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Looe

About Looe  |  Weather  |  Tide Times  |  Gallery  |  Video


 

East Looe and West Looe originated as separate towns. They were what is called "planted boroughs" and first mention of them is in 1201. The bridge between East and West Looe. The towns were joined by an estuary bridge, the earliest in Cornwall, by 1411. The Illustrated Journeys of Celia Fiennes 1685 - c.1712, records that she recorded the bridge as having 14 arches in 1698. The bridge was replaced in 1853 by a new one about a hundred yards further upstream. Looe is located on the south coast of Cornwall, some 20 miles west of Plymouth (Devon) and 240 miles from London. Liskeard is some 10 miles away, Polperro 6 miles and Fowey 12.

 

Looe harbour quay has traditionally been the focus of attention in Looe when the fishing boats come back to harbour to unload their catches. Even though the fishing fleet is smaller these days it still makes a busy and colourful scene and the ice room facilities have just been extended. The harbour is tidal so you can experience both high tide and low tide - the result is a constantly changing visual scene. A long harbour arm (the "banjo" pier) protects the east side of the mouth of the Looe river from winter storms and gives safe passage into the harbour for returning craft - the west side is naturally protected by the rocky river bank and coast line. Across the river can be seen the sandy East Looe beach - very popular with families with children.

 

The banjo pier is a popular point to aim for on a walk around Looe harbour, especially to see the returning fishing trawlers at high tide. But in bad weather it can be the last place to be and dramatic and tragic tales can be told about the banjo pier.


The Guildhall is believed to have been built about 1500 and one house is dated 1555 and another 1632. The Golden Guinea restaurant is one of many ancient houses still in use today and whose interiors, in some cases, give more clues to their age than do the later exteriors which have disguised them. The Old Guildhall in East Looe passed its role as the "Town Hall" to the new Victorian Guildhall in Fore Street and today the Old Guildhall houses the Museum.


East Looe was built on a sand spit alongside the present river and it was actually a planned town - planned to a grid of streets. The houses on the four parallel streets were timber fronted but had stone walls for fire prevention. Later frontages were built on some of these old houses so it is not immediately apparent now what an old town East Looe actually is. West Looe, facing its larger neighbour East Looe across the river, has its own individuality and character.

Up until 1832 the twin towns had two Parliamentary seats - but lost them with parliamentary reform.

 

Looe Island.


Looe Island is only just off the coast of Looe and once a year, when there is an exceptionally low tide it is just possible to walk to it. At other times boats take visitors. In winter storms it can be cut off for days or even weeks. The island's proper name is St.George's Island and it housed a monastic community in mediaeval days. In 1965 two sisters bought it and lived there alone, sadly one died recently but the surviving sister lives on despite the undoubted hardships. For more information about the island please see below.


Advice for visitors.

Looe, not surprisingly, is busiest in the middle of the summer, during school holidays. During this period the main streets, the beach, the shops and restaurants and the car parks are very busy. The crowds give a buzz to the place but if you don't like crowds avoid this high season period.
Looe has parking restrictions from end of May until end of September, but in this "shoulder" season, Looe is probably at its best - the weather can be very nice indeed and there are enough people around to be lively but not so many as to be uncomfortable.

You can, of course, come in the "low" season, Looe is quiet, almost sleepy and you can have a relaxed wander around and quiet drinks in the pubs and unhurried meals in the restaurants and cafes. Looe has been said to be one of the top four spots in Britain to celebrate New Year's Eve.

Crossing the river / harbour.

 

The river bridge at the north end of Looe is where cars and pedestrians cross from East Looe to West Looe. Depending on the state of the tide, pedestrians can cross the river further towards the sea by a small passenger ferry which, although a very short journey, adds interest. The ferry departs from near the small church in West Looe and crosses to near the Fish Quay in East Looe.


River and Sea trips.
 

In good weather there is nothing so enjoyable as a trip out into Looe Bay, or to Looe Island, which for the past 35 years has been owned by two elderly ladies, sisters. Sadly one of the two ladies has now died, but her sister still welcomes day visitors. A landing fee is payable by each visitor. A good evening trip is to go up the West Looe river to the Watergate - no great distance from Looe town, but into a quiet and magical world of herons and other wildlife. Boards advertising the sea and river trips are displayed on the harbour side in both East and West Looe. All sea trips, of course, depend on both weather and tides.

Looe Valley railway.


Although not so many people come to Looe by railway as could be the case, the scenic line is a good holiday trip. Try and go at high tide when the East Looe river is full to the brim. The railway runs up the edge of the river, seemingly almost in the water, through a charming valley to Liskeard, where you can change for Plymouth or London in one direction or Bodmin/Penzance in the other.


Walks.


There are lots of short walks which can be taken immediately in and around Looe. A walk through the woods from the main Millpool car park just over the bridge in East Looe is exceptionally nice in good weather - and there are a number of walks of different lengths, well sign-posted and with explanatory details. Go into the main car park and drive as far across it as you can until you see a small parking area near the explanatory boards/map close to where the path goes into the woods.


On a good day, winter, spring, summer or autumn, if you have enough puff, there is no better walk than to take the coastal path through West Looe and Hannafore and then around the coast to Talland Bay and on to Polperro (about 5 miles one way). The path gives magnificent sea and coastal views as it passes through unspoilt scenery, much of which is owned by the National Trust. Talland Bay gives the opportunity for refuelling at the Beach Cafe (Easter and May to October) and, in suitable weather, to take a swim or sunbathe. The return trip will make a very pleasant day out, with time to see Polperro and take lunch there. Alternatively, it is possible to walk just one way and get a bus back.


Parking in Looe.
 

Once in Looe the car will be useful for all the visits you will want to make to places of interest in the area. However Looe is not the easiest place to park - except in the off-season don't expect to find street parking.
For the town centre (East Looe) there are two main parking areas and some smaller ones:

1. The Quayside in East Looe (entrance just by the bridge over the river), which is frequently full. If the "full" notice is out near the entrance (by the river bridge) save yourself time and frustration in looking for an empty space by believing it at the outset and go to either -


2. The Millpool car park, which is across the bridge (west or Polperro side of bridge), slightly up the hill and turn right. A very large car park about 500m - 750m / 5 to 10 mins walk from the town centre, or


3. One of the smaller car parks - (a) south of petrol station on A387 (east side of river), 100m north of river bridge or (b) on quayside in West Looe (small number of spaces).
All the car parks in Looe are pay car parks (Pay & Display) 24 hours a day.

   

Video of Looe

 

Video courtesy of Paul Dinning for Wildlife in Cornwall

 

   

Pictures of Looe

 

 

 

     

       

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