The reason we’re discussing Mousehole (did you pronounce it correctly? It’s hard, I know), is that in September Bob and I will be walking the Cornish Coastal Path through this little hamlet on our way from Penzance to… hmmm…this is still to be decided. We’d planned to visit Mousehole during our 2012 trip to Cornwall but just plumb ran out of time. Easy to happen in England.
Here’s what I know about Mousehole:
1. Dylan Thomas called it “the loveliest village in England.” Dylan, in case you forget, is considered Wales' greatest poet. He wrote deep stuff that I am usually too tired to understand because reading deep poetry makes my head hurt.
But still. If a famous poet calls it “the loveliest village in England,” I’m apt to mosey on over and give the place a looksee.
"Mousehole Harbour"; Kathleen Merrick, mid-late 20th century; oil on board
Photo from SouthwestCoastPath.com which is THE site to turn to for path information.
2. Mousehole was developed around the fishing trade. The "loveliest village in England” appeared in the record books as a major fishing port in 1266, which was an amazingly long time ago.
3. Supposedly, the last fluent native speaker of the Cornish language lived in Mousehole. Cornish (Kernewek) is a Brythonic Celtic language, directly descended from the ancient British language spoken before English came to dominate. Some accounts say Dolly Pentreath was the last person who spoke only Cornish, while others say she learned English at the age of twenty. Whatever. It’s still cool. According to the travel guides, as you walk towards the harbor from the car park you will pass the house where she lived. It’s marked by a plaque. I mention this now because on the blog of our trip I will include a photo of said plaque, at which time you can say, “Oh, I remember Chris mentioning that house and that lady. Wow. She was right. There is a plaque.”
Teach yourself some Cornish!
Hello Dydh da
Good Morning Myttin da
Please Mar Plek
Thank You Merasta
Good health! Yeghes da!
Yes, I do Gwrav
Why Not? Prog na?
Good Night Nos dha
Goodbye Dyw genes
See you! Dha weles!
Good Night Nos dha
How are you? Fatla genes?
OK, and you? Da lowr, ha ty?
4. Mousehole is a maze of narrow, winding streets filled with small shops, galleries and restaurants. The cottages were built from finely grained granite, and if the Spaniards hadn’t sacked the place in 1595, they would be some old cottages indeed. Alas. The Spaniards did attack, burning the entire village down to wispy ashes—missing only one lowly house, which still stands today. Which we may look for. Which I may take a picture of. Which I may post on the travel blog.
Old Mousehole postcard from years gone by.