Looe and Polperro

Where the East and West Looe Rivers meet
Where the East and West Looe Rivers meet

Looe and Polperro

Being only around 20 miles from Plymouth, Looe is a popular day trip for Plymothians, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s got a typically Cornish holiday town feel about it, and you don’t have to just come from Plymouth to appreciate it.

Looe can be reached by the scenic Looe Valley Line, but you’ll need to find an alternative mode of transport to travel the extra 5 miles to the quaint fishing village of Polperro.

‘Logh’ is the Cornish word for Looe, which means ‘deep water inlet’ and this will give you a clue as to what to expect.

This deep-water inlet is formed by the East and West Looe Rivers that run through some lovely scenery before meeting up near the railway station.

The small estuary splits the town into East and West Looe, which between them had a population of around 5,000 at the last count.

Originally East Looe and West Looe were separate towns, and although a bridge was built across the river in 1436, they remained separate boroughs with their own mayor, corporation and 2 Members of Parliament each. It wasn’t until 1898 that they were municipally joined together under Looe District Council.

Today both sides of the river are just referred to as Looe, but there is still a slight difference between the two. There’s a saying that goes “East Looe is the sunny side and West Looe is the money side”.

I’m not sure about the second part of the saying but East Looe is definitely the sunny side, which is why it tends to be busier with more in the way of shops, pubs and restaurants. It also has a beach, and I think it’s fair to say that East Looe is definitely the most popular side of the river where tourists are concerned.

Apart from tourism, fishing is still an important source of income to Looe although, like other ports, not as important as it once was. The same could be said of Polperro but on a smaller scale, and is everyone’s idea of what a Cornish fishing village should be like: Narrow streets, picturesque harbour, tales of smuggling and more.

This idyllic setting brings in plenty of visitors, but if you can avoid the busiest times, you’ll be rewarded with a quintessential Cornish experience. I love Polperro, always have, always will – and I reckon you will too.


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