Affectionately dubbed ‘Dan the Fish Man’, Clovelly-based fishmonger Dan Garnett takes his barrow to farmers’ markets all over North Devon delivering delicious, locally caught fish and seafood, plus cooking inspiration, to customers
Words and Photographs RAYMOND GOLDSMITH
I have a passion for sailing and hiking along this ancient, rugged coast, marvelling at nature’s design and the poetry of the seasons. I first moved here in 1979 and took up fishing from a rowing boat for the legendary Clovelly herring, lobster and crab, but soon bought my own fishing boat.
The coast has always felt like an old friend, so when I first sailed into Clovelly harbour I sensed I had come home. The sea here, the Bristol Channel, yields a bountiful array of marine life, which can include porpoises, seals and dolphins.
One of my mottos is ‘feed the nation’ because I rejoice in distributing my fish to markets from my colourful fish barrow all over North Devon. I’ve won awards for fishmongery and enjoy selling to the public. I’m also a dad who loves to cook for my family, as well as working with schools to promote the benefits of eating good seafood.
I relish being on the water so in my spare time I’m often out sailing, and in the past have competed in ocean yacht races. I’m also a Clovelly lifeboat crew member. Sometimes I cook on TV and was recently featured on James Martin’s Saturday Morning on ITV. I run a Fishlover’s Lunch Club at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow on the last Sunday of November every year – it’s always a culinary treat.
The landscape and seascape are inspirational, but the sea is a strict mistress you must respect. This stretch of Devon coastline is known as the Iron Coast, because of the number of ships wrecked near here. Clovelly is the only safe harbour between Appledore further down the coast and Falmouth in South Cornwall, and ships will often wait in Clovelly for storms to pass. To me, this kind of local folklore creates the mystery and intrigue that are all part of the region’s charm. Although I wasn’t born here, my heart belongs to Devon.