Focus on Fowey: Waterside town with bags of star appeal
When TV's Dawn French moved to Cornwall, she chose to settle in the waterside town of Fowey in South East Cornwall. Few locals (or tourists) would blame her, for this delightful waterside town has, they say, just about everything.
Fowey (pronounced Foy) stretches along one side of the mouth of the River Fowey. The main waterside street, The Esplanade, offers large Victorian and Edwardian homes with water frontage and six-figure price tags.
Elsewhere in the town, if you are prepared to sacrifice the joy of water at the edge of your garden and a river view, you can buy a family home here for well under £300,000.
This pretty town was a thriving port for hundreds of years and still has a fishing fleet, sailmakers and chandlery, as well as a yacht club (for larger vessels) a sailing club (for kids and dinghies) and a thriving gig club. Fowey Royal Regatta was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and is a week of waterborne fun every August, with everything from serious yachstmanship to fun raft races.
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Be warned, though, the waiting list for moorings near the town can be as long as 20 years. If your vessel can cope with shallower water, you'll have more luck upriver, mooring near the villages of Golant and Lerryn.
Dawn French is not the only star here, either. TV's Richard and Judy have a house in nearby Talland Bay and are often to be seen walking the quaint narrow streets. Bands such as Oasis, The Verve, Supergrass and Muse have all recorded at Sawmills Studios, upriver at Golant.
Unsurprisingly, second homes are an issue here. With a two-bed waterside cottage selling recently for £640,000, it is hard for locals to afford the old town. However, there are plenty of folk living here full-time, albeit mostly in the newer housing stock away from the water's edge. This means that Fowey is vibrant enough to sustain a year-round community feel, with lively pubs, restaurants and shops.
Fowey also has a rich literary past, with author Daphne du Maurier living here until her death in 1989 and setting her classic novel Rebecca nearby. Du Maurier remains the inspiration for the town's annual literary and arts festival every May.
Nowadays, the town supports a large church, doctor's surgery, primary and secondary schools and everything from a cricket club to crown green bowling.
Legend has it that Jesus himself visited Fowey as a child, in the company of merchants from the Middle East. Be that as it may, there are many who would argue that Fowey is, most definitely, a heavenly place.