Ken Endean meanders upriver for some proper Cornish hospitality and stunning countryside
Fowey is one of the best-loved cruising destinations on England’s south coast but most visiting yachts stay on the deep-water moorings off the town and only a few venture upstream of Wiseman’s Pool, because the river shoals abruptly to drying banks.
Even so, there are viable anchorages for boats that can take the ground, or for a short stay over high water, and one of these is ideal if you would like to eat a pub meal while admiring your boat against a backdrop of classic Westcountry scenery.
Between Wiseman’s Pool and the junction with the River Lerryn the bed of the estuary consists of firm sand and gravel for much of its width, with muddy stretches along each shore.
The area of sand and gravel is fairly level with one or two shallow, low-tide channels meandering across it.
For a visiting boat, a short ‘survey’ with the echo sounder should enable the skipper to anchor her over a flat patch and most twin-keelers will sit down comfortably; likewise lift-keel yachts such as Southerlies.
The easiest place to anchor is north of Golant, near the hamlet of Cliff, where there is plenty of space free of permanent moorings.
This also makes a good starting point for a high-water expedition by tender to the Ship Inn at Lerryn.
A longer voyage to Lostwithiel is feasible but may need good timing, as neap tides only just reach the town. (UKHO and Imray charts show that the chart datum ‘steps up’ to follow the river bed; at Lostwithiel it is 3.8m higher than at Fowey and the tide rises only 0.3m at MHWN).
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On our last cruise, Mary and I anchored off Golant, where the rail line that runs down the valley cuts across the village creek, creating a high-tide lagoon known as the Pill.
A short distance downstream there is a slipway on the estuary side of the tracks by a level crossing.
At high water, we were able to row under the low rail bridge into the Pill, and beach our dinghy directly in front of the Fishermans Arms, which was most convenient for supper on the terrace.
There are many moorings off the village and, although we anchored London Apprentice in a gap, it would have been risky to dry out there.
On the ebb, all boats lie downstream of their moorings, but on the flood, the smaller local craft would have lifted first and might then have swung into us while we were still aground.
For a stay over low tide it’s best to anchor clear of the moorings or, particularly if you have a fin-keeled yacht, the obvious alternative is to enjoy your meal and then drop downstream to Wiseman’s Pool, where the Harbour Authority has a couple of buoys for visitors.
On the south coast of Cornwall, neap tides are high around midday and good for an up-river lunch, whereas springs are ‘morning and evening’ and better for dinner.