Who guides the trips?
Our trips are led by qualified Fowey River Boatman who operate from our Safety Kayaks or Safety Boat. They’re all experienced kayakers who know the Estuary well, are trained First Aiders and carry medical kits, safety gear, mobile phones and VHF radios.
Where are you?
In the beautiful waterside village of Golant, two miles upstream from Fowey. From the A390 from Liskeard direction, go through Lostwithiel, and take the B3269 to Fowey. We are the left turn at the crossroads, signposted 'Golant'. From St Austell A390 follow the signs to 'Fowey' - at the Texaco garage, turn left, following signs to Bodmin, Liskeard and Lostwithiel. We are the right turn at the crossroads. See detailed map further down for village parking etc.
What kit do I need to bring with me?
- Clothes appropriate to the weather conditions - Sun hats, Hats, Gloves, Warm Clothes and Waterproofs (you’ll probably get a bit wet even if it’s not raining)
- Old trainers or crocs (feet often get wet)
- Medication/ Inhalers / Suncream
- Bring a set of spare clothes to leave in your vehicle - just in case
- A small airtight food tub to put valuables in (mobile phones, watches, ipods, Cameras, Electronic Car Keys)
- Glasses / Sunglasses must secured by a suitable strap
How fit do I need to be?
You need to have a reasonable fitness level (can comfortably walk 2 or 3 miles). Please advise us when booking of any relevant medical conditions i.e. Asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, heart conditions etc. If you have any concerns please ask.
We are passionate about this beautiful part of Cornwall, and are keen for as many people as possible to have the opportunity to experience our wonderful estuary, its wildlife and history. Many parts of the estuary can only be accessed by water, which we believe is part of its special attraction.
For those visitors who have a disability, whether visible or invisible, and who feel fit enough to paddle, we will do our very best to accommodate your needs so that you can have a wonderful time on the water. Experience has taught us that every person will have unique requirements, and so the earlier we can discuss these the better, for us to understand the needs and put in place any necessary arrangements to make the trip enjoyable. We are stocking coloured overlay sheets to help with reading information, and we are updating our Boatshed information in a larger print. A few other examples are that our ‘Creeks & Backwaters’ trip are better for those who have difficulty walking or who are in wheelchairs as we launch only a few metres from our Boatshed base – the ‘Wildlife & Waterfronts’ will need to travel along to the beach, which is possible, (you can drive almost onto the beach) but it very much depends on the paddler’s mobility. We have waterproof bags for medication, hearing aids etc; false limbs are not usually a problem as we can normally transport them if necessary. Knee & hip replacements will need consideration to choose the best type of kayak. There is a gentle slope into the Boatshed, and then it is all flat, and although we have toilets, there is also a fully equipped public disabled toilet just across the road. We are happy to accomodate pregnancies, but please discuss this with your GP before booking, so you are comfortable - if you bring a partner, they are often willing to take over the main share of paddling! If you are worried that your condition will make a trip difficult for you, or you have any other requirements or difficulties please don't hestitate to get in touch and we will do everything we possibly can to make your trip fun, comfortable and memorable!
For those who choose not to or are unable to travel by car, Par Station is approx. 2 miles away, and the no.24 bus from St Austell bus station stops at the top of the hill at Golant (called Tywardreath turn). They leave St Austell at 21mins past the hour, and Tywardreath Turn back to St Austell at 52mins past the hour. They take about 40mins and cost £2-£3. For the most up to date info, please check www.firstgroup.com/cornwall/plan-journey/timetables (put in route 24), or www.travelinesw.com .
There are also a number of local taxi services -
Coastal Cars of Fowey. Tel: +44(0)1726 832372,
Yeo's Taxis. Tel: +44(0)1726 814095,
White River Cars. Tel: +44(0)1726 810980/07968259466,
South Coast Private Hire Tel: +44(0)1726 814892.
What if I capsize?
We operate in sheltered waters and our double kayaks are very stable. We only have a handful of capsizes each year (about 1 per 500 people and involves single kayaks...). We normally operate close to the foreshore, so if you do fall out (our kayaks have open cockpits) our staff will quickly and safely get you ashore and reunite you with your kayak.
What is the minimum and maximum age?
There is no upper age limit providing you consider yourself reasonably fit and we’ve had many paddlers in their 70’s and a few in their 80’s. We take children from 3 upwards with a parent or parents. Our larger double kayaks can take an additional child seat which is suitable for 3-5 year olds. Suitable Buoyancy aids are always provided.
Can Under 16’s and Under 18’s join trips?
Under 16’s must be accompanied by an adult. Well behaved 16 and 17 year olds are able to join our trips without an accompanying adult.
What if we’re an odd number?
We normally put one of you (the most experienced or water confident) in a single kayak. However, if you are all beginners we can sometimes team you up with another singleton or member of staff if available.
Do I need to be able to swim?
Non swimmers are welcome and as you have a buoyancy aid you will be quite safe. However, we do need to know you can't swim in advance as we limit the number of non-swimmers on each trip.
What about the Weather?
We paddle in most weather conditions with the exception of heavy, persistent rain or strong winds. If we do have to cancel a trip we normally do it 24 hours in advance and send you a text to save a wasted journey. We try to move the trip to another date to suit but if this is not possible for you or us we refund any monies paid in full.
What is the Maximum Weight and Height?
Most or our kayaks are suitable for those weighing under 16 Stone and up to 6 feet tall. If you are heavier and/or taller than this let us know at the time of booking and we will reserve one of our larger kayaks or a double kayak which you can paddle on your own if available (additional charges may apply).
What type of kayaks do you use?
We use a mix of sit in and sit on double kayaks which we allocate according to weather conditions and the make-up of the group. All our single kayaks are sit ins.
Are refreshments provided on the Tours?
