Fowey (pronounced Foy and rhymes with joy) has a long history as a port town, both Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh sailed out of here… and in modern times the annual Royal Regatta, one of Britain’s premier sailing events, ensures a continuing maritime focus.
One of Cornwall’s many idyllic spots, it is popular with cruise ship passengers who meander the little streets lined with individual shops – more about these later, along with eateries and historic buildings such as the Old House of Fowey (1430) and Noah’s Ark, a 15th century merchant’s dwelling.
The town stretches along the west bank of the River Fowey estuary and faces the ancient village of Polruan across the watery divide, it too a maze of narrow alleys; a regular ferry connects the two. All along and surrounding the estuary are places of interest and landmarks such as castles, grand houses and gardens, and centuries-old churches.
Fowey is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and many famous folk have lived here. One of the most celebrated being the literary figure Daphne Du Maurier, who resided in several homes in the area and captured the spirit of Cornwall and her love of it in her writing. You’ll discover a literary shop in the town dedicated to her.
For hiking or strolling, there are lots of lovely walks: cliff top, country or in the town, where you can enjoy a guided route; as well as river cruises and fishing trips, including The Wind in the Willows special travelling to Lerryn. This is said to be based on the trip that inspired Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame, he never lived here but visited Fowey many times.
Fall in love with Fowey
As well as the Regatta, another major event in the Fowey calendar is the annual Festival of Words and Music during March, formerly the Du Maurier festival. Many well known names, including best selling authors, participate and the programme ranges across talks, interviews, workshops, exhibitions, theatre, concerts, presentations, guided walks, cruises and an Art Trail.
Another aspect of the joy of Fowey is the independent shops and galleries, where visitors can find original Cornish arts and crafts, local foods, distinctive clothes, jewellery, antiques, book and gift stores, as well as practical daily needs retailers. Should you feel your home would benefit from a brightly painted fibreglass boat planter, you’ll find it at Boatyard Bloomers on Passage Lane – and many shops sell unusual items of quality design and make.
Another pleasure is eating here, either by the water or in the town whether opting for takeaway traditional fish and chips, sandwiches and cakes, or selecting a bistro, cafe, pub or fine dining restaurant establishment.
On the activity front, opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and horse riding are around and the beach at Readymoney Cove can be reached on foot if you fancy a swim or, at low tide, rock pooling. Closer still is the Whitehouse beach, with large sea water paddling pool, and there is a sand beach at Polruan Quay (neither beach at high tide). There are other beautiful, National Trust owned beaches and coves to explore.