A safe harbour

    Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this pretty harbour town is situated on the west side of a deep estuary, where the Fowey River reaches the sea. Yachts tack back and forth across the water while gulls cry overhead.

    481PORTRAIT-Fowey Harbour Barnacle, Bird Photography.jpg
    The view towards Polruan

    Take in the views

    Get an overview of the beautiful harbour with a stroll out along the Esplanade, passing the grand parade of Edwardian and Victorian houses, to the beach at Readymoney Cove overlooked by the medieval St Catherine’s Castle guarding the harbour entrance. Across the water, the village of Polruan is said to be far older than Fowey, its medieval blockhouse once housing a chain which could be pulled up to stop boats entering the harbour.

    Alternatively catch the ferry across to Bodinnick and explore the Hall Walk as it meanders through the woodland above the river all the way to Polruan where another ferry brings you back to Fowey. A slight diversion takes you to Lanteglos Church where Daphne Du Maurier got married, arriving by boat up the beautiful Pont Creek.

    Those wanting a longer walk should carry on past St Catherine’s Castle and follow the South West Coast Path out to Gribben Head with its iconic red and white daymark. On the way you will pass Polridmouth Beach, with its pond and lonely cottage. Du Maurier is thought to have been inspired by this beach when she was writing ‘Rebecca’.

    Messing about in boats

    Nobody should leave Fowey without spending some time on the river. The easiest way is to take the passenger ferry across the harbour to Polruan, weaving in and out of boats of all shapes and sizes. For a longer trip, pleasure boats regularly depart from the Town Quay steps taking you on a guided tour up stream. Out of sight of most visitors you will quickly come across the China clay docks where large ships are loaded with the white powder mined not that far away above St Austell.

    The more intrepid might want to take to the water on an escorted trip in a canoe, kayak or SUP. This is the perfect way for observing the abundant river wildlife and wooded creeks and is a real adventure even if you’re a total novice. Let the tide carry you up river perhaps veering off to the pretty villages of Lerryn or Golant, or carry on up to St Winnow where a lonely church sits by the waters edge. On a very high tide you might even reach Lostwithiel, Cornwall ancient capital.

    For those with their own craft, Fowey provides a popular safe harbour with plenty of moorings, some with power, fresh water and fuel, wifi is also available as are showers at the yacht clubs. A private water taxi is available to ferry visitors to and from the quayside.

    As you walk the narrow streets where mediaeval and Georgian buildings cast shadows over each other, a vibrant maritime history comes to life. Small, independent shops selling unusual gifts, art, clothing and books vie with cafes and pubs for your attention, whilst small alleys offer glimpses of the river every now and again.

    the little grey sea town…….that clings along one steep side of the harbour.

    Kenneth GrahameThe Wind in the Willows
    The Rook with a Book

    A writer's haven

    Immortalised in 'The Wind in the Willows' as 'the little grey sea town…….that clings along one steep side of the harbour’ Fowey has been an inspiration for authors for over 100 years.

    Probably its best known writer is Daphne Du Maurier who lived in and around the town and based several of her novels, including ‘Rebecca’, ‘The Loving Spirit’ and ‘House on the Strand’ in the area.

    Kenneth Grahame, author of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ holidayed in the town several times, staying with his friend Arthur Quiller-Couch, who also wrote several novels about the town, including his last ‘Castle Dor’ a retelling of the Tristan and Iseult legend, which was finished by Du Maurier after his death.

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    Holiday Parks & Camping in Fowey

    Penhale Caravan & Camping Park


    Small, family run park overlooking St Austell Bay and the sea. Close to sandy beaches in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Eden Project, with many scenic walks, Penhale is perfect for expl...

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    Hotel in Fowey

    The Old Quay House

    The Old Quay House in Fowey on the South Cornwall coast is a whitewashed Victorian building, once a refuge for seamen now a boutique luxury hotel and a modern-day refuge from the stresses of daily lif...

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    Things to do in Fowey

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    Plan your trip

    Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Fowey

    • From the M5 at Exeter, take the A38 to Plymouth and continue over the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall. Shortly after bypassing Liskeard, take the A390 towards St Austell passing through Lostwithiel. Shortly after climbing out of Lostwithiel take a turning on the left signposted to Fowey.

      There is a large carpark off Hanson Drive above the town (a town bus takes people back and forth from the centre) or another at Caffa Mill by the Bodinnick Ferry. There is also a car park on the way out to Readymoney Cove for people visiting the south end of the town.

    • The National Express London to Penzance coach stops in St Austell (2022) from where there are bus services into Fowey.

      Fowey is served by buses from Newquay and Mevagissey, both go through St Austell.

      A bus also runs to Polruan from Looe, allowing you to access Fowey via a ferry.

    • Although a railway line still runs from Lostwithiel to Fowey, it is only for goods to the docks.

      The nearest train station for passengers is Par from where busses head to and from Fowey.

    • Newquay Airport is only 20 miles away but there is no direct public transport to Fowey.

      The No 25 bus runs from Newquay to St Austell and onto Fowey.

    • Yes, the sandy Readymoney Cove is out towards the mouth of the harbour and faces across to the village of Polruan, so great for morning swims in the sunshine! There's a little cafe/shop there and public toilets.

      It's a five minute walk from the beach car park and about a 20 minute walk from the town centre. There's good access for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

      Dogs are allowed on the beach, except between the hours of 10am and 6pm, in July and August. (2022)

      Elsewhere, a walk along the South West Coast Path, both to the west, or east beyond Polruan, will bring you to several lovely hidden away coves.

    • It would be very wrong of Visit Cornwall to say one place was nicer than the other, that's a decision only a visitor can make. The two destinations are different, Mevagissey being more of a fishing harbour whilst Fowey caters for the yachts and pleasure boats.

      Another difference is that Fowey is on the river rather than facing directly out to sea, so there's always something going on, even when the sea is stormy. With a working docks upriver, it's not unusual to see large ships making their way past the town, and in the summer cruise ships often visit for the day.

      Mevagissey is a working harbour with fishing boats coming and going on the tide. It doesn't have a beach as such but nearby you have Portmellon and Gorran Haven.

    • You can always tell a holiday maker by the way they pronounce certain Cornish placenames... Tintagel, Launceston, Mevagissey, Mousehole.... but probably the most common mispronunciation is Fowey.

      It rhymes with toy, not cow, so say Foy and you won't be far wrong!

      The name comes from the old Cornish word for Beech Tree, and is taken from the name of the river rather than the town.

    • You can, but we wouldn't recommend it!

      The road down into the town centre and through it is one-way and narrow. In the height of the season it is crammed with holiday makers and it will take you ages to make your way through. It is a far better idea to park at the top in the main carpark and catch the hoppa bus down and back up.

      There is also a carpark at Caffa Mill beside where the car ferry comes across from Bodinnick. From here it is a reasonably level walk into the centre.

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