7 REASONS TO VISIT FOWEY
PUBLISHED: 14:38 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:02 30 August 2017
The port of Fowey, located on the South West peninsula of Cornwall, has an rich maritime history waiting to be discovered
Fowey fosters a sense of well-being, is a friendly and relaxed town with a great community spirit. IAN WILKINSON discovers many great reasons to live here
John Hodgetts has been coming to Fowey on holiday for the past 30 years.' I love the place,' he tells me. 'I come down from Wales four or five times a year and stay with some friends who own a bed and breakfast at the top of the hill. It's so beautiful and the people are all really friendly I would love to live here!'
Lynn Goold is manager of Fowey's Tourist Information Centre and, although not Cornish born, she has lived here since she was a baby. 'Not quite a local!' she says. 'But seriously, we are so lucky to live here. Really friendly people, beautiful countryside and nice walks its got it all. Even when I go to nice places on holiday I never mind coming back home to Fowey.'
Fowey is at the heart of one of south Cornwall's most beautiful areas, with the river itself, the countless creeks and tributaries and the tiny villages and hamlets that have grown up along its banks.
The ancient port of Fowey lies at the mouth of the river that bears its name, approximately halfway between St Austell and Polperro. In medieval times it was an important commercial centre and port on the trade route that ran overland to the Camel Estuary on Cornwall's north coast, linking Ireland to the continent.
Today it is still an important port, trading mainly in china clay, and visitors are often surprised at the size of the ships heading up river to the deep-water quays. Fowey has that indefinable quality that all ports seem to possess bustling, lively and cosmopolitan and very popular with tourists. Here are seven good reasons to visit:
1 Beautiful homes
There is an amazing diversity of property in Fowey and the surrounding area, ranging from traditional fishermens cottages and substantial Victorian villas to modern estate-type properties and mansions in the millionaire class on the outskirts. The land rises quite steeply from the waterfront and so many of the properties a little way out of town have beautiful views of the river and the creeks on the eastern bank.
2 Great walks
Fowey has more than its fair share of good walks. Apart from the myriad of little footpaths that crisscross the surrounding countryside, two important long-distance routes converge on the town. The first is the Saints Way, which traces the ancient trade and pilgrims route from Padstow in the north. Along its length the path meanders through valleys, woodlands, pastures, moors and villages, and even if you find the thought of a 30-mile hike daunting, its well worth exploring the two-mile stretch from the town to the charming village of Golant. The other path of note is of course the South West Coast path. In either direction west to Gribbin Head or east towards Pencarrow Head you will find some of the most breathtaking clifftop scenery in the county. It can of course be taxing in parts, so breathtaking can have more than one meaning!
Fowey has that irresistible link with its past, manifested in its well-preserved buildings that span the centuries. The parish church of St Fimbarrus, the beautiful 14th-century church in Golant and the holy well of St Sampson, St Catherines Castle, built by Henry VIII and the Ship Inn at the bottom of Lostwithiel Street all represent different ages in our county's past.
4 Eating out
There are lots of excellent restaurants in the town and the surrounding villages. Here are just a few: Q Restaurant in the Old Quay House Hotel has a superb waterfront location and a growing reputation for Anglo-French cuisine, using local ingredients and drawing heavily on the abundance of locally caught fish and seafood. The Other Place on Fore Street also specialises in fish, and if you don't want to eat in you can always get fish and chips to take away and eat on the waterfront. Mine were delicious (although the towns seagulls thought so too!) Food for Thought on the Town Quay also uses local ingredients to the full and is well worth a visit. For out of town pub food I can recommend the Fisherman's Arms in Golant and the Ship Inn in Lerryn.
5 Surrounding area
Fowey is at the heart of one of south Cornwall's most beautiful areas, with the river itself, the countless creeks and tributaries and the tiny villages and hamlets that have grown up along its banks. Polruan, just across the water, is totally unspoilt and can be reached by water taxi. Golant and Lerryn are also beautiful spots, as is the old stannary town of Lostwithiel just a few miles upriver. Whichever way you turn, you cant fail to be impressed by the sheer natural beauty of the location.
Through the centuries Fowey has been home to countless authors and painters. The novelist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch lived in the town for 50 years, and his friend and frequent visitor, Kenneth Grahame, is said to have taken inspiration from the River Fowey for his famous children's book, The Wind in the Willows. But of course Fowey is best known as the home of Daphne du Maurier and in May every year the town hosts its popular festival of arts and literature the du Maurier Festival. Fowey Regatta is on in August. It is a fun-filled week of sailing races, crab catching, children's entertainment, a carnival, music and fireworks. The Red Arrows are scheduled to fly over Fowey on 19 August. An unmissable week!
7 A thriving community spirit
Everyone I spoke to in Fowey agreed that the town fosters a sense of well-being and belonging. Even a casual visitor cant help but notice that people take a pride in the town. The streets are clean, shop fronts are well maintained and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.