Boat Trips from Fowey

A Car Free Day Out around St Austell EA05

There are regular bus services between St Austell and Fowey (No.25)

The best way to experience the beauty of the River Fowey is by boat.

Ken Langmaid, a lover of all things Cornish, especially the Fowey River, wrote:

After the Fal the best boating river in Cornwall and possibly better than the Fal if you just want to row, not being so vast. Like all the Cornish boating rivers the Fowey is in it’s estuary section only and conditions depend very much on the state of the tide . At low water boats are confined to the lower reaches ,but as the tide rises ,the upper parts of the estuary and side creeks can be penetrated for many miles . The best plan is to go up from Fowey with the flood tide and return on the ebb, or if you take a boat from say Golant or Lostwithiel,the opposite of this would be ideal.

 I will now briefly to describe the chief features of interest accessible by boat.Starting at the town quay,Fowey and following the western bank of the river upstream, the quaint waterfront buildings of the old town are seen to advantage ,many of them with steps down to the water and balconies overhanging the river. The slipway of the Bodinnick car ferry is passed and then a little creek by the railway station,crowded with small boat moorings. From here onwards there is a succesion of jetties where china clay is loaded onto ships from many parts of the world.Foreign ships and seamen are a source of interest. By a quay and huge structure rising from the river bed the valley makes a sharp turn to the left and very soon the steep bank becomes wooded. The railway line from Fowey to Lostwithiel runs close to the water, cutting off the mouth of several little creeks from the main channel.

The creeks can be entered at high tide,however by passing under little railway bridges. The first of these inlets appears on the left. Just above here there is a sand bar across the river wich requires careful negotiating when the tide is going down. Very soon Golant is aproached with its quay thronged with small boats and its creek behind the railway line. Continnuing upstream the lovely woods and parkland of Penquite are passed and where the river seems to divide a charming boat house is passed. This little building occupies an enviable position facing the the Lerryn Creek and is said to have been built for Queen Victoria, to view Lerryn Regatta. Whether this be true or not,certain it is that a memorial stone  commemorates the landing place for King Edward V11 in 1901. Unfortunatly the building does not appear to be used any more and is becoming derelict. Even the memorial stone is gradually slipping into the river. Presently Penquite itself,late Georgian house of two storeys and 5 bays,with a pediment over three central bays becomes visible on the hilltop – a lovely picture,when seen from the river. A little beach is passed and then a creek which leads to the woods of Woodgate. Next comes Lantyan Wood, then Milltown Wood  where a stream comes down from the west. Above here the estuary narrows considerably asnd a mile or so of twisting stream remains to be ascended.

Lostwithiel is at the head of navigation;it is accessible by small boat at high tide only. Going down river from Lostwithiel the eastern bank of the river presents scenes of absolute beauty. Numerous old manor houses are set in this lonely,unspoiled countryside, each with its land sloping to the river bank and in some cases with a tiny saltwater creek like a door leading to the river, the Channel, the ocean and the whole world. Polmena, Newham (with a creek), and the riverside manor house by St. Winnow’s church are passed. There is a nice landing spot just below here, the last for a considerable distance, for the river now becomes margined by a low tree-clad cliff.

At St. Winnow Point the river Lerryn comes down from the east. The creek extends for 1.5 miles between exquisite scenes of wooded spendour. There are several creeklets to be explored before Lerryn is reached On the north bank is Ethy – a manor house and park. Continuing down from the main river a small gravelly beach is passed,then the Land and creek of Cliff with Manely on the hilltop. After half a mile of steeply sloping river bank,rough and untamed,another creek invites exploration – Penpoll.This too is about 1.5miles long,but lacks the woods of Lerryn. Instead there is a peaceful countryside of fields and hedges,with

a fringe of trees by the water’s edge. A tongue of water on the north leads to St.Cadix, site of a priory. On the hilltop is the church of St.Veep. Another half a mile and a point marks the right angle bend in the river by the china clay jetties. There are oyster beds here. Around the bend comes Rosebank where yachts are beached. Then Mixtow Pill (muddy),some more woods,an old fish cellar,Bodinnick with a good landing place (and a pub), Daphne Du Maurier’s lovely riverside residence,and the huge buoys where ships are laid up. The estuary becomes more maritine here – there are thousands of seashells and at low tide it is worth exploring under the seaweed. Besides shore crabs I have found small edible crabs and pipe fish here.At Penleath Point there is a small landing place and a footpath up the hill to the Quiller Couch memorial and the famous Hall walk high above the river. Hall itself with it’s ancient chapel lies beyond. The next and last creek is in some ways the most beautiful of all. It is called Pont Pill and stretches about a mile.The hillsides here are steeper than ever,in some places even merging into rocky crags. From Pont at the head of the creek there is a way up to Lanteglos church, one of the most beautiful in Cornwall.

One of the huts on the southside of Pont Pill is the scene of Leo Warmsley’s autobiographical novel;Love in the Sun. Towards the mouth of the creek there is a sandy beach and a favourite prawning ground. Around Brawn Point Hunkin’s shipyard is reached and Polruan Pool is entered. This sheltered stretch of water is the favourite mooring place for small craft. There are several small beaches at Polruan. The ruined  castle and St.Lavears point mark the end of the sheltered estuary and the beginning of the open sea where conditions of boating are vastly different.

Taken from a handwritten script written in the 1960’s, some place names may be incorrect and places may have undergone minor changes in the last 50 years!

After reading this you may want to take a rowing boat, canoe or kayak up the River Fowey. If so go to our A Car Free Day Out around St Austell EA06 for helpful advice. Alternatively enjoy a guided boat trip as suggested here:

Between Easter and October various boat trips are available from the Town Quay in Fowey:

  • River Trips – This is usually a 45 minute trip around the harbour taking in the sights from the docks up river down to the harbour mouth with the boatman providing information on what you can see. These trips do not need to be booked in advance but operate throughout the day.
  • Lerryn and Lostwithiel Trips – These trips are dependent on the high spring tide so only run for a few days about every two weeks. The trips last about three hours and will only visit either Lerryn or Lostwithiel in a trip. You will usually have just under an hour to explore once you arrive. The boatmen display boards on Town Quay advertising when these trips run and normally they need to be booked in advance.
  • Guided River Trips – There are two trips available both lasting about three hours with around one hour ashore. There are only a few of these trips each year and advance booking for these trips is essential, the dates and contact details can be found in our events guide.
  • The Wind in the Willows River Trip to Lerryn is accompanied by a Blue Badge Guide who will provide information not only on the subject of the trip but also the sights along the way.
  • The Stannary Cruise to Lostwithiel is a trip up the river to Lostwithiel where you will be met by a Blue Badge Guide for a tour of the town.

For further information call Fowey River & Sea Cruises on 07891516635 or to book a guided trip call the TIC on 01726 833616