Fowey River - Creeks and Coves Walk
Two ferry rides across a busy river, a chance to window shop in the town of Fowey, a classic walk above a wooded creek followed by a fine strtech of the coast path. To add to that the whole area is soaked in the ghost of Daphne du Maurier.
This walk starts in the main carpark in Polruan, but you could start in Fowey, or even Bodinnick. From the carpark follow a path that heads out towards the headland overlooking the mouth of the Fowey River. The route then descends down into the village via Battery Lane, at the bottom of which a short diversion left will take you out to a 15th century blockhouse that once stopped enemy ships getting into the harbour by raising a chain.
Retracing your steps, carry straight ahead until you reach a crossroads in the centre of the village. Turn left here onto the quayside. Polruan is thought to have been a settlement along time before Fowey came about, but these days it is very much the smaller of the two. The boat yard on your right is always busy and you are never sure what sort of craft will be taking up space on the slipways. Walk around in front of the pub to find the steps where the ferry for Fowey leaves from.
Depending on the time of year, you will arrive in Fowey at either Whitehouse or Town Quay. If it is Whitehouse, climb the lane to the Esplanade. The large house on the left at the top of the ramp is The Haven, home of the writer Sir Arthur Quiller Couch. He was good friends with Kenneth Graham who used his trips to Fowey as inspiration for Wind in the Willows. Turning right, you will eventually arrive at Town Quay, where the ferry docks during quiet times. From the waterside, head right along the busy Fore Street with its shops, galleries and eateries. The road gets narrow in places and you will probably have to duck into a doorway or two before you reach Caffa Mill where the car ferry crosses to Bodinnick.
Once again cross the water taking in the view upstream and down. Upstream the China clay docks are still used to export the 'white gold' out of Cornwall, much of it sent to Scandinavia to be used in the paper industry. As you arrive in Bodinnick, the house on your right is Ferryside, once the home of Daphne du Maurier and from where she wrote several of her early novels including 'The Loving Spirit' set in Polruan.
Head straight uphill past the Old Ferry Inn and the small church of St John until you reach a footpath on the right, signposted Hall Walk. This is one of Cornwall's classic walks, as it contours along the top of a wooded hillside. There are stunning views down the river, across to Fowey and out to sea. When the granite monument to Arthur Quiller-Couch, or “Q”, is reached, the path turns left to follow Pont Pill, a typical wooded Cornish creek. It leaves the woodland briefly before re-entering it by a lovely stile and taking you down to the creek. Turn right and follow the track down behind the cottages to emerge on the riverside.
Pont Pill was at one time a busy little harbour, most of the buildings are the result of the maritime trade carried on here, including two limekilns. But over the years it has silted up and can now only be reached on the highest of tides. Cross the footbridge and take a look at the notice board on the wall of the house displaying prices for goods passing through in times past. After this go straight ahead up the path to the left of the buildings.
The little footpath climbs up to a lane, turn left here and then go through a gate on your right. This path leads up to Lanteglos Church where Daphne du Maurier was married in 1932. The church is well worth a visit before going out onto the lane and turning left. Follow the lane to the junction where there is a National Trust Car Park for Lantic Bay. Cross the road and take the path between road and field, leading into a large field where you turn sharp left. Soon you will be greeted by a stuning view as you look down on Lantic Bay and out towards Pencarrow head.This whole stretch of coastline is part of the south Cornwall AONB.
To experience the views from the headland carry on to the gate, and once through it continue straight on ignoring the path on your right that takes you down to the beach. If you fancy going down, do, but be warned, it's a long way back up! If you dont walk out to the headland and just want to continue the walk, dont go through the gate but turn right and follow the South West Coast Path as it descends and then climbs behind the bay. After several more ups and downs (and plenty of places to stop and take in the view) you will arrive back in Polruan. On entering the village turn left and follow the lane, with the school on your right, back to the carpark.
The National Coastwatch Station sits beside the remains of St Saviour's Tower, part of a 13th century chapel that housed pilgrims prior to departing by sea for Santiago de Compostella in Galicia. This pilgrimage route from Ireland and Wales to Spain is celebrated by the Saint's Way walk from Padstow to Fowey.
Walk length 5 miles (8km)
OS Map Explorer 107
Public Toilets in Polruan, Fowey and Bodinnick
Walk created by Walkaboutwest August 2020