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07 July 2020

Things to do in Newlyn

by Dee Ivall

Newlyn is a small town full of character. It’s a 25-minute drive southwest from Three Mile Beach and just along the coast from Penzance. Approaching it along the promenade, you see a warren of cottages, slipways and slopes rising up the hill in front of you. It’s the heart of Cornwall’s fishing industry and always has been. It’s proper Cornwall.

Fishy to-dos: Newlyn Harbour

This one is for the early birds. If you want to see what goes down at the legendary Newlyn fish market, you can. You’ll just need to get there by 4 am-ish. This is where buyers for restaurants from all over the country come to net their fill of the super-fresh catches landed that morning. Graders and sorters organise the hauls into sizes and species, and then the auctioneer and the buyers do their thing while fishermen await their wages. It’s a real experience, and it’s the real deal.

If you want to buy fish to take back to your beach house kitchen or BBQ, you’ll be in heaven. The string of fishmongers along the front on the road to Mousehole stocks everything that’s fresh and seasonal. Don’t forget to grab some crabmeat for a must-have Cornish sandwich.

If you want to go out fishing, that’s possible too. You won’t be able to join the working fishermen themselves – they have a serious job to do. But you can jump on a boat at Penzance with Mermaid Pleasure Trips. With them, you can choose a short, family-friendly trip to catch mackerel or you can venture further for a chance of catching all sorts with pretty-much-guaranteed dolphin sightings.

Arty to-dos

There’s a lot that’s creative in Newlyn.

The Newlyn School is one of the most important stories in Cornish art history. It was a colony of artists, including Stanhope Forbes, who, in the 1880s through to early 20th century, moved to Newlyn (and St Ives). They loved its incredible natural light quality, plus the never-dull life of the fishing community and drama of the sea as subject matter. Their impressionist works can be seen in the Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance, and finding the locations featured in the most famous paintings is an art-lovers pastime that proves how little this town has changed.

And there’s still a strong art scene in Newlyn today.

There’s the public Newlyn Gallery – found in a stunning Passmore Edwards building on the green at the end of the Promenade. This is where you’ll be able to take in modern art by local, national, and international artists working in all media.

Then, there are Coddiwomple and Jupiter – two independent galleries that are always worth a visit, if you’re in the art collecting mood.

And if viewing art isn’t enough, The Newlyn School of Art offers courses and classes tutored by local working artists, including some of those geniuses working out of the legendary Porthmeor Studios, St Ives.

Championing art of another kind is the Newlyn Filmhouse. This is where to catch arthouse films, live theatre and opera broadcasts, and special releases.


Between Penzance and Newlyn, in an area known as Wherrytown, there’s a great local skatepark for kids. Ready for the spec? It has two levels, with a raised platform, a pole jam, and a curved ledge on one side. There’s also a flat bank with a rail and two hubbas, a kicker gap, a funbox with manny pad, a pump bump and a flat and roll-over rail, and two hipped quarter pipes. The surfaces are smooth with a wide variation in obstacles. It’s a good place for hitting all the lines or simply learning the basics.

Three shop stops in Newlyn

1. The Strand is a great vintage curiosity shop in an old bank building. Have a good rummage, and you’re bound to find yourself a prize.

2. Newlyn Cheese & Charcuterie is a tiny but brilliantly stocked pantry of everything that goes great with wine. You’ll find all the great Cornish cheeses in there as well as plenty of European treats.

3. S. Jelbert (known locally as Jelbert’s) is one of the county’s oldest ice-cream makers. Queues are long on summer days, but oh boy, is it worth the wait. They only do one flavour (creamy vanilla), and that’s the way it’s always been. This scoop is legendary for good reason.

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Three Mile Beach is a collection of 15 luxury self-catering 2, 3, and 4 bedroom beach houses in the wilds of St Ives Bay, Cornwall.

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