Since the 19th century
Porthleven has grown in population to the size of a small town, but it
does have the amenities of a town and, is considered a satellite of
Helston which is under three miles away. However, in a way, this is a
saving grace because it has managed to retain an old world charm and
character of its own, the centre of which is the wonderful harbour and
Fishing is still carried on, mostly for lobster, crab, and crayfish and
there are also pleasure craft moored in the inner harbour.
Today though, it has become an 'abandoned port' and is no longer used in
Harbour has had a difficult history since its first
inception in 1811 and has never really lived up to expectations. The
biggest problem is that Porthleven, facing to the south west, is subject
to very severe winter gales and not only is it a perilous undertaking for
vessels entering or leaving in stormy seas, but the breakwater and quays
have been subject to extreme damage. The first harbour was completely
destroyed by a storm in 1824, it was rebuilt and the breakwater and closed
dock area added in the 1850's. It was after this that there was an upturn
in Porthleven's fortunes and by the 1880's there was a fleet of Pilchard
boats working from here and together with boat-building, sail-making, and
the docking of imports and exports, the harbour became a hive of activity,
and in the days of trade in tin and coal with sailing vessels, it was an
ideally situated port of call.
Starting at the harbour, the beach here stretches all the way to the far
side of Looe Bar and if the tide is well out, it is possible to walk the
whole distance on the sand. You can see where a large area of the sea wall
has been rebuilt after the damage of the storms in 1989.
It must be said, however, that the sea along here is also subject to
strong rip currents and swimming is discouraged.
There are two marvellous walks from Porthleven harbour. One is to go left
at the Institute clock tower and out to Looe Bar, then along the side of
Looe Pool; even as far as Helston if you have the time.
Looe Bar is a mass of sand and shingle that separates the freshwater lake
from the sea and if you care to look, you may find some gem stones here.
The second walk starts on the other side of the harbour and goes out along
the cliffs to the Megiliggar Rocks. Take care to stay on the coastal path
because there has been considerable erosion in recent years due to storms
and it is very dangerous to stray too close to the edge. The area around
Tremearne Par is one of geological and scientific interest and nearer to
Porthleven is an extensive wave-cut platform of dark slate. When the tide
is out at the Megiliggar Rocks lots of interesting rock pools are exposed.