With 74 working boats in the harbour, Mevagissey (Meva to the locals) is still the place for a traditional Cornish fishing village vibe. Its authenticity captured the BBC’s imagination in its series, This Fishing Life, a close look at what life is really like in the ‘wild west’ of Britain.
Meva is known for its fishing, with 30 different species caught from its shores, delivered straight to your plate, from turbot to Dover sole. Fishing is life here, so when in Cornwall always try fresh locally-caught fish for a true taste of the coast.
As the amazing Atlantic waves roll in, Meva is sheltered by its working harbour, but if an easterly wind blows, then wave watchers are in for a delight. The Beast from the East was one of the very rare times that Meva saw snow, as easterly winds smashed waves against the coast, reminding us all of the strength and energy of the sea. Sunsets happen far more often, providing fine skies over dappled seas.
Fishing is in people’s blood here, so the men of Meva follow their fathers in the seagoing tradition. Even those who go away for a while often return, degree in hand, to fishing. The men here are proud of their boats, keeping them smart and well-maintained to earn a livelihood but also to keep them safe at sea. Fishing is a dangerous job, so be in thrall of those who go out in all weathers for their catch.
Talk to local fishermen and you will find no other work will do. On a good day, with dolphins swimming alongside the boats, where better a place to be? Gulls loudly follow the boats, ever hopeful for a free meal. For visitors, the noise and sight is part of the true feel of Cornwall. Spend time at the harbour watching the boats come in.
Meva men find it hard to hang up their nets, but not all who go out on the boats are full-time fishermen. The programme also featured Kris, landlord and chef of the King’s Arms. He was out to catch lobsters to provide them fresh for visitors to his traditional pub. That’s dedication.
In the past, fish were abundant, and Meva thrived on the industry, where a net full of fish would raise a satisfied smile. Now, the Meva fishermen often have to travel further afield for their catch. In summer, it remains a community tradition to celebrate the arrival of the pilchards. Mevagissey Feast Week has been celebrated since 1754, a wonderful community event open to visitors, this year taking place from 28th June-4th July. Visit then, or try visiting in low or mid-season for a real feel of Mevagissey.
We all need to support each other at this time, being kind and careful, adhering to social distancing and staying at home. Local businesses in Cornwall have been super-awesome in their support of their local communities, and Facebook is awash with community groups and small, independent businesses all keen to help others who are feeling isolated. It is heartwarming.