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A fishing town on the Cornish coast, split in two halves

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Looe Island
Monkey Sanctuary
This fishing town straddles both sides of the River Looe, after which it is named. Back in Medieval times, these two halves were considered to be separate settlements. Even today, their atmospheres are noticeably different.

The bridge connecting East and West Looe
Photo bobchin1941
East Looe is the busier of the two. This is the location of the harbour, which has always been an essential part of the town's identity. The fishing fleet is smaller than it used to be, but it's still the second largest in Cornwall after Newlyn. You'll have to set your alarm early if you want to watch the fish auctions. They kick off every day at 6:30am sharp. The regular customers include most of the local restaurants, so when you eat out, be sure to order the seafood.

Looe Harbour
Photo lostajy

The Fishermans Arms in East Looe
Photo Karen Roe
There are plenty of organised trips out into the water. You can gaze back at the Cornish coastline, or stare down into the murky depths from aboard the glass-bottomed boats. You'll need strong nerves for that though, as Looe has a notoriously large population of sharks! If you've got the guts, you can go on the offensive. This is one of the few places in the country where you can take part in shark fishing!

The entrance to Looe Harbour
Photo lostajy

Boat trips from Looe
Photo Martin Pettitt
East Looe's harbour is protected by the Banjo Pier. Its circular tip offers great views of both the town and the sea. Be careful during storms though, as the rain and wind have been known to shove people over the edge, into the churning waters.

Banjo Pier
Photo Martin Pettitt
During better weather, a trip to the beach is pretty much obligatory. There's plenty of sand, even during high tide. The sea remains shallow for quite a distance, so you can safely go paddling or swimming.

Looe Beach
Photo lostajy
Leading away from the shore are the town's narrow alleys and back streets. The quaint shops sell all sorts of bric-a-brac, from crafts to Cornish pasties. One of the oldest buildings is the 16th century Guildhall. It is now a local history museum.

Looe's Streets
Photo Martin Pettitt
Compared to its eastern neighbour, West Looe is much quieter. A Victorian, seven-arched bridge connects the two sides. Once you've made it across, you'll find a similarly maze-like network of tiny streets, dotted with more shops, restaurants and hotels.
The town's western half is the best place to catch sight of Looe Island, a few hundred metres offshore. It's not very big, but it has a rugged beauty. Most of the time, the only access is via ferry. However, once or twice a year, the tide drops so low that you can walk there.

Looe island from the Coast Path
Photo lostajy
Within easy walking distance to the east, is the popular Monkey Sanctuary. It was started in 1964 as a haven for rescued primates. Since then hundreds of animals have been saved and given a home here. Inside, the monkeys are given more freedom than the humans! They live inside a vast network of linked enclosures, including overhead tunnels. Each one is filled with all sorts of toys and climbing equipment, so the creatures spend most of their time larking about. In fact, their life of fun and games is enough to make anybody jealous.

Looe Monkey Sanctuary
Photo Smoobs
Visitor Information
Looe Tourist Information Centre, The Guildhall, Fore Street, East Looe, PL13 1AA. Tel: 01503 262072
Monkey Sanctuary is open Easter to September from Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 4.30pm (may change for 2011). Entry costs around £8 for adults, £4 for children. Murrayton House, St Martins, Looe, PL13 1NZ. Tel: 01503 262 532

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