Words: Gabriella Dyson. Photography: Alexandra House Studio
Strolling through the pretty streets of Fowey, it’s little wonder why the town attracts a well-heeled sort of crowd. Rows of smart tiered terraces overlook the wooded banks of the estuary, a myriad of galleries, independent shops and restaurants call its streets home, and Fowey’s Readymoney Cove is the perfect little sun-trap. It’s easy to be won over by the white-washed lanes and unspoilt blue waters. But if you don’t fancy relocating to the southern town just yet, you can always enjoy it for a weekend.
Shopping in Fowey
Like every Cornish town, Fowey has its share of national chains. But it’s also blessed with a number of independent shops and galleries. Jo Downs Gallery showcases stunning fused glass creations, from handmade gifts to statement interior pieces. The Webb Street Company is a quirky little store brimming with unique gifts and artwork, many of which have been sourced locally or have Cornwall and the sea at their core.
Elsewhere, White Doll Arts sell beautiful thrown pottery and whimsical ceramics; and Pink Lemons Boutique is your best bet for silk kimonos and delicate gemstone jewellery. Shrew Books is a beloved bookshop nestled in the bustling main street. They stock a curated selection of books, flagging Cornish writers and Cornish settings, as well as an exciting range of fiction and non-fiction titles.
If it’s food you seek, Kittows of Fowey should be your next stop. This charming, family-run butchers and delicatessen is brimming with all sorts of delicacies. There are designated meat and cheese counters along with homemade preserves, cakes and pies – many of which are made on their family farm. Grab yourself a wicker basket and fill it with everything you could possibly need for a picnic; but save space for a quick trip to Quay Bakery. Here you’ll get your hands on some of the best sourdough bread you’ve ever tasted (you have our word).
Restaurants in Fowey
Nestled at the heart of Fowey’s Fore Street, in a duck-egg blue, renovated townhouse is the newly moved and notoriously sleek Appleton’s Bar & Restaurant. Bringing authentic Italian cooking to the harbourside town, settle down at their stylish bar and snack on sage and anchovy crispy bits or sip on elegant cocktails while you build up your appetite. For the main event, expect dishes such as home-grown mushroom and potato gnocchi, and zucchini flowers stuffed with local lobster. The menu is filled with uncomplicated, downright delicious dishes that proudly highlight the best ingredients from Italy and the south west.
A little further down the road is fashionable Fitzroy, arguably Fowey’s finest fine dining establishment. The menu here is all about sharing, so fill your table with with delicious small plates and feast on everything from velvet crab bisque to delicate choux buns. Fitzroy’s open kitchen gives you a front row seat to all the action, so you can sit back and watch the chefs at work as you sip on a glass of wine.
Over on 1 Lostwithiel Street, you’ll find Bufala. This modestly-sized restaurant makes roman-style sourdough pizzas. Using lovingly sourced, authentic ingredients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find thinner, crispier pizzas outside of Rome itself.
If you’d rather get away from the hustle and bustle of things, head to Pintxo on The Esplanade. This small but perfectly formed tapas and sherry bar is a hotspot for locals and is bringing a taste of España to the Cornish town. No reservation is necessary, just grab a seat and tuck into some seriously tasty tapas.
Things to do in Fowey and Nearby
Fowey has inspired its fair share of writers and artists. As the adopted home of Daphne du Maurier, traces of the famed thriller writer can be found all over the place. Nearby Menabilly Barton provided the inspiration for the haunting Manderley in her novel Rebecca, and numerous coastal and inland walks will allow you to walk in Du Maurier’s footsteps as you explore hidden bays, creeks and woodlands.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (the Cornish author known simply as ‘Q’) modelled his book ‘The Astonishing Story of Troy Town’ on Fowey. For a taste of Q’s Fowey, book a stay at Artists House on North Street, where the writer is rumoured to have lodged during his time spent writing about the town.
When you’ve exhausted the picturesque scenery and had your fill of the local food scene, the best thing to do is take to the water. Readymoney Cove is half a mile from the centre of Fowey, a small sandy beach sheltered by cliffs on either side. Sometimes, the beach can be submerged by spring tides, but during low tide you can take a dip in its crystal-clear waters or roll up your trousers and explore the rock pools.
On warmer days, you can paddle-board or kayak along the estuary. For novices, Fowey River Expeditions offer group river trips in canoes, so you can soak up the beautiful landscape from the water.
For adrenaline junkies, nearby Polkerris Beach is a great spot for windsurfing, with regular lessons available should you wish to learn a new skill. Frequent ferries across the water will take you to the village of Polruan, a charming collection of cottages hugging the hillside. It’s worth popping across for some excellent views of the local area from the top of Polruan Hill.
Alternatively, follow the creek a few miles north of Fowey and you’ll arrive at the riverside hamlet of Golant. This modest little community is worth the detour for its riverside pub and excellent kayaking opportunities.
This article was first published in The Maverick Guide to Cornwall Vol 1 (2019). For an updated guide to Fowey, click here.