*Updated - 29 October, 2009

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Updated - 29 October, 2009
Welcome to the ancient fishing village of Polruan, famous for its boat building heritage. The Fowey river estuary is a thriving centre for fishing, seafaring, shipbuilding and agriculture. Polruan is part of the parish of Lanteglos-by-Fowey which is bounded by water on three sides - Penpoll Creek to the north, the Fowey River to the west and the sea to the south. The natural defences of sea and river, made the area an attractive dwelling place for the earliest inhabitants. This remoteness gives the area its unspoilt charm with its narrow streets and narrower alleyways where flights of slate steps twist between the houses.  

Polruan is based on the south coast of Cornwall on the river Fowey.  If you are looking at a map you will find this wonderful village opposite Fowey.  It is a small village with only one road in or out.  The road goes through the middle of the village and ends up on the village quay, where you will find the Lugger Inn,p26.jpg which like most houses in the village has its own interesting history.  There are, however, two pubs in the village, the second being the Russell Inn, which is literally just up the steps from the Lugger Inn.  Both pubs offer an excellent range of food at very reasonable prices.  From the quay you will find a passenger ferry that will take you across to Fowey.  The journey taking about 5 - 10 minutes.    At the top of the village itself there is a camp site should you feel hardy, but they have mobile homes available to rent.  
The beauty of either visiting or coming to stay in Polruan is that it is unspoilt.  Being built on the side of a hill it has, thankfully not allowed too much expansion and commercialisation and as a result has retained much of its charm.  In the main street itself (Fore Street - as you will find in most Cornish villages) you will find the Polruan Stores and the Harbour Cafe, on the Quay is The WinklePicker Shop (which is also the Post Office) .  
Polruan has something to offer everybody.  August bank holiday is a must if you enjoy a carnival.  Fowey starts the festivities off with their carnival usually a week before bank holiday, with activities every night ending with the candle lit processesion down the river which is followed by a firework display.  This has to be seen to be believed.  The following week Polruan has its carnival with a band and fancy dress for all ages.  On the quay itself you will find a wide variety of stalls with lots of goodies to purchase.  One stall will allow you to buy a ball for the ball rolling competition.  They have over a thousand numbered balls that they roll down the main street, which is a rather steep hill.  What you do, is to pay to put your name against a particular number ball, and if that ball is the first to reach the bottom of the hill then the prize is yours.  The carnival procession starts on the quay and goes to the school field at the top of the village and then parades all the way round the village, collecting money for charity on the way.

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POLRUAN and district

A very old fishing village and where most of the fishing boat building took place (and today there is still an active boat yard, building and repairing boats of all types). It is said that St Ruan was the first to occupy the top of Polruan Hill, which is where St Saviours ruin stands today. Polruan is very steep and well protected from the prevailing winds and Polruan Pool is a haven for small boats. Polruan is part of the parish of Lanteglos-by-Fowey and many of the residents are artists and writers who are attracted to the quiet nature of the village. The Polruan Ferry crosses the river to Fowey every 15 minutes every day of the year and is still the best way in and out of the village, as the alternative is either a drive to the Bodinnic Ferry or via Lostwithiel, a 40 minute journey.

Blockhouse
This blockhouse is comparatively well preserved due to the efforts of various enthusiastic councillors and conservationists on the Polruan side of the river. There were two (the Fowey side being ruined beyond hope) which were built end of the 14th century to protect the harbour from pirates and the French. A chain was pulled up across the river between the two blockhouses to stop vessels entering the harbour and conversely, to stop them leaving if they had the temerity to "cross the line".


This predates Henry’s defences by almost one hundred years. In 1457 the French launched a raid against Fowey Harbour, and as a result a boom defence was added. There were two towers, one at Fowey, and this one at Polruan, and it was between these that the chain was stretched. The towers mounted small calibre guns, and were designed so that the staircase to the battlements was separate from that between the ground and first floor.
Polruan was once a major shipbuilding port; in the 19th century it launched over 6,000 tons of shipping. The blockhouse on the shore to the right was the castle from where a chain was stretched across the river for protection in times of war. Not that it always worked - in 1457 a Breton fleet broke through and sacked Fowey.

St Saviours Ruin
Standing high on the hill overlooking Polruan, St Saviours chapel was built long before any of the surrounding churches and dates from the 8th century. The remaining buttress indicates that the chapel was solidly built and was a prominent landmark for ships. It would have been a good lookout point for checking on approaching enemy vessels and the first monks would have been effective coastguards providing a warning by ringing the chapel's bells. St Saviours was enlarged by Sir Richard Edgcumbe in 1488.

