Year Round Canoe Trips & Kayak Hire on the River Fowey in Cornwall
With options suitable for everyone, our Canoe Trips page lists the types of guided kayaking trips that we've been operating on the River Fowey since 2006.
Choose between our 3 hour "Creeks & Backwaters" trip on the high tide or the "Harbours & Beaches" tour on the low tide which paddles to the harbour mouth. We can also arrange private Tailor Made trips and Group paddles.
Our Kayak Hire allows more experienced paddlers the chance to explore this unique and protected estuary from the water at your own pace.
Why Go Canoeing on the River Fowey ?
The River Fowey, its estuary and many hidden creeks and inlets, is a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Marine Conservation Zone, teeming with estuary wildlife along its varied wooded banks, marshes, mudflats and meadows.
Kayaking offers an ideal and a fun way to drift through the tranquillity and beauty that this unique area offers, along with the chance to visit some of the wonderful riverside villages on route.
The river itself is forever changing, gently ebbing and flowing twice a day with the tides. At Encounter Cornwall we offer you the chance through our guided canoe trips and canoe hire to enjoy this wonderful and peaceful habitat, gently discovering sections of the river and its wildlife that can only be accessed by water.
While River Fowey Kayaking you can spot heron and kingfishers, see mullet and trout swimming along side you, and you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of deer or a seal as you glide peacefully between the riverside villages and forested creeks.
The river itself is one of the safest and calmest in the country to paddle on. As a tidal estuary it provides a range of trips, always different and always with a sense of journey and motion as you paddle with, against and across the ever changing tidal movements of the river
We are able to reach hidden and unspoilit sections of the river only accessible to those on the water and highlights include paddles towards the sea, beaching in Fowey and Polruan with the chance to explore the shops, galleries and restaurants of this beautiful natural harbour. Other trips meander through the wooded creeks and allow you to drift through remote scenery before emerging for well earned refreshments at the riverside villages in Lerryn and the hidden inland harbour at Golant. Deep forested creeks more Canadian than Cornish merge from forest into wide open estuary, protected salt marsh and unspoilt meadows.
The journeys are full of surprise and history, abandoned shipwrecks, ghost fishing settlements, smugglers caves, even a floating bird hide and a former Kings secret tidal swimming pool. On Lerryn Creek where the walls of trees envelope you, paddling takes you through the inlets that inspired Wind in the Willows and Daphne du Mauriers Castle Dore.
Further up river, journeys run to the hamlet at St Winnow with its small farming museum and church - the river at this point referred to by one writer as "the most beautiful spot in the world". Finally, towards the upper tidal limit, kayakers meander through a series of sweeping bends as the river narrows on its way across marshland and meadow into the historic market town of Lostwithiel.
Protected from much of the outside world the river system is a unique haven for wildlife. Kingfishers, herons, wild swans and shelducks are often spotted along with flocks of curlew and migrating canadian geese. Rare colonies of egrets make their homes in the trees of the upper river sections along with one of Cornwall’s most unusual cormorant families perching 30m up in the riverside trees and from your kayak you can get a unique look at them when you paddle right underneath them.
In the trees to the sides of the river deer and foxes glance out as you drift by.... whilst in the water we will guide you to ancient poaching pools teeming with shoals of grey mullett whilst in the distance we see splashes from sea bass, salmon and sea trout. You would be lucky but from time to time we even come across otter and the occasional wayward seal or dolphin.
Click here for to see our River Fowey Canoeing Map which will give you an idea of the layout of the river estuary.
Your safety and enjoyment is the starting point for all our paddling and we ensure you will have a enjoyable, stress free and safe experience in the hands of our qualified and experienced staff.
All our staff live by the river, most in Golant itself and they are a mine of knowledge and experience on this stretch of water. On guided trips we use safety kayaks that paddle with the group providing guidance, support and the occasional tow for anyone tiring or just needing a break. We try to ensure you not only well looked after but can feel confident and relaxed about your paddling so you can concentrate on the scenery and the journey rather than worrying about falling in.
We operate our trips with the aim of keeping you out of the water and for those who may be particularly nervous our stable double kayaks are almost impossible to fall out of. If somehow you do manage to fall out (which is not easy !) our canoes are completely open so no-one can get stuck - and as everyone wears a buoyancy aid you will float and be attended to quickly by one of our team. Every year we take around 2000 people on the river and only have around 4 or 5 paddlers actually fall in (usually teenagers showing off!).
For younger children we have a range of buoyancy aids with straps that fit under legs meaning these can never come off and our double kayaks work perfectly with dad or mum in the back and a little one in front.
Our canoeing operation is licensed by the local authority through Fowey Harbour Commission who are required to make an annual inspection of our equipment and practices. All our staff are professionally qualified holding the appropriate boatman's licenses and BCU certificates to cover their safety boat duties and again all are required to be reassessed and relicensed on an annual basis by the Commission. We welcome any questions about how we operate or safety in general –just contact us.
Our Perception canoes are specially selected to give the safest and simplest access to this environment and we mostly use double (two person) kayaks on our trips and for our hire.
We use two types of double kayaks - sit on top and sit in and both are exceptionally stable and easy to paddle. The sit on top kayaks in particular suit those who feel more comfortable and free on top of the boat rather than sitting in it. Where we have enough space on the trip they can be paddled solo from the back for those that want to have their own boat. Our sit in kayaks work best for larger paddlers and anyone with back problems as they have the largest seats. These adjustable seats on double sit in kayaks also allow parents and younger children into the same open canoe to enjoy the river with complete safety and control. We also have larger Perception Vista doubles with an optional 3rd seat for small children.
Single Kayaks for experienced paddles
We also have a range of sit in single kayaks which are reserved for those with some kayaking experience because they are slightly less stable than double kayaks. Children will only be allowed to use single kayaks where they are 13 years or older and have had previous experience of paddling single kayaks or have the relevant British Canoe Union qualifications. There is a £5 surcharge for anyone wanting single kayaks and they need to be booked in advance.
Paddles, Bouyancy Aids and what to wear
We provide everyone with a paddle and a suitable buoyancy aid and will provide you with instructions on booking about what to bring and wear but normal clothes and your own waterproofs are fine. We have a small stock of spare waterproofs if you're without - and our safety kayaks carry some spare items.