48 Hours In... Penzance & Newlyn

In this May issue we encourage you to explore these two towns and soak up their different charms - although 48 hours may not be long enough! With a wide variety of places to stay, restaurants to eat in and things to do, a visit to Penzance and New...

Lesley Double encourages you to explore these two towns and soak up their different charms - although 48 hours may not be long enough!

Being the first and last major town in Cornwall has been very good for Penzance. As the first large settlement encountered when sailing past Land's End, Penzance endured a steady stream of invaders: Vikings and Saxons, French, Spanish, even Turkish pirates.

Newlyn is still one of the most important fishing ports in the country. Once two separate towns, Penzance and Newlyn are now joined and could be mistaken for one town were it not for the completely different feel each one contains.

Where can we stay?

There is a wide selection of different types of accommodation in Penzance and Newlyn, from the luxurious and extravagant to places for those on a budget. The Queens Hotel (01736) 362371 on the promenade and the Hotel Penzance (01736) 363117 on the east side of Penzance both have fabulous views over Mount's Bay and St Michael's Mount. If you want something different, try the Penzance Arts Club (01736) 363761 in picturesque Chapel Street. Tree-lined Alexandra Road is full of Victorian houses, many of which have been turned into small family-run guesthouses and hotels. Try the Pendennis Guest House (01736) 363823 or the Dunedin Hotel (01736) 362652. Penzance Backpackers (01736) 363836 is also in Alexandra Road.

A Newlyn guesthouse with beautiful views of the harbour and Mount's Bay is the appropriately named Harbour View Guest House (01736) 331315. High above Newlyn, and also with fantastic views, is the Panorama Hotel (01736) 368498. Although there are no caravan sites in Penzance and Newlyn, there are several just outside: Penlee Caravan Park (01736) 732861 lies on the coast between Newlyn and Mousehole, and Bone Valley Caravan Park (01736) 360313 is in a sheltered area inland. Both sites are open all year. Finally, a perfect place for the active young and young-at-heart is Penzance Youth Hostel (0870) 7705992, a beautiful Georgian manor house at Castle Horneck.

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Around town

Penzance's main shopping area is called Market Jew Street, a name which comes from the Cornish marghas yow or 'Thursday market'. At the top of this street, a statue to Humphry Davy, the town's most famous son and the inventor of the Davy Miner's Lamp, looks down on passers-by. Behind him is the dome-roofed old Market House, now home to a selection of shops.

A walk down Chapel Street can take minutes or hours, depending on how many of its fascinating places attract your attention along the way. Here you will find some of the oldest and most unusual buildings in Penzance, such as the colourful Egyptian House, dated 1836, and the Turks Head Inn - an inn has stood on this site since the 13th century. At the bottom of Chapel Street the road forks: one fork leads to an area called The Barbican, the harbour and Scillonian dock, with the other fork leading to the open-air lido of the Jubilee Pool, which dates from the 1930s, and the Yacht Inn, a gorgeous art deco building.

The promenade stretches from the Jubilee Pool to Newlyn. Here you can enjoy a stroll on the flat. Stop and watch the bowlers at Bolitho Gardens, or the model boats on the Boating Lake opposite, or just enjoy the views over Mount's Bay.

Newlyn still thrives as a fishing port: three piers protect the fishing fleet and tiny fishermen's cottages cling to the side of the inland hills. Next to the harbour is the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, the Penlee Lifeboat Ivan Ellen, and the fish market and, just round the corner, a statue, erected only last year, which pays tribute to the hard and dangerous work the fishermen do to bring home their catch.

Three things to take home

Fish - you can't visit Newlyn without buying some fish, so visit a selection of the many fish shops along the Coombe, or another good place is Stevenson's Fish Boutique at the Wharfside Shopping Centre. Straight from the harbour, it couldn't be any fresher.

Soap - The Soap Shop in Causewayhead, Penzance sells handmade soaps made from vegetable and essential oils, courtesy of Jean Barry.

Vintage - Kitts Couture in Chapel Street is listed in the top five vintage clothes' shops in the country, selling all manner of vintage clothing, jewellery, handbags and accessories.

Eating out

As accommodation suits all pockets, so there are restaurants and caf�s to suit

all tastes. The Smugglers Restaurant (01736) 331501 in Newlyn, Harris's Restaurant (01736) 364408 and The Abbey Restaurant (01736) 330680 in Penzance all specialise in Newlyn fish and are particular about using local, seasonal produce. The Admiral Benbow (01736) 363448 in Chapel Street serves excellent food in a history-laden and atmospheric inn.

The health conscious need have no worries at Archie Brown's Vegetarian Restaurant (01736) 362828 or Summer House (01736) 363744. Tregoddick is set in 18 acres of farmland at Madron, just outside Penzance, and has views across to St Michael's Mount. Two caf�s are worth trying: Blue Bay (01736) 350483 at the Wharfside is where you can sit outside and watch the world go by, and Mackerel Sky (01736) 366866 serves the most beautifully decorated sandwiches you could hope to find.