Punche's Cross (or Paunches. Pontius. Ponts. or the French Ponce' Cross)
Lying at the eastern tip of the Fowey River below the cliffs to the south-west of St Saviours Point, this cross is said to be associated with Pontious Pilate as well as Jesus' uncle, Joseph of Arimethea, who it is said passed this way with the young Jesus to inspect his tin mines. It is marked on very early charts and if the cross was damaged by storms, it was reinstated by monks from Tywardreath. It is today under the responsibility of the Fowey Harbour Commissioners. The true origin of the name is unknown but it may be a corruption of Pontius. Whatever its real history, it is an important warning, as when the tide is high, only the top of the cross is visible, indicating that there are some very dangerous rocks below!

Brazen Island
Originally an isolated rock (hence the name) which is now incorporated into the main building, which was a sardine factory in 1883 but liquidated shortly after in 1887 (presumably through the lack of sardines). The Freehold of the factory was purchased by the Fowey Harbour Commissioners in 1926. The transition from sail to steam and later, diesel engines, created the need for an engineering works and from this time, the present complex, slipway and works was gradually built. The Lantic Bay Dredger was built here in 1953 and is still working full time.

Ferryside
This is the du Mauriers ' family home bought in 1927 and where Daphne du Maurier wrote her first book 'The Loving .Spirit in l928/9, (published in 1931). It is also where she met her future husband Boy Browning whom she married in 1932 and who was then a Major in the Grenadier Guards and later became Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning. Daphne du Maurier was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1969. The house has, until recently, been lived in by Angela du Maurier and is now occupied by Daphne du Maurier's son and his family. It was a boat-builders yard and had water running right through what is now an impressive sitting room, with magnificent views across the harbour out to the sea. The back wall of the house is the rock cliff face and has been incorporated marvellously into the house.

Bodinnick
A unique and pleasant way to enter or leave Fowey, is to take the Bodinnick vehicle ferry and cross the river. Bodinnick is on the east side of the river, and, a short steep climb up through the village beyond 'The Ferry Inn', on the right-hand side, can be found the start of the Hall Walk, which takes you over Pont Creek and ends in Polruan, where a passenger ferry returns you to Fowey. Along this pathway will be found the 'Q' memorial and at Pont, the old wharf is still there and is part of a delightful cottage which is now a National Trust property which can be rented for holidays.

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Hall Walk: Polruan to Bodinnick

Tracey Tucker sets out to retrace Daphne du Maurier's footsteps through a historic part of Cornwall on the Hall Walk from Polruan to Bodinnick.

Polruan, in Cornwall, is imbued with a lingering, romantic atmosphere, for the history round these waters is truly ancient and whispers as you pass by.

One of the most interesting walks in this area is the Hall Walk, a three-mile excursion for which, if you are to enjoy it to the full, you should set aside a day.

The original walk was designed as the promenade for Hall Manor, which was built just above Bodinnick for an influential Cornish family in the 13th century. It is probable that the walk would then have included only the stretch of land round Penleath Point, but it was extended in later years to its present length.

1. Start off at Polruan, where the seagulls create a cacophony of cries. From the blockhouse - a dramatic starting-point - walk along West Street, across Fore Street and up East Street. You can only walk so far along East Street, before coming to a gate, beyond which you cannot go. Turn right here and you will see a sign that reads - in the manner of all good adventure stories - 'To the hills'.

2. Follow the steps up, past a big, pink house, until turning left onto a woodland path. Soon, there are fine views, over shingled roofs and seagull nests, out across the harbour and its swaying, clinking boats. It is no wonder that Mabel Lucie Attwell, doyenne of the English postcard, painted fairies and elves for children's books here.

3. If you keep to the main track you will eventually come to a small, clear brook, full of coppery stones. As you leave the woodland, you will see the estuary, Pont Pill, to your left. This is most definitely a place to stop and contemplate the wildlife. With the roots of trees clawing at the mud in the basin, you could almost be in Africa or some far-off swamp land.

4. Follow the signs and the main track to Pont, where you will be taken in by the beauty of the tiny harbour. A number of writers lived and wrote at Pont Creek - Kenneth Grahame for one was inspired by its unique peace.

5. Cross the Pont footbridge and walk to the edge of the woods, veer to your right to find the path again and then take a sharp left to walk on the other side of the creek. Follow the woodland path until you come to a gate and a field.

6. Walk along the bottom of the field and you will soon discover breathtaking vistas. You are approaching Penleath Point, which is marked by the 'Q' memorial, in memory of the writer Sir Arthur QuillerCouch - otherwise known as 'Q'.

7. As you look across the water from here, towards Fowey, there is a fine view of Place, a turreted building which towers like some fantastical castle above the town. Continue along the path, past the war memorial to your left and down towards a tinygateway.

8. This is the entrance to Bodinnick. The village has hardly changed since it was first visited by Daphne du Maurier. The house by the water at the bottom of the hill was her first Cornish home - the Swiss Cottage, which she renamed Ferryside.

9. Take the passenger ferry to return to Polruan.

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Some pictures added

Lantic Bay   (near Polruan)

The Dredger 'Lantic Bay' built at Polruan

The Quay as it used to be

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 Updated - 29 October, 2009