The English Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman once described Portloe as “one of the least spoiled and most impressive of Cornish fishing villages”. After spending a few hours there just after Christmas, the English travel-blogger Richard Field said “this is a bit bloody nice”. Read on to find out why.
Arriving at Portloe’s car park on a cold but sunny December day, and casually walking past the honesty payment box, we had the village all to ourselves. In the height of summer, I imagine there would be a very different scenario.
The single lane approach road to Portloe, off the A3078 road which cuts through the peaceful Roseland Peninsula on Cornwall’s south coast is extremely narrow and is not much wider than my Skoda Fabia – it was obviously not intended for today’s bigger cars. There are no shops in the village and the nearest is in the next village of Veryan two miles away – a long way to go to pop out for a pint of milk!
Portloe was once a busy Pilchard fishing port, but nowadays less than a handful of fishermen make a living here, mainly fishing for crab and lobster. Lobster pots are stacked up on the shingle beach in front of the harbour walls. Steep cliffs enclose Portloe and whitewashed cottages are dotted around this tiny piece of heaven, with headlands and bays visible in the distance. If ITV ever need a new light drama to replace Doc Martin, this would be the ideal place to set it.
The Lugger Hotel is the place to stay if you fancy an overnight break in Portloe. It’s the last building before you reach the harbour slipway, and what was once a 17th century inn is now a boutique spa hotel. Non-residents are allowed to eat and drink here, so we warmed ourselves up with a hot chocolate in the conservatory overlooking the crashing waves. The food looked tasty, and not far off Michelin star standards (and prices).
The hotel offers winter storm watching packages, which sound right up my street. You can spend the day walking the magnificent South West Coast Path (wellies, brollies and macs are provided), and are given toasted crumpets and hot toddies in front of a roaring fire when you return.
At the other end of the scale is the village’s only pub, The Ship Inn (it seems like there is a law that all Cornish villages must have at least one pub called The Ship) serves traditional pub-grub, decent beer and is decorated with nautical nick-nacks. Smoke rises from the chimney, as a welcoming fire crackles away.
As I sat nursing a pint of Tribute, I was pretty sure Portloe hadn’t changed a jot since Sir John Betjeman’s visit, and I was pretty sure it’ll be exactly the same in another 100 years.