Cornwall Life gives 7 great reasons to live in Fowey
Fowey fosters a sense of well-being, is a friendly and relaxed town with a great community spirit. Ian Wilkinson discovers many great reasons to live here
The ancient port of Fowey lies at the mouth of the river that bears its name, approximately halfway between St Austell and Polperro. In medieval times it was an important commercial centre and port on the trade route that ran overland to the Camel Estuary on Cornwall’s north coast, linking Ireland to the continent. Today it is still an important port, trading mainly in china clay, and visitors are often surprised at the size of the ships heading up river to the deep-water quays. Fowey has that indefinable quality that all ports seem to possess – bustling, lively and cosmopolitan and very popular with tourists.
Here are seven good reasons why you may feel the same:1 A thriving community spirit
Everyone I spoke to in Fowey agreed that the town fosters a sense of well-being and belonging. Even a casual visitor can’t help but notice that people take a pride in the town. The streets are clean, shop fronts are well maintained and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.
2 Beautiful homes
There is an amazing diversity of property in Fowey and the surrounding area, ranging from traditional fishermen’s cottages and substantial Victorian villas in the town centre to modern estate-type properties and mansions in the millionaire class on the outskirts. The land rises quite steeply from the waterfront and so many of the properties a little way out of town have beautiful views of the river and the creeks on the eastern bank. A quick trawl through the books of a local estate agent produced the following examples: a modern two-bedroom house in an estate setting on the outskirts of town is for sale at �172,500; a traditional two-bedroom cottage on North Street, in the town centre, will set you back �239,995, while close by, on an exclusive terrace with waterfront access, a four bedroom period property is yours for a mere �1,195,000.
3 Great walks
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Fowey has more than its fair share of good walks. Apart from the myriad of little footpaths that crisscross the surrounding countryside, two important long-distance routes converge on the town. The first is the Saints’ Way, which traces the ancient trade and pilgrims’ route from Padstow in the north. Along its length the path meanders through valleys, woodlands, pastures, moors and villages, and even if you find the thought of a 30-mile hike daunting, it’s well worth exploring the two-mile stretch from the town to the charming village of Golant. The other path of note is of course the South West Coast path. In either direction – west to Gribbin Head or east towards Pencarrow Head – you will find some of the most breathtaking clifftop scenery in the county. It can of course be taxing in parts, so ‘breathtaking’ can have more than one meaning!
4 The history
Fowey has that irresistible link with its past, manifested in its well-preserved buildings that span the centuries. The parish church of St Fimbarrus, the beautiful 14th-century church in Golant and the holy well of St Sampson, St Catherine’s Castle, built by Henry VIII and the Ship Inn at the bottom of Lostwithiel Street all represent different ages in our county’s past.
5 Eating out
There are lots of excellent restaurants in the town and the surrounding villages. Here are just a few: Q Restaurant in the Old Quay House Hotel has a superb waterfront location and a growing reputation for Anglo-French cuisine, using local ingredients and drawing heavily on the abundance of locally caught fish and seafood. Head Chef Ben Bass is also currently providing Cornwall Life’s Masterchef recipes (see page 114). The Other Place on Fore Street also specialises in fish, and if you don’t want to eat in you can always get fish and chips to take away and eat on the waterfront. Mine were delicious (although the town’s seagulls thought so too!) Food for Thought on the Town Quay also uses local ingredients to the full and is well worth a visit. For out of town pub food I can recommend the Fisherman’s Arms in Golant and the Ship Inn in Lerryn.
6 The surrounding area
Fowey is at the heart of one of south Cornwall’s most beautiful areas, with the river itself, the countless creeks and tributaries and the tiny villages and hamlets that have grown up along its banks. Polruan, just across the water, is totally unspoilt and can be reached by water taxi. Golant and Lerryn are also beautiful spots, as is the old stannary town of Lostwithiel just a few miles upriver. Whichever way you turn, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer natural beauty of the location.
Through the centuries Fowey has been home to countless authors and painters. The novelist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch lived in the town for 50 years, and his friend and frequent visitor, Kenneth Grahame, is said to have taken inspiration from the River Fowey for his famous children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. But of course Fowey is best known as the home of Daphne du Maurier and in May every year the town hosts its popular festival of arts and literature – the du Maurier Festival. The provisional dates for 2011 are 12-21 May. Fowey Regatta is on this month from 15-21 August. It is a fun-filled week of sailing races, crab catching, children’s entertainment, a carnival, music and fireworks. The Red Arrows are schduled to fly over Fowey on 19 August. An unmissable week!
Fowey fosters a sense of well-being, is a friendly and relaxed town with a great community spirit. Ian Wilkinson discovers many great reasons to live here. Photographs by Ian Wilkinson John Hodgetts has been coming to Fowey on holiday for the past 30 years. “I love the place”, he tells me. “I come down from Wales four or five times a year and stay with some friends who own a bed and breakfast at the top of the hill. It’s so beautiful and the people are all really friendly – I would love to live here!” Lynn Goold is manager of Fowey’s Tourist Information Centre and, although not Cornish born, she has lived here since she was a baby. “Not quite a local!” she says. “But seriously, we are so lucky to live here. Really friendly people, beautiful countryside and nice walks – it’s got it all. Even when I go to nice places on holiday I never mind coming back home to Fowey.”