Ancient buildings, narrow alleyways and a medieval bridge over the River Fowey, all combine to make Lostwithiel an intriguing place to visit. There's also numerous antique shops and trendy cafés making the town a great destination to discover.
The Duchy capital
Steeped in heritage, Lostwithiel was once an important port, exporting tin to the Mediterranean. Its importance was recognised in the 13th century when the Duchy Palace was built here along with Restormel Castle just north of the town. It became the administrative capital of Cornwall, a role it still plays in that the offices of the Duchy of Cornwall are still to be found there, as does the Duchy Palace, situated in the centre of the town.
King Charles III, when the Duke of Cornwall, and other members of his family, have been known to stay in the area when visiting.
A good place to shop
Lostwithiel is a great place to spend some time trawling round the town’s numerous antique shops, rummaging through what’s on offer and driving a bargain. The Community Centre holds various antique fairs throughout the year, plus there’s an auctioneer in town.
Other ‘interesting’ shops trade in haberdashery, upcycling, jewellery, vintage fabric and gifts of all shapes and sizes. Mix these in with a smattering of cafes, bakeries and a deli and your day will fly by.
Everybody meets by the Medieval bridge, to sit beside the River Fowey and let the day pass by. Kids play in the water and adults enjoy community events such as Lostfest and Lost in Music.
A walk in the wild wood
Three miles downstream from Lostwithiel is a wooded creek leading up to the pretty village of Lerryn. If the tides out, you can and cross the river on stepping-stones and walk through the ‘wild woods’ that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s famous novel “Wind in the Willows”.
Go far enough and you get to St Winnow with its riverside church and quirky farming museum. A more tranquil setting in Cornwall, you’d be hard pushed to find. Back at Lerryn, the shop or pub will be happy to refresh you while you sit beside the water and watch the ducks.
Lostwithiel proves that you don't have to be on the coast to find magical places in Cornwall.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Lostwithiel
Lostwithiel is on the mainline through Cornwall, but please be aware not all trains stop here.
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 and you will pass through Lostwithiel.
There are two free car parks in the town, one beside the Community Centre and one down beside the river.
The National Express London to Penzance coach stops in Lostwithiel (2022)
Local bus services to the town are infrequent and it's best to check at the time.
Of course it is, unless you are looking for a beach or a buzzing nightclub!
It's the sort of place you visit for its history, for its antique shops or to walk along the river. Go there for a nice lunch or an evening meal, visit Restormel Castle or the Duchy Nursery.
It's got free parking too!
Being on the Fowey River, Lostwithiel was once a busy port, unfortunately today the only time boats can reach Lostwithiel is on a high tide, and then it's best to check how high the tide will be and be aware of the channel through the mudflats!
No problem for kayakers and canoeists, who may be able to carry on upstream past the town depending on the amount of water in the river.
It was the capital of Cornwall back in the middle ages, and you can still see the former Duchy Palace in the heart of the town. Upriver Restormel Castle sits on a hill overlooking the valley, once a hunting lodge for the Black Prince.
Today Lostwithiel likes to call itself the Antique Capital of Cornwall, and there certainly seems to be a good number of shops selling everything from antique furniture to second-hand books. They also have collectors fayres in the community hall on certain Sundays.
The main towns are St Austell and Falmouth, but smaller towns and villages include Saltash, Looe, Polperro, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Fowey, Mevagissey and St Mawes.
Some people even include the city of Truro in south Cornwall, and we wouldn't argue.
The general rule is anywhere south of Bodmin Moor and the A30, until you get into West Cornwall, for example Penzance is on the south coast but is in West Cornwall.
The River Fowey snakes its way through 27 miles of some of the finest Cornish landscape, starting high on Bodmin Moor and eventually reaching the sea at Fowey.
It starts off as a group of springs below Brown Willey, Cornwall's highest hill. From there it runs south past Jamaica Inn and down the Draynes Valley to Golitha Falls. Here you will find a car park and plenty of walks amongst the woodland.
Falling off of Bodmin Moor's granite uplands it veers south west meeting the Loveny River near the Trago Mills shopping outlet. Here it forms the wide Glynn Valley, through which also goes the main railway line and the A38 trunk road. It passes Bodmin Parkway Station and then flows through the Lanhydrock Estate at the pretty Respryn Bridge.
It soon reaches Lostwithiel and the tidal part of the river. From here it spreads out, meandering through reed beds and at low tide large areas of mud. Various creeks go off on either side to former ports such as Lerryn and Penpol before it reaches the docks upriver from Fowey.
By now the river has become a deep harbour, full of boats of all shape and size. As far removed from the little boggy springs high on Bodmin Moor as you could imagine.
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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