Mousehole is a quant little fishing village just 3 miles to the south west of Penzance – and is a lovely harbour to visit for a day out. The village (pronounced “Mowzel'”) is the setting for this captivating story inspired by an old legend – “The Mousehole Cat”.
A fierce winter storm sets in just before Christmas, and “the cats and their people grow very hungry” because the Great Storm-Cat won’t let any fishing boats out of the harbour. Mowzer, a wise old cat, goes along to protect her “pet” Tom, a fisherman–when he decides to brave the elements to get food for the villagers. The clever Mowzer sings to the storm which allows Tom to cast his nets and catch fish. They return home safely to the village who come out to meet them with gleaming lanterns.
The village itself is set on the edge of Mount’s Bay, and commands views across to St Michael’s Mount. You will find narrow cobbled lanes with traditional granite and slate cottages and you can easily while a way a couple of hours just taking in harbour life.
The village itself is a couple of streets back from the harbour where you will find plenty of galleries and craft shops selling the work of local artists – perfect for picking up an unusual gift or souvenir. You will also find a good selection of pubs, restaurants and cafes where you buy lunch or grab a fish and chips takeaway.
Mousehole is not the best place to visit if you are looking for a day on the beach. However, Sennen or Marazion are only a short drive away.
If you are visiting Mousehole in the winter you can enjoy the Christmas lights in the harbour. Each December for over 40 years the village becomes an illuminated spectacle with lights not only on the cottages and quayside, but in the harbour, on the hillside and a cross on top of St Clement’s Isle in the bay.
Preparations begin as early as September with the village setting up and testing every one of the nearly 10,000 bulbs.
The switching on of the Christmas lights is an event in its own right with a brass band and choir (usually Mousehole Male Voice Choir) providing a soundtrack to the proceedings. The ceremony takes place in mid December and is extremely popular – don’t expect to be able to park anywhere near Mousehole, the best plan is probably to get the park-and-ride bus from Penzance.
The lights remain popular throughout their duration (until just after New Year) and can be viewed between around 5pm and 11pm.
Whilst the lights are a celebration of the season there is also a twinge of sadness for the village. On the 19th December the lights are turned off for an hour between 8 and 9pm in memory of the crew of the Solomon Browne, the Penlee lifeboat that was lost with all hands on that day in 1981 whilst attempting to rescue the crew of the Union Star off Lamorna. Nearly all the crew of the lifeboat were from Mousehole including the pub landlord, Charles Greenhaugh, to whom there is a plaque on the wall of the Ship Inn.