Atop the cliffs of the Roseland Peninsula, I sit on the ledge with the wind in my hair and the breathtaking view of the Celtic Sea below me. Had I taken a few hefty steps back in time to let’s say the mid 1800s, I would have been able to spy on smugglers at work. I would have peered and wondered if I might claim a share of their loot of French brandy. That is the kind of contraband these smugglers – who also doubled up as fishermen – stored in the cellars of their farmhouses, in the village of Portloe beneath me.
If Portloe is one of the prettiest places on the peninsula, it was also the stomping grounds of smugglers. The scene was serious here, so much so that Customs had to maintain a strict watch here. I like its name a lot which seems to have been a variation of the Cornish word, Port Logh, meaning ‘cove pool’. When you climb down the steep cliffs and reach the valleys, you see the protected cove that gave it its name and also what I mean by it being one of the most charming villages you will see in the club of scenic Cornish villages.
What was once a busy pilchard fishing village has now been reduced to a quiet one where just about three boats work the seas and return with a haul of crabs and lobster.
We sat in the old Lugger Inn for a while before we set out on the coastal walk to Portholland. The bummer is that we did not complete the walk because we were a bit late for it, so we quit after we were halfway there (even this took the better part of an hour of climbing up some steep stretches). Someday we shall do the entire stretch and more. But that walk just gives and gives.
If you are singing aloud, thinking there is no one to hear your hollering apart from the husband who signed up for it when he married you, look out for the old lady sitting quietly around the bend on a bench overwhelmed by overgrown hedges.
Besides the occasional old lady popping up on the scene, we espied a man fishing from his perch upon one of the cliffs that meet the shore at some point, and possibly, his partner resting on the rocks above him. It made for such a peaceful and beautiful picture.
You can well imagine then that Portloe remains one of my favourite hideouts in Cornwall. I visit it often in my mind’s eye when I crave for the sight of those blue waters, the feel of the wind in my hair and some solitude. For there, you can wander lonely as a cloud.
Where to Stay:
Lugger Inn (www.luggerhotel.co.uk). A room at this 17th century inn will cost you upwards of £147 per night. But it has gorgeous views and a restaurant where you can tuck into the local produce.
Cove Cottage. You can book this beautiful cottage with the blue panes by the harbour through Cornwalls Cottages (www.cornwallscottages.co.uk). Prices start at roughly £110 per night for the three-bedroom cottage. But they are booked chock-a-block, so consider booking in advance. The early bird here catches the proverbial worm and what a worm this is.
What to do:
Circular walk from Pendower Beach to Veryan. The story goes that you will pass a spot in Narehead where lived a fisherman, not quite happy in his marriage. Once a week he used to lower his boat into the waters to visit his wife in Veryan and take her a booty of fish.
Walk the coastal path to the cove at Portholland.
Circular walk from Narehead to Portloe. On the path you will spot a Cold War nuclear bunker and a reef called The Whelps because many a ship met its untimely end there.