South facing Mousehole (pronounced locally as 'Mowzel') can be found on the Cornish South coast, between Penzance and Lands End. Built from famously fine grained granite from nearby Lamorna, its tightly packed cottages enjoy magical sea and harbour views. In 1930 Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas described Mousehole as the 'loveliest village in England', though some locals would argue that Cornwall is very much apart from England.
The village was seen as a the most significant fishing port in the area from the 13th century up until the 16th century, when the neighboring harbours of Penzance and Newlyn began to dominate. In 1595, Mousehole was the unfortunate landing spot for a Spanish invasion. The entire village was burned to the ground. The only surviving property was a public house, the Keigwin Arms, whose owner Jenkyn Keigwin defiantly stood by his house before being fatally shot by a Spanish musketeer.
Mousehole was home to Dolly Pentreath, widely accepted to be the last native speaker of the Cornish language. Dolly, who lived from 1692 to 1777, is remembered as a rather strong character. She was known for smoking a pipe, drinking as much ale as any man and for once chasing a Naval press-gang back to their boats, hatchet in hand, before they had a chance to recruit any of the village's young men. They didn't return.
The children's book The Mousehole Cat, which I loved having read to me as a child, tells the story of Tom Bawcock and his beloved black cat, Mowzer. Blighted by a particularly stormy winter, the village was dangerously low on food. One day Tom sets off in his fishing boat to brave the wild seas and save the day. The storm, represented by a 'storm cat' is thankfully soothed by Mowzer's purring, allowing Tom to catch enough pilchards to feed the whole village. On his return all the fish are baked into the now famous Starygazy pie.
Today, Mousehole offers a true taste of Cornwall and all of its fishing heritage. With its small, yet sandy, beach protected inside the harbour walls, it is a safe place for children to swim. The village boasts some wonderful restaurants and pubs, with fresh fish a staple of course. It is quite easy to pass the time wondering along the village's cobbled streets exploring the many craft shops and galleries, but if you should like to see some of the surrounding area you are well placed, with the village on the South West Coast Path. Following the path West will lead you to other beauty spots such as Lamorna, Porthcurno (home of the fabulous Minack Theatre) and eventually Lands End. In the other direction you'll come across Newlyn (the Newlyn Art Gallery is a must for the artistically inclined) and the larger town of Penzance.