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A Cornish coastal town with a impressive natural harbour

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Du Maurier Centre
Fowey Regatta
Ignore the spelling of this town's name, because it's actually pronounced as "foy". It sits on the southern Cornish coast, next to a natural, deep water harbour. For many centuries this convenient waterway has been providing the settlement both business and pleasure. Dozens of yachts flaunt their sails next to busy cargo ships. The port even receives visits from huge cruise liners, which just about manage to squeeze through its narrow entrance.
Every August, during Regatta week, the town goes even more sailing mad. They organise races for anything that can float, from motorboats to rafts. Later on the craft are flamboyantly decorated for a nautical parade. Back on solid ground, the landlubbers keep themselves entertained with carnivals, games and fireworks.
When the Regatta's over, Fowey returns to its pretty, peaceful self. The stone cottages crowd together along the steep, cobbled streets. It can be easy to get lost among the town's twists and turns. Before too long though, you'll catch a glimpse of the sparkling water through a gap in the houses, and your sense of direction will be back.
In any case, it's no big problem to be lost in a place as pleasant as this. There's always another craft shop to investigate, or another café to relax in. Baskets of flowers hang from the windowsills, and trees cover the surrounding slopes. Much of the nearby land is part of an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so walkers are spoilt for choice. You can head north, through the open fields, or along the coast, past a mix of dramatic headland and secret beaches.
The landscape made a particularly strong impression on Daphne du Maurier, a famous 20th century author who lived nearby. She wrote such novels as "Rebecca" and "Jamaica Inn", which were smash hits in their time. Fowey remembers its literary heritage well. The Du Maurier Centre provides a permanent shrine to her and other local authors.
There's another museum inside the old town hall. It describes all the exciting tales and adventures that make up the harbour's history. As you'll discover, Fowey wasn't always such a quiet place. It was a valuable port, so it needed defending. Henry VIII was well aware of this, so he built St. Catherine's Castle on the waterfront, next to the chapel of the same name. The church is gone but the fort is still there. Its ruins are open to the public.
Another important defence was the chain that stretched all the way across the river mouth to the neighbouring village of Polruan. If the harbour was under attack, it could be pulled tight, sealing off the water completely. In these more peaceful times, ferries run freely between the two settlements. Polruan is like a smaller version of Fowey, with similarly attractive houses scattered over a steep hill. Just about any building in either place offers a spectacular view of the opposite town.
Visitor Information
Fowey Tourist Information Centre, 5 South Street, Fowey, PL23 1AR. Tel: 01726 833616

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