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FOWEY

Down by the waterside...

The River Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty nestled on Cornwall’s south coast, approximately halfway between Falmouth and Plymouth. The main nautical town of the same name is a haven for both sailors and land-lovers; picturesque streets rise up from the river, rich in cultural history and full of independent shops and eateries. Picture elegant rows of Georgian buildings in quaint pastel colours, interspersed with classic Cornish pubs dating back to medieval times.

The river is also home to the villages of Lerryn, St Winnow, Polruan and Golant, as well as the ancient Stannary town of Lostwithiel at the head of the creek. Holidays are like taking a step back in time, whether you choose to visit castle ruins, literary landscapes, or just relax and revel in the peaceful beauty of the woods and waterside.

The Fowey Estuary guide

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A haven for sailors

The community in the Fowey River is centred around the water as a way of life, and whatever time of year you visit, you’ll find people ‘messing about in boats’. Whether you prefer a pootle on a pleasure boat or a technical sailing race, we bet you won’t be able to resist the call of the seas. The estuary location creates calmer waters perfectly suited to beginners and cruising craft, but the close proximity to Falmouth in the West and Plymouth in the East means that many boats stop by here on their tours along the South Coast. Schooners, traditional working boats and luggers are a common sight in up and down the river, transporting you back to times gone by.

Every August sailors flood into town for the Fowey Royal Regatta Week: yacht racing, dinghy sailing and gig rowing, as well as crab-catching competitions and plenty of spectator activities, including the stunning firework displays.

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Walking

Whether it’s a guided walk of the town you’re after, an escape across clifftop paths, or wandering through quiet woodlands, Fowey has plenty to explore on foot. A popular recommendation is the ‘Hall Walk’ which loops a circular route around both sides of the river, across to Polruan and up the creek to Pont Pill. The National Trust recommended route includes two ferries, which is a wonderful excuse to take a seat and enjoy the scenery for a few minutes!

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Literary connections

Inspiring the iconic ‘Manderley’ estate in Rebecca, the Fowey estuary was a favourite haunt of perhaps Cornwall’s most famous novelist, Daphne du Maurier. She lived at Readymoney Cottage during the war before bringing up her own children on the neglected and tumbledown Menabilly Estate (the supposed ‘real Manderley’).

The Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature takes place every year in du Maurier’s honour, also celebrating the work of local author Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (‘Q’), and Kenneth Graeme’s ‘Wind in the Willows’. Graeme used to visit Fowey and write home to his son – affectionately known as ‘Mouse’ – telling tales of the riverbank and the ‘Wild Wood’ which could just be those found in Lerryn itself. We’ll leave you to make your own judgements on that one, but why not bring your own paper and pen in case you feel creatively inspired? Or just relax and read the classic works in the places they were dreamt up…

Beaches
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Lantic Bay

This gorgeous National Trust beach between Between Fowey and Polperro is dog-friendly all year with sandy shores and turquoise waters on a bright sunny day. It’s a coastal walk and then an exciting scramble down the cliff from the Lantic Bay Car Park (NT), and being a step or two off the beaten track, most people like to stay awhile and make a day of it with a well-prepared picnic. We think there’s something special about being on a beach where so many visitors arrive by sea, and Lantic Bay is no exception.

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Polruan ‘Quay Beach’ and ‘Back Beach’

Probably the closest beaches to Lerryn, these sandy spots either side of the port are also close to local amenities. A couple of pubs, shops and toilets are just a stone’s throw from the beach in Polruan village. (Though in terms of accessibility, there is a steep walk from the nearest car park at St. Saviours unless you come by ferry from Fowey.) The beaches here are safe for swimming, but do check your tides before visiting as the sand disappears almost completely at high water! The beach is a favourite for families but is not dog-friendly due to its small size.

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Polkerris

Polkerris is the beach with a buzz! Privately owned, it hosts events and activities throughout the year; beach yoga, stand-up-paddleboarding, beach cleans and sailing events, to name just a few. Creative workshops are available for both adults and children, with a beach-side shop and gallery as well as the all-important café. Check out their webcam to see what’s happening on the beach right this moment…

Polkerris is dog-friendly only from October-Easter.

Food & Drink
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Sam’s in Fowey

“Roguish piracy has always been the unspoken code of conduct” at Sam’s in Fowey, where the exposed brick walls and funky pink and green decor invite you into this welcoming and contemporary space in the middle of town. They know their fish and their local Cornish produce, working these into the carefully curated menu of seafood, salads, steaks and burgers. The newly added bar and lounge upstairs creates a perfect place to relax – traditional cocktails are joined by non-boozy creations such as the ‘Teeny Colada’ for the little people in your party…

And if you’re on the beach at Polkerris, ‘Sam’s On the Beach’ have the additional benefit of a wood-fired pizza oven overlooking St Austell Bay…

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The Ship Inn

In Lerryn itself is The Ship Inn, with generous portions of locally-sourced food and a dog-friendly bar area ready for woodland walkers. The sixteenth-century building is full of charm and serves up a traditional roast of pork, beef, lamb or chicken every Sunday. Step back in time, and sit down to dinner by candlelight in the main restaurant or eat outside if the weather is fine…

Things to do
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Motor or kayak up the river:

Just across the river from Lerryn Creek is Golant, where Encounter Cornwall run guided canoe trips and kayak hire for all ages and abilities. Paddling through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) you’re likely to be joined on your paddle by kingfishers, egrets, herons and perhaps a seal or a dolphin if they’re feeling friendly! If the tide is high, you’ll head upriver, and if it’s low you’ll bob south towards the sea – meaning that paddling is available throughout the day, all year round.

If some (or all) of your party fancy something a little more stable than a SUP or kayak, you can hire a motorboat from Fowey Riverhire. A secure and stable way to explore the river – even dogs are welcome aboard!

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Restormel Castle

This stunning circular ruin is an unusually well preserved ‘shell keep’ from the 13th century; boasting fabulous views across the valley as well as peaking your historical intrigue. Managed by English Heritage, the castle is a favourite for picnics and has a 45-minute walking trail which links to the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery through the picturesque Cornish countryside. Back inside the structure of the ruins you can climb a stone staircase and walk around the inner ward of the old castle walls. It is easy to imagine the royal grandeur of times gone by. The English Civil War saw the remains of the castle occupied by a Parliamentary garrison before being stormed in 1644 by none other than Sir Richard Grenville, a former Fowey MP…

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Polkerris

The privately-owned beach at Polkerris hosts events and activities all year round, from children’s pottery and mosaic making to adult printmaking classes, to stand-up paddleboarding and beach yoga. The shop, gallery and café are well worth a visit and there are kayaks, SUPs, sailing boats and windsurfing kit available to hire as long as the weather allows. Dogs are welcome from October to Easter and you can easily spend a day here walking, paddling, eating and creating to your heart’s content.

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