Ocean going ships load china clay mingle with scores of small craft and the occasional cruise liner in the sheltered waters have made Fowey a busy port since the Middle Ages. Its daring sailors, known as ‘Fowey Gallants’, featured in many medieval campaigns and were at the siege of Calais in 1346. They also built up a reputation as fearless smugglers and pirates who harried shipping in the English Channel. The little town’s narrow streets run steeply down to quays from which ships of up to 15,000 tons can be seen heading for wharves where clay is loaded, upstream from the ferry to Bodinnick.
Readymoney Cove, south west of the town centre, has a small, sandy beach formed by cliffs. A wooded path leads to the ruins of St Catherine’s Castle, a fortress built by order of Henry VIII to supplement blockhouses which date from the end of 14th century. The two blockhouses stood on each side of the harbour mouth, and a chain stretched between them to seal off the harbour. Grooves worn in the rocks by the chain can still be seen.
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