On the Western side of Mount's Bay, a mile away from Penzance, lies the small fishing port of Newlyn. But don't be fooled by its size, narrow streets or quaint cottages. Newlyn is home to one of the biggest fishing fleets in the country with crabbers, trawlers and long liners netting over £20 million worth of the highest quality fish ever year.
In fact, the port's success can be traced as far back as the 15th century. The first fishing practices involved using a 'watcher' on the cliff side who would alert men in water below to shoals of pilchards. These men would then catch the fish in seine nets, which were dragged through the water by hand.
When the pilchards decided to leave the shore for the open sea, the fisherman followed suit. They constructed sailing boats called luggers, which were able to chase the pilchards and catch them in large trailed nets. Such was their success at this method, know as 'drifting', that they were soon bringing in more produce than could be consumed by the village's inhabitants. The arrival of fish traders opened up the European market securing Newlyn's place in the industry, and employment for generations to come. During the 1880's two new piers, which are accessible at low or high tide, were constructed, allowing the port to become one of the most productive in the country.
At around the same time. a group of Newlyn based artists emerged, lead by Stanhope Forbes, and including the likes of Henry Scott Tuke, Walter Langley and Forbes' wife Elizabeth. Inspired by their romantic surroundings, the unique Cornish light and colourful characters they found themselves amongst, the artists began a movement that became known as En plain air (French for 'In the open air'). Their paintings, which can now be found proudly displayed at the Newlyn Art Gallery, celebrate harbour life in all its detail.
Newlyn is a fantastic place to stay, offering an authentic taste of Cornish life and, for those with a taste for seafood, there couldn't possibly be a better destination. The annual Newlyn Fish Festival, which takes place in late August, allows you to see this historic port at its most vibrant. The village is also well placed, with the bigger shops of Penzance just down the road and only a short drive to some of Cornwall's best days out, such as St Michael's Mount and Land's End.