GUIDE TO THE FOWEY RIVER
(Golitha Falls Carpark to Treverbyn Mill)
NAME OF RIVER: Fowey
WHERE IS IT?: It drains the east side of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall.
Here is a map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The put-in is the Golitha Falls carpark at GR 228699. The river upstream meanders across moorland and is frequently overgrown.
This section finishes at GR 206675 where there are two bridges close together, called Treverbyn Mill.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Two hours.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The Fowey looks like an improbably small stream at the put-in bridge. Don't be put off...within a few hundred metres it is a sizeable whitewater river well worth attention in high water conditions. You will need at least enough water to float at the put-in, but I suspect the more the better. Save this for a very rainy day.
Disclaimer...I did not paddle this (too low) but walked the whole length and inspected at river level.
GRADING: Grade 4 easing to grade 2 along it's length.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees are a pain in the first few hundred metres.
Sadly trees on the river seem to have been the cause of a tragic paddling fatality in early 2012.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Fowey is a bit unpromising at the start. The first few hundred metres involve ducking tree branches on what is essentially flat water. Persist, however. After the river bends right and the tourist path ends, the trees clear and the river enters an excellent section of rapids and falls.
First comes a long grade 3+ rapid where the river narrows into a flume.
Next are two successive grade 4 drops. These will need inspection on river left and may well merge into a single grade 5 rapid in very high water. The river loses a surprising amount of height on this section, called Golitha Falls.
A third longer grade 4 rapid is the end of the harder difficulties, but the river continues with a noticeable gradient and continuous grade 3 rapids until a stream enters on river right.
From here to the takeout the river is grade 2. Two footbridges marked on the OS Landranger map do not exist, having been swept away in floods. One has been replaced by an unlikely looking slippery log, and the second can be seen smeared along the river left bank.
The last hazard is a small weir just before the takeout.
Video of the Fowey...from Simon Medlyn, shows low water.
OTHER NOTES: If you aren't convinced on arrival, walk the path downstream from the carpark on river right and take a look at Golitha Falls...these start just after the good path ends.
Anybody continued downstream? Simon Westgarth tells me there is pleasant 'cruising' if you carry on. Consider this section.
The tidal section is pleasant.
Simon Medlyn, Feb 2006...'Golitha falls to Treverbyn mill. This is a very rarely paddled section and loses quite a lot of height in the first half. It is a cracking paddle.
We paddled this after a couple of days of rain but the river levels seem to drop quite quickly. I checked the river the evening before and it had dropped about 1ft by morning. From the bridge the river looks like a stream and a waste of a drive but do not be fooled. Down stream the river turns to a steep grade 4 run with some large drops and shoots.
To get on the river it is worth walking down stream 100 metres until you come across an island with big tree branches spreading across the river, get on down stream of the island. You dont have much of a warm up before you arrive at the top of a grade 3 rapid, the river narrows into a flume running from river right to left. After this there are a couple of small drops with a couple of powerful holes waiting to catch you out. Now things start to hot up a bit and the river starts to lose a lot of height, this section is called the Golitha Falls. There are a couple of grade 4 drops that will need inspection on river right which is easy for safety cover. The main section of the falls follows a steep flume on river right. At time of paddling there was a large tree down over the river leaving only a 2 ft gap to fit through. The river continues to drop with a three meter ledge drop and a shallow landing.
The river starts to flatten out a bit and some easy grade 3 rapids keep you entertained. Be careful though there are trees across the river that can catch you out. A weir is the last major hazard but it can be tackled down the middle shoot with ease. About 150 yards from the weir there is a massive tree which is a portage in high and low water due to the size of it, portage river left. From here you can see Treverbyn Mill bridges which is your get out point.
Not sure what the access situation is but as this is rarely paddled I dont think anyone has been confronted. We had a hassle free day, apart from a few trees. Took us about 2 and half hours including inspecting the main falls. The rest of the river is pretty much readable from your boat.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Simon Medlyn.