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Introducing Mousehole

With a tight tangle of cottages and alleyways gathered behind the granite breakwater, Mousehole (pronounced 'mowzle') looks like something from a children's storybook (a fact not unnoticed by the author Antonia Barber, who set her much-loved fairy-tale The Mousehole Cat here). In centuries past this was Cornwall's busiest pilchard port, but the fish dried up at the turn of the century, and the village now survives mostly on tourist traffic.

Packed in summer and deserted in winter, it's ripe for a wander, with a maze of slips, net-lofts and courtyards. It's also well-known for its Christmas lights, and as the home of 'stargazey pie', a pilchard pie in which the fish-heads are left poking through the pie's crust. It's traditionally eaten on Tom Bawcock's Eve (23 December), named after a local lad who reputedly rescued the town from a famine by braving stormy seas to land a bumper haul of pilchards.

The Old Coastguard Hotel is the pick of the places to stay, a swanky seaside hotel with to-die-for sea views on the edge of Mousehole.

Bus 6 makes the 20-minute journey (£3) to Penzance half-hourly.