Things To Do And The History of Looe in Cornwall
Looe is located in Cornwall, which is renowned for its amazing coasts, beautiful scenery, friendly people and some of the best weather in the British Isles. Due to its southerly location, the weather in the area is usually a few degrees warmer than further up north. Looe is only a small town, with a population of just over 5,000, and is a traditional Cornish fishing village. Although it is only 20 miles from the major city of Plymouth, there is so much difference between them it may as well be 1,000 miles. One is a sleepy coastal town, while the other is a bustling metropolitan area. The town’s harbour gives a feeling of centuries of tradition, and makes it one of the most picturesque locations in Cornwall.
Proof of the area that is now Looe being inhabited goes back around a three thousand years, with a number archeological remains having been discovered. The area was once held by William the Conqueror, as shown in the Domesday Book of 1085. With the river splitting East Looe and West Looe, both of these were treated as independent in the past, with Henry II granting East Looe a Royal Charter sometime around 1160. West Looe received free borough status not long after. Some of the older housing in the area of Looe, which can still get flooded to this day, is built with this in mind. The living quarters are upstairs, while ground level is used for the storing of fishing tackle and boats.
Religion has often played a role in the area, with the first chapel being built in 1144 by a monastic order on Looe Island, and another in West Looe, both of which are now just ruins. St. Mary’s church was first built in 1259, but after falling into disrepair, it was eventually rebuilt in 1805. Although the majority of the new church is just over 200 years old, the tower itself is the original. A number of other churches still remain in the area such as St. Nicholas, which dates back to 1330.
There have been a number of bridges over the River Looe. The first one was constructed of wood, but burnt down, and was eventually replaced by a stone one built in 1436. This was then replaced by a Victorian style bridge in 1853. Although the town has always been known for its fishing, in its early years, it was also known for shipping out granite, arsenic and tin. In fact tin was a major export from Cornwall for a few hundred years, with many mines in the area. One of the things Looe was most famous for in the past was its shipbuilding, and the town supplied around 20 ships to help with the 1347 siege of Calais.
These days the local area caters for young and old, with many things to see and do. Below you will find some of the best of them.
* The Eden Project – This is located near St. Austell, and is one of the most well-known places of interest in Cornwall. The massive greenhouse covers about 30 football pitches, and contains biospheres of plants from all around the world. Make sure you have at least half a day for this attraction, and that is if you are going to rush through it.
* Carnglaze Slate Caverns – A fantastic place, and you will be amazed at some of the caverns carved out by hand. The best thing about this place is that you can visit on a rainy day and stay dry. Make sure you pick up a trinket from the gift shop.
* Monkey Sanctuary – This is well within walking distance from Looe. The species are the Amazonian Woolly Monkey, and they have been living in the area for around 40 years. They are located in the grounds of a Victorian house and gardens.
* Crealy Adventure Park – This is a major family entertainment park. It is full of all kinds of things for the kids, and plenty to do for the adults as well including fun rides, slides and a large play area.
* The Lost Gardens of Heligan – Located in Pentewan St Austell. The estate was built over 400 years ago and covers well over 50 acres of gardens. It fell into neglect near the end of the 19th century, and was then hit by a major storm in 1990 which pretty much finished it off. However, in recent years it has become one of the country’s biggest restoration projects, and is well worth a visit. It has many walled gardens that include jungle, Italian and grotto landscapes.
* Lanhydrock House and Gardens – A must visit Victorian property. Fully furnished, and well looked after, this is a gem for lovers of English heritage.
* Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary – This is a great place to take the children as they can come into contact with guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, ducks, goats, chickens, and numerous other animals. Try and visit on a sunny day to make the most of the outstanding views in the area.
* Cotehele House – This is a traditional house from Tudor times. It is fully furnished, and contains many collections of armour and textiles. The house is located amongst many gardens, orchards and ponds, which can take a few hours to view. An old sailing barge called the ‘Shamrock’ has been restored, and is located at Cotehele Quay.
* Millendreath Beach – This is one of the best beaches in the area, and is covered in stretches of white sand. The backdrop is full of beautiful flowers during the spring and summer months.
Other things to do in the area include:
* Hire out a fishing boat and go shark fishing from Looe Harbour.
* Visit the Cornish Orchards and sample some homemade cider and apple juice.
* Eat at the Bucklawren Granary Restaurant.
* Have a beer at The Olde Plough.
* Eat a hearty meal at Morrells Bistro.
There is more to see and do in Looe and the surrounding areas on top of everything mentioned here, but whatever you decide to do, you will be guaranteed a great time.