My sister in Falmouth is putting up with me for a few days, and in return I’m chauffeuring her to a few pubs on Cornwall’s west coast. On our list was the stretch of coastal path above Land’s End, which itself isn’t somewhere I need to return to anytime soon.
The hour-long journey takes you past St Michael’s Mount, which we made before the tide came in. We disagreed whether it was better than the walk to the Hilbre Islands though. The light was stunning at 10am.
Cornwall at this time of year is fairly quiet, with a number of pubs choosing to close lunchtimes or entirely, at least until school holidays bring the Christmas hordes.
Only St Michaels’s Mount, and later Mousehole seemed busy. We had the coast path near Pendeen to ourselves for a couple of hours.
Two hours would be enough to walk between the three Beer Guide entries between Pendeen and St Just, though these mining villages are some way from the coast itself. They’re also not particularly picture-postcard, but as Sis reminds me the best pubs are rarely in the best locations.
The Trewellard Arms and the Star in St Just are both gems; the Star is worth my 7 hour journey from the east to visit the Beer Guide’s most south-westerly mainland pub.
It’s hard to capture the spirit of the Trewellard, which was all about the welcome and the banter from the owners, and a couple of local beers Sis kindly rated as 3. She understands NBSS better than I do. The landlord’s mood had been lifted by the FA Cup draw for his beloved Exeter City (a 3 hour journey for every home game), and his local pub knowledge was a joy.
Stepping into the Star was like entering the Coachmakers in Hanley or the Dead Poets. I don’t only like multi-roomed pubs with bench seating and traditional values, but this was pretty much as good as it gets. It wasn’t heaving, and any tourists would probably have headed for one of three other market square pubs for lunch, but there was life here (just not life, dog apart, that liked being photographed !).
There’s a lot of St Austell beer about, and not as many free houses as you might expect or hope, but there’s a lot to be said for giving locals beers they know to ensure high turnover and quality. The Proper Job was even better than yesterday (NBSS 3.5), and the banter was just as good.
My sister has similar tastes in pubs (basic) and beer (dark and strong) to me, and we were unanimous on the Star. The fact she’d feel happy to go in on her own for a pint and a chat was telling. She’s very chatty, and within ten minutes we were discussing friends of friends, the poshness of Falmouth, and the quality of the beer.
Even Mousehole looked a bit drab by comparison on the way back.
West Cornwall has some really unpretentious pubs, and the lack of novelty Christmas beers has also been a bonus.