Another Trip to Looe - the town that defies categorisation

Sunday marked the Michael's second trip of 2007 to the quaint Cornish town of Looe (see my earlier visit). Earlier this year - around Easter time - I sampled the delights that this unfathomable seaside town has to offer. I have to admit that I still don't 'get' Looe; it's like no other Cornish place that I've been to. It undoubtedly has elements that smack of the archetypal Cornish village: narrow winding streets, ice cream palours, tea-rooms, cheap gift shops, bakeries and pubs all by the bucket-load. It's even topped off by a respectably-sized sandy beach at the end. But sitting uncomfortably amongst these stereotypical ingredients are the following misfits:a couple of strangely expensive gift shops, a well-stocked arcade, a joke shop, a variety unremarkable shoe/clothing shops and a chandlery - yes, a freaking chandlery!

Moreover, it has fishing boats aplenty but seems devoid of fisherman, and strange shelters along the beachfront, perpetually inhabited, it seems, by the OAP squad, huddled up and stinking of cabbage as only old folk can, grumbling about the heat in the summer and the cold in winter.

My overriding point here is that Looe has many facets, none of which sit well with each other. It's quite heavily commercialised but in strange, uncomfortable and uneasy ways. The trashy arcade overlooking a river filled with fishing boats is a case in point. It's rumoured that the chandlery is diversifying into new sectors and will soon carry lines of lingerie and sex toys. Okay, I'm just kidding with that one but I think my point is made. Something's seriously wrong in Looe and I'm sure it's not just me who's noticed it. The town is stubbornly hanging on to the more traditional elements of a Cornish coastal village with old meeting new in a disturbing mix. My advice is simple: go the whole hog, one way or another. Commercialise completely, turn the gift shops in the brothels and finally kill off the old conventional theme in Looe or get rid of those trashy 'towny' elements once and for all.

For what it's worth, this trip was a blast. Quite literally, in fact - we were nearly blown off our feet on several occasions, lashed, whipped and generally beaten by torrential rainshowers and gale force winds. At times, it was all we could do to stay on the quayside but still couldn't resist a storm-lashed walk on the beach, too. Probably not the best time for a visit but you know how these spur-of-the-moment things go down.


  1. Looe is still an active fishing village. It has boats that go to see catch crab, lobster etc and sell at the fish market.

    What is the problem, having just returned from Looe it would seem to me that the holiday village sits alongside the traditional Cornish fishing village quite nicely.. Even providing some free bate for the multitude of 'crabbers' on the quayside.

  2. I appreciate the comment, anonymous. I think the overall point I was making - perhaps a little harshly - was that Looe has not been commercialised gracefully, certainly not when compared to other such Cornish fishing villages.

    For the record, I've lived in (another) fishing village in Cornwall for most of my life and I didn't make the comments that I did about Looe on a whim. It has always struck me as a strange mix of new versus old, traditional versus modern, commercialised versus unspoilt. Sure there are fishing boats, yes there are crabbers and yes they still have a fish market. But I stand completely by what I say in that the two sides of Looe don't sit well with one another. Perhaps you see it differently or just haven't been to many other such Cornish villages but I know I'm not alone in finding Looe a bit of an enigma. Anyway, I appreciate your comments, even if I don't agree with them.

    p.s. If I ever want some free 'bate' I'll be sure to go to Looe. And at least someone is sticking up for Looe - they must get a lot of flack.

  3. I have been there -Looe- and I think it's a beautiful place, I love it and it brings me a lot of memories
    sorry my english is a little bit short

    I love the photo you have chosen, I were right there years ago and I'd like to come back some day :)

    Sevillian woman


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