About Porthleven

Porthleven is an ancient port and fishing village in the English County of Cornwall situated on the Atlantic Coastline just south of Helston (the most southerly town in England). It is the most southerly port on the UK mainland, and the only west facing port in Cornwall; and due to this latter aspect the harbour (that dates from around 1825) has never been easy to negotiate. Consequently, in past times it never flourished as well as other Cornish ports. 

However, because of its location it became very important for the shipping of tin and other ores (namely copper, lead and silver) from the nearby mines; and for a period in the mid 19th Century it enjoyed an extensive and thriving trade in pilchards. 

And, alike other Cornish coastal villages, Porthleven also has a darker history of Piracy & Smuggling and Wrecking (the pillaging of those ships unfortunate enough to suffer the vagaries of the treacherous coastline).  The legend of the Cornish people luring ships onto rocks however is unfounded, the treacherous nature of the coastline didn't need any further assistance to ensnare the unwary ship. There were plenty of them and plenty of unmovable rocks.

There are early photographs of Porthleven that show the vast number of sailing ships that frequented the port; more than you could imagine that such a relatively small harbour could support. In the 19th Century many ships of up to 200 tons each could be accommodated. However, today only a small fishing fleet remains; the local mining industry that dated back some 400 years has gone and Porthleven has become a quiet and secluded village retaining much charm, character and a wealth of history.

Porthleven is now a popular vacation destination all year round and is an ideal location from which to explore the southwestern-most part of England; being close to The Lizard, Penzance, Newlyn, Marazion (& St Michael's Mount), Mousehole, Lands End, St Ives, the Port of Falmouth (& the new Maritime Museum), the ancient town of Helston and Truro, the Cathedral City. And not to forget the Eden Project that is not too far away.

For the less sedentary occupations there are many water borne activities to enjoy; for example boat and fishing trips. And whilst the sea can be very dangerous along this coastline, Porthleven is a popular destination for those seeking the surf.

And if you time your visit well you may witness various spectacular events that take place around the Harbour, the most important being the Gig days (when traditional working boats are raced) and Lifeboat Day (the image to the right is of the 2001 Lifeboat Day showing a Sea-King helicopter hovering above the Penlee Lifeboat).

In recent years an annual Food Festival has also become popular and well attended.

The Harbour is the focal point of the village; and the relaxed pace of daily village life continues as it always did. There are many craft shops, a pottery, an art gallery and a stained glass studio. For the needs of the self caterers there is a bespoke fishmonger of course and a good supermarket that has a small but fine delicatessen. There are also two traditional fish & chip shops, a pasty shop and various other local shops including a Post Office. And just in case of mishaps there is a chemist and a doctor's surgery.

During the day there's plenty to do locally. There are some three miles of golden beach upon which to relax, Alternatively, taking a stroll along the coastal walks will reveal spectacular views over Mounts Bay to the west or, to the east, Loe Bar; a silted area that separates the sea from Loe Pool, Cornwall's largest inland freshwater lake (owned by The National Trust and open to the public)..

In the evenings visitors taking a stroll around the old harbour will discover the hospitality of several fine restaurants, some specialising (unsurprisingly), in fish; and three very friendly inns that also serve excellent meals.


And later in the evenings.....the sunset might be stunning!