Looe and Polperro: two Cornish villages

Looe, Cornwall

Welcome to this week´s edition of Cornwall Sunday.

Along the Cornish coast are Looe and Polperro. Once known for shipping, fishing and piracy, today they are merely two enchanting little villages with narrow, winding streets, lively harbours and picturesque cottages, many with those delightfully ancient low doors and windows.



Looe is actually two: East and West Looe, connected by a cool Victorian footbridge. There´s a small beach, sandcastle-building gear for sale and heaps of quirky shops and tea-rooms.

As we walked along East Looe harbour eating ice cream, a particularly aggressive sea gull honed in on my oldest daughter, Alexandra. He dived, slapped her face with a wing, pinched the entire ice cream cone and flew off triumphantly. When the cheeky bird was spotted by his brothers, an airborne battle over ice cream ensued. He lost!

Back on the ground, that was small comfort to Alex. She normally talks a mile a minute. Now she was stunned into silence. The look on her face… priceless! Like a good mum, I suppose I should have shown concern. But li´l sis and I just couldn’t help laughing our heads off. She hasn’t looked at sea gulls in the same way since.

Mugshots of possible culprits:
Sea gull in East Looe, Cornwall

Sea gull in East Looe, Cornwall

Looe. And Alex, pre-trauma:
Looe, Cornwall

In Looe, this is probably a safer bet:
Looe ice cream


Polperro, Cornwall

We adored Polperro at first sight. Like Looe. it’s a pretty village with a bustling harbour and adorably quirky, old houses. But Polperro also seemed to offer a more vivid picture of interesting Cornish smuggling history.

Polperro, Cornwall

In the late 1700s, Britain had wars to fight – with France and with the pesky American colonies, you know. These wars were financed in the normal way, by raising taxes.

Feeling taxed half to death, the local fishermen had to make a living somehow. Smuggling and privateering seem to have been especially prolific in Polperro, perhaps because of its isolated location and the opportunity to stack the goods in the numerous secluded coves along the sea shore.

It wasn’t as frowned upon as one would think either. In the late 1700s, seafaring smugglers even had their own banker in town, a Mr. Zephaniah Job. Today, there’s a Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. Unless you´re a customs officer, how can you not love a place like that?

Polperro, Cornwall

From Polperro’s beaches, the contraband was quickly dispersed, much of it brought inland across Bodmin Moor, where smugglers often stopped off at Jamaica Inn.

Next time, I´ll have a look at the smuggler museum. And I hear Polperro have the most terrific sunsets! I can easily see myself hiring a cottage and staying a while. There was even a job opening…

Sign in Polperro shop window

Polperro, Cornwall

Have you been in Polperro? Or Looe?



42 Responses to “Looe and Polperro: two Cornish villages”

  1. Leigh 15 April 2012 1701 #

    Love the sign and the colour of the houses in the villages. They look like fun places to explore.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 April 2012 1714 #

      They really were fun to explore, Leigh – just like the rest of Cornwall.

  2. Katrina 16 April 2012 0218 #

    So cute! Reminds me of Astoria, Oregon. 🙂

    ps: that’s a mighty big ice cream cone!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1212 #

      Really? I´ve heard a bit about Oregon lately. Didn´t know it (or parts of it) resembled Cornwall. Interesting…

  3. Shelly 16 April 2012 0734 #

    That sign is awesome! Did you ask about the job opening just to see what it was really for? Was it a joke? Love it! Great post as always! The photos of the village make me want to visit!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1213 #

      Haha, no, I didn´t enquire further.

  4. wftristan 16 April 2012 1025 #

    Weird I was chatting to my girlfriend this weekend about Looe – I went there as a kid so have some fond memories – The job opening made me laugh.

    great stuff – Will share on Twitter.


    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1214 #

      Must have been lovely to be a child in such a beautiful place!

