Cornwall’s South East corner is a secret delight and boasts beautiful old harbours, stunning seaside views and plenty to do

Cornwall’s South East corner is a secret delight and boasts beautiful old harbours, stunning seaside views and plenty to do, writes EWEN MACDONALD

South East Cornwall is made up of a number of ancient - and still working - ports, sheltered coves and sandy beaches and some of the best fish and chips you will ever eat (much of the fish served has been caught in the sea which flows into the harbour just few feet away).

Close your eyes and imagine the perfect picturesque Cornish fishing village: it will have a harbour running through its centre, battered fishing boats and the odd water taxi and pleasure boat filling its tidal water. Sitting above it there will be rows of old fisherman’s cottages and grand houses all flowing towards the sea. There is a sandy beach for play, a harbour wall to wander along and freshly caught local fish battered to perfection for lunch. Now open your eyes: you are in Looe.

A stunning - and fully working - harbour sits at its centre splitting the town into East and West Looe. A sandy beach and lively town completes the picture. And this month there will be plenty to do in Looe with the second annual Looe Literary Festival running 12-15 November. This photogenic town is the perfect setting as it has been the stage and inspiration for many writers and their novels.

Victorian writers Wilkie Collins and William Thackeray both wrote about the town, the prolific Jean Plaidy both lived and took her name from a nearby beach. More recently Sarah Winman’s When God Was A Rabbit and Judy Finnigan’s Eloise are both based in the town. Incidentally Judy Finnigan and husband Richard Madeley are proud patrons of the festival.

The Looe Literary Festival is now in its second year - the baby is up and toddling, and like all two-year-olds its personality is already becoming discernible,’ says Richard. Writers, artists and musicians are drawn to Cornwall for powerful reasons. The atmosphere, the light, the pure sense of “otherness”.

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Cornwall has developed in its own way and in its own time. As you stroll around the festival’s locations, you may well sense this difference. It is certainly empowering, for a writer.’

Among those appearing are National Treasure’ Christopher Biggins and there will be a children’s workshop with Kev Sutherland from Marvel comics as well as talks and lectures from photographers, crime fiction writers and historians.

One has to wonder if Daphne du Maurier would have created her great novels, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, if she had been holed up in a home counties cottage, rather than close to the wild and wide Atlantic stream,’ adds Richard.

Out and About in Looe

Looe is a quintessentially quaint ancient harbour town is worth a visit at any time of year - bring your camera and get stuck in.

As with most of Cornwall, the views are best enjoyed on foot. Check out the new Looe Walking Routes - available at looeguide.co.uk

Head for the Looe Gaol and Guildhall Museum which sits in one of the oldest buildings in Looe. Reportedly haunted, you are immediately transported into the 16th century by its Tudor beams and the wooden floor. Worth the visit for its collection of smuggling memorabilia, there is also general history and model boats.

Fishing is big business here - and there is plenty of pleasure in it too. Charter your own fishing boat or join the experts on reef and shark fishing trips. Catch pollack, cod and more all year round.


Set in beautiful woodland and nestled into the side of the south Cornish coast between Looe and Seaton, Wild Futures’ Monkey Sanctuary has been offering a safe haven for monkeys since 1964. The sanctuary cares for a range of different species of rescued monkeys, and offers a chance to meet some of its amazing monkey residents and wildlife inhabitants.


Head down the road to Polperro and stroll down to the harbour, pop into its model village, its shell house and Rolly’s sweet shop where you can watch fudge being made, before deciding where to enjoy lunch or a Cornish cream tea.

A visit to Lostwithiel is a must. This stunning town has become something of an antique-lovers haven with plenty of antique dealers and the Lostwithiel Antiques and Collectors Market held once a month. As well as being known as the Antiques Capital of Cornwall, there are lots of independent shops that make an afternoon shopping here a pleasure.

Talland Bay boasts a stunning beach and its famous Beach Café is one of the best in Cornwall. tallandbaybeachcafe.co.uk