blustery when we arrived just before dawn, but although the market’s not open to the public we were able to have a look in from the quay, and we watched the boats sorting out nets and one come into the harbour. It was pretty quiet, but very interesting all the same. We had a walk around the trawlers and the large basin in the harbour,  then retired to the warmth of the nearest cafe and ate bacon, sausages, eggs and beans in the name of research. I discovered that a) if you want a cheeseburger at eight thirty in the morning, Newlyn is the place to go (bloke at next door table), b) there exists a (very informative and interesting) newspaper called Fishing News, and c) old Rovers don’t die, they move to Penwith (rare sight of a Rover sign outside a showroom on our way to the beach).

We took some time to have a good look at the inshore fleet in Newlyn, in particular the under ten metre boats, looking at gear and arrangements and fittings, thinking about what we’d need and how best to incorporate it into Si’s boat design from the start. Before we left we stopped in at the fishmongers’ on the quay and picked up a few pouting to practise filleting with, in time for tomorrow’s course.

Our next stop was Porthleven, gated in against the swell that was making its way into the outer porth. There were quite a few boats on moorings in the inner harbour, and a few people going over pots and nets on the quay.

We visited Mullion; a small harbour now owned by the National Trust, where three or four open boats were pulled up the slipway. You could see the old winding gear that would have been used in the past to haul boats up the beach to protect them from the weather, and allow fishing to continue all year round.


Finally we stopped in at Cadgwith and Coverack. Of the two, Cadgwith seemed to have the most active fleet of boats.  Although none of them was working today given the conditions, there were half a dozen boats of about eight or nine metres pulled up on the shingle, next to a tractor used for launching and hauling.

Coverack’s harbour is similar in size to Portscatho’s, but it was interesting to see how many more fishing boats there were, all with registration numbers and gear on board.

Today’s given us a lot of food for thought, and inspiration for modifications to Si’s design for our boat. We’re planning to visit some harbours closer to home and further east next, at Mevagissey, Polperro and Looe.


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