Our 3 hour tours include a 30 minute refreshment break where drinks and food can be purchased. Alternatively you can bring your own food along and have a picnic. Our shorter 2 hour Sundowners don’t allow time for a break – so bring along a snack. Arrive early or stay on to enjoy coffe & cakes or a cream tea at our seasonal Boatshed cafe.
Can we store our valuables: camera and phones etc. safely without getting them wet?
The tour guide has a dry bag which can hold small valuables, or we can lend you one (on a 'first come' basis)
What time should I arrive for the Tour?
Please arrive 15 minutes before the departure time or earlier if you want a pre-paddle bite and a drink at our seasonal Boatshed cafe – time and tide wait for no man! We cannot guarantee that the group will be able to wait for latecomers. Please be aware that Cornish roads are very busy during peak holidays, so allow extra time for your journey.
Dogs and their well behaved owners are very welcome in the Boatshed, where we have water bowls, towels and dog biscuits. Our own dog Jake, has personally approved a set of walking guides, so that if anyone is not kayaking they can walk in the area while they wait. We do accept dogs on our trips, and prefer if they join an upstream trip as it is quieter traffic wise, but we do ask owners to contact us prior to booking so that we can make sure that your dog will be happy and relaxed and not disturb others on the trip. We have taken out quite a range of sizes and breeds from little dogs to ones with their own seat(!), so please get in touch and we will do everything we can. If you don't want to take your dog we can sometimes arrange parking next to the Boatshed where we can keep an eye out for you, or someone to dog sit (this will be an arrangement between you and the dog sitter). We have even 'parrot-sat' on one ocassion! We have introduced poo bags and a dog poo bin outside for all canine visitors both to the Boatshed and the village, and we have two dog cages at the Boatshed that are avaiable on request.
Although the main part of our business is providing guided kayak trips, we have always felt very strongly that it is our responsibility to ‘live lightly’ i.e. not to do anything that is detrimental to our immediate location, and extending it to our area, country and also globally. If it were not for the unspoilt beauty of the Fowey Estuary, we wouldn’t have the popular business, and repeat business that we enjoy.
So, with that in mind we try to make our decisions based on causing as little impact as possible. Although our kayaks are made from plastic, they are robust and long lasting – when we feel it’s time to renew they are either sold on or sometimes repurposed into other things, such as a kayak pond, and planters at our Boatshed base. We use safety kayaks rather than a boat with an engine – the engines are noisy, and also are not always able to get where kayaks can due to the water depth.
Although we don’t own our Boatshed, we have used low energy bulbs, cold water taps with a timer: we have a tiny water heater in the kitchen that only heats a small amount of water at a time. Our fridge is not A+ rated, but that’s because we decided to reuse a neighbour’s fridge/freezer rather than it go to landfill. When it finally stops working we will buy a new A+ rated one. Within the Boatshed we only use ‘Ecover’ (or sometimes similar) products for cleaning, biodegradable clingfilm, recycled aluminium, recycled toilet paper, and our own liquid soap that is paraben free and scented with essential oils. Any take away items are presented in ‘Vegware’ products – all chosen for their biodegradable credentials. Many are composted in our garden compost bin, including most kitchen waste. We also have the majority of our teas in biodegradable bags. We decided not to use paper towels in the toilets, but fabric hand towels that can be washed and reused (with ‘Eco Eggs’, not washing powder!).
As much of our Café menu as possible is chosen to represent the locality. Our eggs/bacon/sausages come from the local farm – they also produce milk that is bought by the local dairy firm that supplies butter, cream and milk. Any other meat is from the local butchers. Bread comes from a baker two miles away in Fowey. Our house tea is from Tregothan estate in Falmouth, and the coffee is roasted and packed in Falmouth as well. All our other teas come from ‘Char’ in Winchester as their bags are biodegradable. We also sell Cornish apple juice and Cornish ice cream. Flour is not local, but it is organic from Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire, and is bought in 21kg sacks to try to minimise fuel costs!
All the landscaping in the Boatshed garden, apart from the gravel, was reused from materials left on sight. We had scaffolding planks, numerous pieces of wood, paving stones – even some aluminium sheet that we cut out in bird shapes to edge a bed. All of the furniture – indoor and out – were donated or bought second hand and repainted/covered. We have used non-toxic paint – mainly chalk paint where possible. The garden has been planted with wildlife in mind, with a compost heap, pollinating plants, fruit trees, and bird feeders.
We also encourage our visitors to recycle their waste by providing coloured bins for sorting – paper & card, and plastic & glass, plus non-recyclable rubbish. Take away and kitchen waste is composted, and we have joined two community schemes: ReFill – offering free refills of water bottles with tap water, trying to dissuade customers not to keep buying plastic bottles. Although we do sell water in bottles, we chose a local brand that supports the RNLI and we offer another donation if the bottle is returned to us for recycling. So far, we have had a 90% return rate. We are also selling branded ReFill bottles to raise money for a local environmental group. We have also joined ‘the Final Straw’ pledging not to use plastic straws – we only ever use biodegradable ones, but have learnt that these don’t always break down in colder marine environments, so we will not offer any straws. We are also offering reusable bamboo cups for sale to try to encourage visitors not to have single use takeaway cups.
We also organise two volunteer clean up every year. We have seen the interest in this event blossom from a handful of people six years ago, to last year welcoming 45 volunteers to each event, plus a waiting list. They do a fantastic job of cleaning as much of the estuary as possible of both tidal waste, and larger items caught in the trees or shoreline. We feed them with pasties, homemade cakes and teas, and it is so wonderful to see how much rubbish is collected!
We continue to research, and review what we are doing and whether we could do any better. If you do have any comments/suggestions, please talk to a member of staff, particularly Karen if you can, who would be very happy to discuss your ideas!