The harbour is a China clay port, exporting tonnes in the last 30 years - 1.8million tonnes in 1989! Today, it averages around 750,000 tonnes of clay annually. This has made Fowey Harbour one of the largest exporting ports in the United Kingdom, with over 40% of cargoes in the South West passing through Fowey. Large ships can carry 13,000 tonnes of clay, and it is an impressive sight to see as they make their way through the deep water harbour.
In more recent years, Fowey Harbour has diversified the business it sees, becoming a favourite stop for cruise liners, as the area offers a scenic view for passengers along with some top Cornish attractions. The longest ship that has been hosted in the harbour was in 2007 and measured 205 metres in length. Today, the harbour sees over 7000 leisure boats visit just through the summer!
Royal Regatta Week
One of the biggest events Fowey Harbour sees is Regatta Week, which takes place annually in the third week of August. The town sees hundreds of visitors coming to compete or soak up the atmosphere. The Regatta has a long history and has attracted the likes of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.
The Royal Regatta is one of the best in the country and a great family event. There are events every day of the week from firework displays, carnival processions, live music, gig racing and lots of great food. The RAF Red Arrows often make an appearance on one day of the week, putting on a spectacular aerial display.
It is not just the industry side of Fowey Harbour that draws people, as there are plenty of leisure activities to try on the water. Sailing and yachting are the most popular, and you can hire boats to go cruising in the waters of St Austell Bay in spring and summer. There are two sailing clubs, the Royal Fowey Yacht Club and Fowey Gallants Sailing Club.
If you want to travel up the river to see the sights, rowing, canoeing or kayaking is the best option. You can hire boats on your own, or with an experienced guide to accompany you. There are several operators in Fowey - ask at the tourist information centre, which offers hourly, daily or even weekly hires. In the summer, you might want to try stand-up paddle boarding.
For those who don't fancy testing their sea legs, one of the best ways to see the harbour is on a walk. You can enjoy a gentle stroll along the esplanade or opt for the longer Hall Walk; the circular walk around the harbour takes in Fowey, Polruan, Pont and Bodinnick and is very popular with visitors who want to explore as much of the area as they can! You may want to go further afield and walk along the coast towards Lantic Bay or Gribbin Head or head inland for a leisurely river walk.
The deep waters of Fowey Harbour have attracted a lot of marine wildlife over the years, and if you head out sailing or on a coastal walk, you might be lucky to spot dolphins, porpoise, basking sharks and whales! If you do see any on a visit to Fowey Harbour, be sure to let the Fowey Harbour Office know (firstname.lastname@example.org) or report sightings to the Environmental Records Centre (www.orks.org.uk).
There are also seabirds around Fowey Harbour to spot along with the marine wildlife, and many of the cliffs and rocky coastal areas along the coastline are popular for birdwatchers.
Book your visit to Fowey now on 01726 833426, and take a look at some of our other blog posts about what you can do in the area:
Visit Cornwall gardens this spring
Outstanding natural beauty on Cornwall's coast
Image credit: Tony Atkin