Posted on 14th June 2016 at 8:37am
Fowey – a Cornish Gem
(Not to mention Rebecca, Dirk Bogarde, Arnhem and Omaha Beach).
I hope that you, like me, have had several ‘What an amazing sight’ moments. The first time I saw the Manhattan skyline was one. The view looking on to San Francisco was another. I recall that ‘wow’ factor as we drove down into Fowey in Cornwall.
I think that the vast Cornish coastline is a national treasure and there are many number of brilliant views, but on that specific day, the Fowey views were truly magical.
There are a number of ways to take short river cruises and learn about the history of the area, which has been an important naval centre for several centuries. You can even hire your own boat if you wish to check out the area in your own time.
When you’re in Fowey you’ll find quaint cottages running up and down narrow steep streets. You’ll also find the most amazing bistros, restaurants and tea rooms scattered around all serving local produce. The bistros and restaurants also take advantage of the local fish, lobster, mussels etc. caught every morning.
If you choose to take a walk along many of the streets coming off the Esplanade or even Fore street on the Polruan side you’ll come across many independent bespoke shops offering some unusual gifts, books and artwork to mention just a few.
Fowey has a long history and you can find out about it all at the Fowey museum located in the town centre as well as visiting the Fowey aquarium located on the town Quay.
The whole of Fowey is set in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and as such you’ll find many great walks around the estuary and up into the countryside surrounding the town.
The Connection with “The Longest Day”
Fowey was the main port for loading ammunition for the US 29th Division that landed on Omaha Beach on D Day. In early September 1943 the US forces were unloading an average of 49 wagons of ammunition a day with a peak of 103 wagons in a day.
Daphne du Maurier Connection
I can understand why Daphne du Maurier, one of the leading female novelists of her day, chose to live in Fowey. She lived in Menabilly, a Georgian mansion, for many years. She wanted to buy the house from her landlord, a member of the Rashleigh family, but that was resisted. .
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’ is the much quoted opening line of Rebecca. This book, first published in 1938 remains in print and has sold over 2 million copies. The 1940 film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.
The du Maurier connection remains to this day, with the novelist’s son Kits Browning living at the magnificent Ferryside House. The Fowey Festival continues to include a strand of du Maurier themed events from walks showcasing the inspiration behind the author’s stories to book readings and debates.
“A Bridge Too Far”
And where does Dirk Bogarde and Arnhem come into all of this? Daphne du Maurier” husband was the distinguished General Frederick ‘Boy’ Browning who was portrayed by Dirk Bogarde in the film ‘A Bridge Too Far.’ The film tells the story of the airborne Allied assault and battle at Arnhem in 1944.
How to Get to Fowey
First Great Western, Crosscountry & Wessex Trains operate between mainline stations in Cornwall and much of the country, including express services to London Paddington, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
For Fowey, Golant, Tywardreath and Par the nearest stations are Par and St Austell. First Kernow No 24 run a regular service to near these stops. For Polruan, Lanteglos, Bodinnick, Lerryn and Lostwithiel the nearest stations are Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway and Lostwithiel, from these stops you may need to use a taxi.
Local services also operate to main line stations throughout Cornwall from Lostwithiel, Par and St Austell. Branch line services operate to Newquay from Par, Looe from Liskeard, Falmouth from Truro and St Ives from St Erth.
Once you have navigated your way to the M5 in Devon you can get to Fowey by either the A30 or the A38/A390.
Then from the A30 leave at the Bodmin exit following signs for Lostwithiel, B3268/B3269.
Take the B3269 towards Lostwithiel until reaching the T-junction with the A390 where you turn right onto the A390 and follow signs for Fowey.
Eating & Drinking and Things to Do
The Ship Inn – Fowey’s Oldest Pub.
Built in 1570 by John Rashleigh. Today it serves high quality local fare:
“The menu makes full use of the fish and seafood coming in to port every morning and the superb produce from nearby farms. The drinks include a healthy dose of Cornish ales, a proper wine list and real coffee for the morning after.”
After looking at the menu the Fowey Fish Stew with Pollock, Tiger Prawn, Mussels, Chorizo & Fresh Tarragon really stand out as well as the fresh river mussels plus the Cornish crab, I could go on but it’s probably easier to take a look at the menu yourselves.
The Ship Inn is also know as ‘The Old Lady of Fowey’ and its true to say that this amazing Inn has welcomed and looked after literally hundreds of thousands of people during its long history.
The Cormorant – A Boutique Hotel
“The Cormorant Hotel can be found in the village of Golant and sits alongside the magnificent Fowey River, and is just a short distance up river from the charming harbour town of Fowey.
The views from the terrace are absolutely amazing and the boutique rooms are so light and airy. The rooms have river views, comfy beds with quality goose feather & down duvets. Some rooms also have their own balcony which makes this superb hotel a fantastic place to stay.
The Cormorant Hotel is located in relaxing and peaceful surroundings and we think it won’t be long before you’ve forgotten about that hectic life you may have had.
45 Minute River Cruise
“Enjoy the sight of the busy Fowey River and harbour while being given a comentary by the skipper.
Fowey has a lot of history, a large part of which is mentioned on this trip.
You will be guided up river as far as Wisemans Reach passing Daphne du Maurier’s house, Fowey docks, where the ships load China clay, and the mussel farm before heading downstream past Place House, the blockhouses, Readymoney Cove, the harbour entrance and the village of Polruan.”
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