A must stop when in Cornwall is the beautiful and historic harbour town of Fowey. Situated on the mouth of the River Fowey along the pretty south coast, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
This medieval harbour town still maintains an interesting link with its past and has well-preserved buildings that extend across the centuries. The town is fringed in by fourteenth century block houses, one on either side of the river from which chains were once suspended so that the harbour mouth could be closed. The Polruan blockhouse can be visited on foot. Owing to its safe waters trade prospered here during Medieval times, and during the 100 Year's War a band of privateers utilized the safe natural harbour to their advantage to pilfer French vessels.
In medieval times Fowey was an important commercial centre and today still remains a bustling and vibrant port with a commercial life, trading mainly in clay, as well as acting as a mooring for leisure vessels. In the summer months hundreds of yachts are anchored in the water providing an impressive spectacle.
There is no shortage of things to see and do whilst here, with gorgeous gardens, museums, boat trips, coastal and cliff top walks, cycling and much more available, the choice is yours.
Fowey is probably best known as the birth place of Daphne du Marnier and in commemoration annually in May the town hosts a popular festival of arts and literature, the du Marnier festival. The Daphne du Marnier Literary Centre is situated next to the church and has information on all of Fowey's literary associations.
Each August the Fowey Regatta is held and is a fun-filled week of events with sailing races, crab catching, children's entertainment, a carnival, music and fireworks. A real crowd pleaser.
Pretty houses and traditional fishermen's cottages are clustered in terraces on the steep wooded slopes and have beautiful views of the river. The Esplanade is a narrow street found high on the west side of the Fowey estuary, it leads you down to Readymoney Cove and St Catherine's Castle and provides beautiful views. Located at the top end of the Esplanade is the Tow Quay taking you to the centre of the town and a number of attractions.
During the summer months Fowey Town Hall, an 18th century stone building contains a small aquarium and a museum. The Fowey Aquarium dates back to 1952 although small, it provides an insight into the marine life found around the Cornish coast. Most of its inhabitants were caught by local fisherman. Fowey Museum although compact is brimming with exhibits that portray the local social and family history of Fowey. Exhibits include civic regalia, costumes, weapons, model ships, traditional shipyard tools, maritime photographs and much more.
To the south of the harbour is Readymoney Cove, a south-east facing sandy beach. It is protected by cliffs and is enclosed by the town of Fowey on one side and on the other St. Catherine's Castle.
St. Catherine's Castle is a small 16th century artillery fort located at the harbour entrance. It was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII to defend Fowey harbour. It is easily accessible on foot from Readymoney Cove and is free to enter. In medieval times St Catherine's chapel stood on the cliff top, displaying a light which, functioned as a lighthouse.
On Fore Street, the main shopping artery is the Old House of Foye, a charming medieval house erected in 1430. It is one of the oldest buildings in Fowey and today is a shop. It still retains many original features with the walls, beamed interior and fireplace barely changed over the years.
St Fimbarrus Church is the beautiful and historic Parish Church, dedicated to St Finbarr it was destroyed in the 15th century but later rebuilt by the Earl of Warwick. Inside is a spectacular wagon roof that dates to the 15th century, a 400-year-old pulpit made from the panelling of a Spanish Galleon, the baptismal font is Norman and cut from local Cataceuse stone. Standing behind the church is the tower Place House, home to the Treffry family since the 13th century.
There are frequent ferries to Polruan, another interesting village to visit. The crossing provides pretty views of both idyllic towns. Ferries zip across the estuary frequently throughout the year.
Water features largely here and there are many options available to enjoy these beautiful waters. Take a narrated cruise on the river, passing the home of 20th-century playwright Daphne du Maurier and checking out the china clay docks, mussel farm, the 15th-century blockhouses and the scenic harbour entrance.
The estuary provides ideal conditions for water activities like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle-boarding, the scenery on both sides of the estuary adding to the overall experience. Whilst on the water you may also get to encounter some local wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for seals, otters and dolphins in addition to a number of wading birds.
There is no shortage of walks here in Fowey, there are countless little footpaths that traverse the town and surrounding countryside. There are two significant long-distance routes that convene in the town. Firstly, there is Saints Way, this follows the ancient trade and pilgrims route from Padstow in the north taking, in valleys, woodlands, pastures, moors and villages. At 30-miles it is a serious hike but, well worth the exertion. Alternatively, a more moderate option is the two-mile walk to the charming village of Golant, again well worth exploring. The other extensive route is the South West Coast path, either direction provides the most stunning clifftop scenery. It can be difficult in parts but, again so worth the effort, you will not be disappointed.
When it comes to eating out there are lots of superb restaurants in the town and you are spoilt for choice. Waterfront locations, local ingredients and fresh locally caught fish and seafood are found on the menu's here.
The locals of Fowey take a real sense of pride in their delightful town, this is evident from the clean streets, well maintained shop fronts and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that permeates.