There are two lighthouses marking the approach to the Fowey estuary. The estuary forms a natural harbour and the historic port of Fowey handles exports of China Clay.
However, Fowey was also home to local privateers with piracy and smuggling taking place. The Fowey Gallants as they were known, were allowed to seize enemy vessels during the Hundred Years’ War.
A small castle was built around 1540 at St Catherine’s Point on the western side of the harbour.
With the increase in trade to Plymouth the harbour trade declined. The fishing industry then developed, but the privateers continued to carry out smuggling.
A rail link and natural deep water anchorage at Fowey made the harbour suitable for exporting china clay. In 1869 the Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway opened. Fowey Railway Station closed in 1965 but the Lostwithiel to Fowey branch line continues to transport china clay to Carne Point.
Just off the headland marking the entrance to Fowey is Gribbin Head Daymark. The daymark was built to assist navigation to Fowey and around nearby Par bay.
The lighthouse at St Catherine’s Point is also known as Fowey Entrance Light or Fowey Light. This avoids confusion with St Catherine’s Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight.
A light was displayed in medieval times in St Catherine’s Chapel, which no longer exists. The lighthouse is located just to the west of this point and was built in 1904. The short red lantern is only 20 feet high and sector lights mark the safe channel.
Entering the harbour, St Catherine’s Point Lighthouse is the first of the lighthouses to be visible, located just to the west of Fowey Harbour, marking the Cannis Rock and eastern shores.
On the eastern side of the harbour entrance at Polruan is Punches Cross, which acts as another local navigation mark.
The second lighthouse is located at Whitehouse Point. This was also erected in 1904, using a structure that was manufactured in 1892. The rocket-shaped light also has sector lights.
Just after the picturesque Readymoney Cove, Whitehouse Point Lighthouse becomes visible. Entering the harbour at night, the white sector of Whitehouse Point guides vessels in at night until abeam of Polruan Castle.
At the pier, two fixed red lights are displayed on a pole.
St Catherine’s Point Lighthouse is accessible via a short walk from Fowey along the South West Coast Path, passing Whitehouse Point and St Catherine’s Castle. The footpath heads out to Gribbin Head.
The Fowey Harbour website has a good virtual tour of the harbour.
Fowey Lifeboat Station is located near the Town Quay, established in 1922.