► Starting point: Caffa Mill car park, Fowey
► Distance: Four miles
► Time: Two and a half hours
► Facilities: Caffa Mill car park
► Click here for a map of this walk
It is a cold, rather muddy day as we set off from Caffa Mill cark park, on the edge of Fowey, for our four-mile excursion. Having gone to school in Fowey, I know this area well, and in all weathers. My friends and I had to spend many a wintery afternoon breathlessly making our way around the local area on cross-country runs.
We also spent a good deal of time exploring the river by boat, or swimming, walking or cycling around it. All these years on, I can honestly say that this is a place I will never grow tired of. Even on the dullest day, the Fowey river retains its sense of enchantment for me, and there are few better ways to enjoy the sheer majesty of the estuary than on this footpath, which takes you via the Bodinnick ferry, along the eastern banks of the harbour to Polruan, and back by foot ferry to the town of Fowey.
Established by the local Mohun family of nearby Hall, the Hall Walk dates back to the 16th century and takes you high over the river to look down over the small town. Caffa Mill car park is a good place to start, with facilities, and easy access from the road at the Four Lanes roundabout outside the town which avoids a steep climb up and down from the main town car park.
As you cross the river to Bodinnick, the most notable landmark is Ferryside, the large house to the right of the slipway which was once the much-loved family home of Daphne du Maurier.
Bodinnick itself has a fascinating history, once the site of shipbuilding and a jail house. Continuing up the steep hill past the Old Ferry Inn, you soon come to a path marked Hall walk to your right as you climb the hill. This part of the walk is the promenade which was created by the Mohun family. The site is famed as, at the height of the Civil War in 1644, Charles I was nearly shot here, as Royalist troops marched to meet the Roundheads along what was the main route along the south coast to the Tamar ferry. The King escaped, but a fisherman was killed in his place.
From here the footpath takes you up along the estuary to the Q memorial. This monument is dedicated to famed writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, friend of Kenneth Graham and whose daughter Foy was a good friend of Daphne du Maurier.
This is a lovely spot to pause and take in the beautiful sweeping views down over Fowey and out to the sea beyond. From here, the path takes you through woodland along the northern bank of Pont Pill, a tidal river which joins the River Fowey at this point. At the end of the woods, you pass through a kissing gate, along the right hand edge of a field before taking the right hand gate back into the woods.
From here the path takes you down towards Pont, the path turning sharp right, so that you continue down to the small group of waterside cottages on this tranquil spot at the edge of the river, which today are National Trust holiday lets.
Crossing St Willow’s wooden bridge over the river, with the cottages to your right, continue along the path and follow the signs to the right towards Polruan. The path takes you back uphill, through a series of fields which once again offer those beautiful views over the river.
When you reach woodland there is a gate, at which point you take the lower path back into Polruan, where you can catch the foot ferry back across to the Whitehouse Quay beneath the Esplanade in Fowey, or the main town quay in winter.
From here, it is a pleasant stroll through the town, perhaps stopping off in one of the many eateries and pubs in the town, as you make your way north along Fore Street which edges the river, back to Caffa Mill car park.