  5. Goody 16 April 2012 1458 #

    I love the sign! I could send my application!! 🙂 the shot of the ice cream is so weird! Neve r heard about this villages , but look great as most of English spots!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1215 #

      England is full of jewels…

  6. Sheen 16 April 2012 1503 #

    The job opening is just hilarious. I don’t know if that thing is really serious or not. Was there anyone applied for the job? That would be hilarious! I must say that both places are just so lovely. Wanna go there in the future. Thanks for sharing how beautiful these places are!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1216 #

      Not sure if they received any applications 🙂

  7. Emme Rogers 16 April 2012 1626 #

    That sign is hilarious!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1217 #

      Isn´t it…

  8. Lisa 16 April 2012 2036 #

    Such lovely Cornish villages – well except for the criminal seagulls!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1218 #

      Lovely, indeed! Could get used to the gulls, I suppose.

  9. InsideJourneys 17 April 2012 0102 #

    I was getting ready to send photos of my car and boat but couldn’t see where to send. Fascinating post, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1208 #

      I think I´d like to see photos of your car and boat 🙂

  10. Kazzsandra 17 April 2012 0626 #

    I have never been to Polperro or Looe but this makes me think to really plan and go to this place..Thanks for the idea..

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1218 #

      Both are very much worth a visit 🙂

  11. ItalianNotes 18 April 2012 0928 #

    I see I ought to go to Cornwall. Seems so nice and old fashioned British.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 18 April 2012 1220 #

      It really is!

  12. Harry 18 April 2012 1132 #

    A place with its own Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing. I guess a lot of people learned their trade in that place. At the very least, they might have been inspired by the place and its history.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1201 #

      Love the idea of a smuggling museum. So irreverent.

  13. Angela 18 April 2012 1459 #

    Lovely fishing villages, I bet fish there is delicious!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1156 #

      Oh, it was!

  14. dtravelsround 18 April 2012 2036 #

    I’ve never been!! They look enchanting though!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1157 #

      I think you’d like them 🙂

  15. Alexa Meisler 18 April 2012 2105 #

    Polperro looks absolutely spectacular. It looks so peaceful too but you have to watch out for those sea gulls because they seem like they’re on a mission to disturb your peace!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1158 #

      I think if you throw food at them, even just once, you – and everyone else – is sold. Persistent creatures, sea gulls.

  16. Andrea 18 April 2012 2151 #

    Can’t say I’ve been to either of these but I appreciate the charm and humour! Looks so pretty from the water (I thought that was Scandinavia at first glance!)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1159 #

      There are certain similarities.

  17. Annie - FootTracker 19 April 2012 1137 #

    LOL I laughed so hard at the job post…man, they ask for a lot from a woman over there…must have everything XD

    It looks like a cute little town there though, reminds me when I was living in New Zealand.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1200 #

      Tough being a woman in a fisherman’s world.

  18. Anna 20 April 2012 0033 #

    When I saw the first picture, I thought it was Dublin… There are some places in Ireland which look really like these.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 June 2012 1201 #

      Not surprising really. It’s not that far away.

  19. 30Traveler 15 November 2012 1133 #

    one of my regrets from my time living in England was not making it down to Cornwall. Nice to get a vicarious tour!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 November 2012 1557 #

      Cornwall is my faourite part of England 🙂

      • WendiG 15 December 2012 0157 #

        I’ve visited twice and can’t wait to go back in the summer!
        It’s almost like travelling through a fairy tale.
        And the people are lovely.
        Thanks for the fond memories. <3

        • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 0956 #

          Thanks for stopping by, Wendi. I’m hoping to find time for a visit in Cornwall this summer as well 🙂

          • WendiG 16 December 2012 0227


            If we time it right…I’ll be there the last weekend of June through the first weekend of July. Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! Have a reunion and a birthday to celebrate in that span. How nice if we could do tea somewhere along the way…. 🙂

          • Anne-Sophie Redisch 16 December 2012 1747

            We’ve usually travelled in Britain right around that time. The beginning of July usually works very well, as school isn’t yet out there. Meeting for tea would be very nice.

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