Kernow agas dynargh or, welcome to Cornwall.
We know that Cornwall is the most beautiful county in Britain, with its mix of rugged coast, beautiful beaches, rolling green countryside, top restaurants and a rich heritage of mining, fishing, rebellion and of course, pirates and smugglers, but in Looe, we think we’ve discovered one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets.
Food and drink…restaurants and pubs.
Every visitor must sample the world-famous Cornish Pasty. They’re all pretty good but Sarah’s makes the best– lots of orthodox and some eccentric mixes. Pasty Presto is a good place to eat, have a coffee and read the papers, but for the best coffee house in town you must go to Larsson’s: warm, cosy, quirky, and that’s just Martin, the owner.
Martin’s Dairy in East Looe is pretty good for cakes, creams, scones and, of course, the Cornish cream tea, but be warned, they sell out quickly – it’s all made on the premises, fresh on the day.
We’ve three award winning restaurants in Looe; Squid Ink – featured in the top ten of the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall, Michelin-recommended restaurant Trawler’s on the Quay which scooped gold at the 2011 Cornish Tourism Awards (Nov 11) and their five star sister hotel & restaurant, Barclay House. The Old Sail Loft (next to Trawlers) delivers good quality food and wine, but allow time to relax over your meal as they don’t do fast food! Mawgans, The Smugglers Cottage, Papa Nino’s and Morrell’s are all good but you need to build up your appetite if you intend popping into Morrell’s Bistro as the portions are extremely generous. If you fancy something a little more low key, there’s the Little Pizza House – ask for Sacha. Ocean and Earth, the Thai, is great and fast becoming a firm favourite in the town.
If you’re thinking of taking home some fish or seafood, Pengelly’s on the quayside supply to restaurants and stores across the UK and Europe, but they’ll be more than happy to sort you out.
Harvey’s do great fish ‘n’ chips to take away but mind the seagulls! They don’t wait to be asked down here!
If you like a decent pint and reasonable pub grub in an historical setting and, in the winter, a wonderful open fire, check out The Salutation in East Looe.
Fancy a sing song? try The Jolly Sailor in West Looe for sea-shanties on Tuesdays and Thursdays or the Fisherman’s Arms or The Bullers back over on East Looe on a Friday, all historic pubs with coal fires, long and often grisly histories. Larsson’s also hold music evenings from time to time so its worth keeping an eye on his window for any promotional advertising.
Also on this side of the Quay but up the hill at Hannafore, Tom Sawyers is a great place for a drink and bite to eat as you gaze out to sea and across to Looe Island.
Slightly further afield, the Inn on the Shore at Downderry, across the harbour is very good value with a great beach – booking is recommended for Sunday lunch, and in the same town, one of the best restaurants around these parts.. The Blue Plate is definitely worth a visit
Walk it off
Remember how to relax. Go crabbing off the pier, or try out the coastal path. It’s wild and rugged in parts, but you don’t have to do it all at once. The walk around the headland to Polperro will take about 2-3 hours. Have a well-deserved drink in The Blue Peter before getting the bus, taxi or take boat back.
If the countryside is more your thing, then soak up the peace and beauty of the heavily-wooded Kilminorth Woods in the Looe Valley – if you walk too far, get the train back. There is a Looe Valley Rail Ale Tour which stops at various points with some really nice country pubs along the route.
Too many to mention here but Looe offers something for everyone, from the ferry from East to West Looe (40p – saves the long walk to the bridge!), to trips to Looe Island and to Polperro and Fowey. Take a walk along both sides of the quay and you’ll find plenty of skippers happy to take you out for either pleasure or fishing trips. If you looking for something tailor-made, we can give them a ring for you.
Looe Island is very much a must-see. Once the home to two indomitable sisters for about 60 years, it’s now an uninhabited maritime and bird reserve with a long history of smuggling, piracy and ghost experts looking for ‘proof’ of the many murders and uncomfortable deaths that happened at the height of it’s smuggling past..
Spirit of adventure
For centuries Looe has depended on the sea for its living. It’s now the home of shark, reef and conger fishing. The skippers in the harbour will take out the experienced fisherman or the absolute beginner to hunt the shark. Because of dwindling stocks all sharks caught are returned to the sea.
Looe has an established sailing, snorkling and scuba centre – it’s the traditional home of the Redwing, designed in the 1930s specifically for Looe harbour. And now you can enjoy the white-knuckle thrill of the high-speed super-ribs and ski-jets.
By the way, for those whose adventures are carried out at a more sedate pace, there’s a pretty good golf course on the edge of town. Tennis and green bowling is at Hannafore Point. Siblyback Lake offers kayaking, windsurfing, trout fishing and beautiful walks.
A stroll in the garden, perhaps
The unspoilt natural landscape is reason enough to come here, but it gets better. The internationally famous Eden Project is always worth a visit, just a 40 minute drive from Looe.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, recently voted the nation’s favourite garden is a restored masterpiece
Nearer to home the Seaton Valley Countryside Park offers magnificent views and is home to otters, kingfishers, heron and egrets. And there is a monkey sanctuary, home to many rare species, a couple of miles up the main road.
The National Trust boasts some great must-sees in this area including Antony – used recently for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Also close to Looe, Cotehele is definitely worth a visit.
Life’s a beach…sandcastles and ice-cream
Anybody who has watched the BBC TV series Coast will know all about Cornwall’s unparalleled beaches – mile after mile of golden sand blessed by the best climate in Britain. A short stroll from Anchor Lights takes you to Looe’s sandy beach. The Banjo Pier at one end and a rocky outcrop at the other mean that it’s a sheltered haven, a suntrap, washed and cleaned daily.
Plaidy beach and Hannifore beach are within walking distance.
While you‘re there enjoy the often bizarre range of Treleaven’s award-winning ice-creams.
Festivals and fireworks
The Sunday Times reckons that Looe is the fourth best town to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We’re not going to disagree. The town is a riot of colour, people wearing fancy dress, and then watching the fireworks off Banjo Pier at midnight.
Throughout the year there’s always something going on, the annual Festival by The Sea which incudes the seriously competitive raft race, the bi-annual Lugger Regatta, the atmospheric Making Waves music festival every September and 2012 sees the very first Looe Food and Drink Festival in June. Check out the ‘What’s On’ section of this website for more details.