This walk is on the edge of the bustling, ancient, harbour town of Fowey. Stunning views, woodland, beaches and open fields make for a perfect stroll, and perhaps a picnic too. The walk also takes in some interesting historical sites, such as St Catherine’s Castle and one of Daphne du Maurier’s houses.
Readymoney Beach, grid ref SX117511
From Readymoney Beach, head past Daphne du Maurier's house on your right and up the hill away from the beach, sign-posted Polkerris via Gribbin.
The deep and sheltered waters of the Fowey have long attracted merchant ships, but the introduction of the railway in 1861 led to a large new export trade in china clay which still goes on to this day. Fowey is the largest exporting port in the South West in terms of tonnage and also one of the top 20 ports in the country for shipping non-oil products. China clay goes from here all over the world for use in paper manufacture, pharmaceuticals and, of course, china.
At the junction, turn back on yourself and keep going up the hill into Covington Woods. Follow the coast path sign marked Gribbin 2m.
Here you can make a brief detour to visit St Catherine's Castle, signposted off the path.
Defending the harbour
The Rashleigh Mausoleum on St Catherine's Point dates from 1867 and later fortifications make it an ideal defensive site, protecting Fowey harbour. During the Second World War it was the site of the Royal Artillery 384 Coast Battery, comprising gun emplacements, searchlights, Nissen huts and a small parade ground. The history of St Catherine's Point, however, stretches even further back in time. The mound on which the mausoleum sits, and the bank which surrounds it, form the likely remains of a medieval motte and bailey castle, which is supported by the fact that a chapel was recorded here in 1540.
Follow the path around to your right and take in the view over the harbour to Polruan, and back over the River Fowey.
Keep going right on the footpath, keeping the sea on your left. You should pass the shelter on your right. Take the next middle path.
At the waymarker turn left, and continue through the hunting gate into Allday's Fields.
Keep left and follow the coast. There's loads of room here to play games or have a picnic whilst taking in some pleasant views.
As you leave the field go over a stile and drop down the hill to Coombe Haven Beach. This is another perfect picnic spot and an ideal please for a dip in the sea.
From Coombe Haven, turn off the coast path and head inland toward Coombe Farm. Go up through the valley toward the woods.
At the top of the hill, go over the stone stile and head along the track sign-posted St Catherine's Point.
This walk takes you past Coombe farmhouse, once a dower house to the Rashleigh estate at Menabilly. Its 18th-century façade conceals a much earlier Elizabethan house. Behind the house you'll notice a range of barns; some old, some new. Of the latter, notice the large range of modern (1980s) wooden barns. In this sensitive spot it was thought that large gable ends would be very intrusive to the landscape, so they adopted 18th-century hipped ends, slicing the roof off at a low angle to help them disappear into the landscape.
Carry on back into Allday's Fields, this time taking the path along the top edge. Head straight across the field back toward Fowey, keeping the sea on your right. Pause to take in the views and look back to the west to the Gribbin and on to Dodman Point.
Go through the gateway and keep left. At the woods go through the metal kissing gate.
Drop down the hill keeping to the left. At the junction, turn right and follow the sign post to Fowey.
At the fork, go left back to Fowey, Readymoney Beach, and the start.
Readymoney Beach, grid ref SX117511
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