The Lure of Cornwall as a holiday Destination – The Fowey estuary on Cornwall’s South Coast

Closer-to-home holiday destinations are increasingly popular, especially during term- time when families look forward to half- term breaks. Brendan Connolly takes us off the beaten track to the Fowey estuary on Cornwall’s south coast.

The lure of Cornwall is a romantic one. Perhaps it’s the misty apparition of King Arthur and his knights on the rocky crags of Tintagel and Boscastle on Cornwall’s north coast, tales of smugglers, wreckers and shipwrecks, the fairytales of giants, the Mermaid of Zennor, that cast their spell over us, drawing us to the far south-west of England where Neolithic stones and Celtic crosses still stand – not to mention the cream teas and Cornish pasties the kids love so much!

This cruelly craggy coast lies to the north. Here there are few havens for ships, apart from Padstow (where ships must avoid the notorious Doom Bar), although there are some magnificent and famous sandy beaches that draw surfers from around the world.

Wooded Estuaries
But we’re travelling to Cornwall’s south coast for our half-term break. Here, the coastline is less forbidding, with a dozen or more picturesque harbours between Saltash and Land’s End, and several wooded estuaries such as Helford, Falmouth, and Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’). If you take the train from London Paddington to Penzance, Saltash is the first stop into Cornwall, having left Plymouth and crossed Brunel’s magnificent bridge (1859) that spans the river Tamar.

Timewise, there’s not much difference between car and train and, for the latter, we cross the Tamar after about three-and-a-half hours travel from Paddington, with the kids getting teasy and are-we-nearly- there-yet getting more frequent.

Yes, we are! We could be jumping out at Liskeard to take one of Britain’s rare surviving branch lines (single track) to Looe, a busy fishing port and popular summer destination for holidaymakers. However, our stop is another half- hour west where we alight at Par station. From Par you can take a branch line to the north coast town of Newquay or take a cab over the hill to Fowey.

River Trips
Fowey is a haven for those who love being on or in the water. There are many good bathing beaches nearby and the harbour is popular with visiting yachts. The floating pontoons where yachts come and go are also very popular with kids who love to go ‘crabbing’. Dangling bait on a piece of string lowered into the clear waters, then popping the clinging crabs into crabbing buckets is keenly competitive during spring, summer and autumn holidays. River trips in local boats and self-drive hire boats are also popular, taking visitors upstream to enjoy the wooded estuary and wildlife. Herons and kingfishers are common, and the rare osprey is sometimes a migrating visitor.

Fowey offers many self-catering holiday cottages as well as a popular family hotel, Fowey Hall, with its magnificent harbour and sea views.

Although Fowey relies heavily on tourism, the town has the unique charm of also being a working port. The area was once world famous for its very fine quality china clay and a reduced industry still continues today, with small cargo ships from afar making their way importantly through the harbour, upstream for a mile to the jetties where thousands of tons of china clay are loaded each week.

Best-kept Secret
The picturesque Fowey estuary reveals a great many charms as you take a boat upstream,past Ferryside, once the home of Daphne du Maurier, further upstream to the village of Golant – this stretch of the river is famous for giving the inspiration for Wind In The Willows. The estuary is tidal of course, with low tide revealing safe sandbars where children staying in the village love to play with bucket and spade, while the keen anglers make best use of the low tide by digging for sandeels, which they use on the rising tide to catch bass. When the tide is high, children are eager to start crabbing again from the small quay wall, the rule being that the crabs are finally returned to the water. Families can also enjoy kayaking in the estuary, with organised groups by Encounter Cornwall regularly setting out from Golant.

This village still rates as a best-kept secret, being pretty much off the beaten track. There is a small hotel, The Cormorant, which also has a restaurant, and there are several self-catering holiday cottages.

Of particular note is The Boathouse beautifully and tastefully furnished to a high standard. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular holiday properties in the area.

For those in search of nightlife, take a trip to Newquay on the north coast, but if you’re looking for a tranquil and relaxing holiday in magnificent surroundings, then the Fowey area is the place for you.


For more travel recommendations visit Viva Argentina

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get
• FREE Competitions
• FREE Digital Magazines
• HOME and FAMILY News
And much more…

You have Successfully Subscribed!