Helston and the Helford River, Cornwall
The Helford River. One of the loveliest and most
unspoilt rivers in Cornwall if not England.
Deep sheltered valleys covered in ancient oak wWoodland, lead down to hidden creeks, centuries old villages, and Cornwall gardens, such as Trebah and Glendurgan both on the north shore of the Helford, in South West Cornwall full of sub-tropical plants, tree ferns originally from New Zealand, rhododendrons and azaleas.
Beautiful villages like Durgan, largely owned and preserved for the nation by the National Trust
difficult to reach by car, or the more well known Helford Passage,
with its famous Ferryboat Inn,
both so beautiful in different ways. Churches such as Mawgan,
with its immaculately kept churchyard, overlooking the mouth of the River.
The exclusive properties of Porth Navas, many with a yacht moored alongside. Since Roman times there has been a Oyster Fishery in the Lower Reaches of the Helford. The granite walled Oyster Quay offers good views up Porth Navas Creek, and may offer the chance to buy either a gallon of mussels or a dozen fresh Helford Cornish Oysters
At the Head of the timeless Helford River is Gweek, still an important boat building and repair centre, and the Gweek Seal Sanctuary, where injured Atlantic grey seals are nursed back to health before being released to the freedom of the Ocean. (Photo of healthy grey seal was taken in St Ives Harbour.)
In the traditional boatyard in Gweek, Working Sail are bringing the past back to life by building large wooden sailing vessels using only traditional materials and methods of construction. Based on the lines of the Pilot Cutters that plied their trade from Cornish ports during the nineteenth century, Working Sail are building new wooden sailing vessels for today's sailor with a history steeped in Cornwall's maritime past.
The lanes along the south shore of the Helford River, like those along the north, are narrow with high hedges, roads with blind bends, and sudden gradients, with glimpses down into the Helford's many side creeks. The most romantic of these is Frenchman's Creek, made famous by author Daphne Du Maurier, best seen in the still light of a early morning spring tide. But so difficult to photograph unless in a boat.
Oakwoods line the valleys sided right down to the waters edge.
A permissive path runs through National Trust Woodland along the east bank of the Creek,
around to Pengwedhen Woods, hence to Helford Point with yet more superb Cornish views.
Continue walking around to the Shipwrights Arms and Helford Village, a nice place for a refreshment stop.
Hidden in yet another side creek is Helford Village, white washed stone cottages cling to the side of the hills, many with their own mooring quays, or boathouse alongside. A popular destination for many visitors to Cornwall. If visiting by car take a tip from us and use the nearby car park.
Around the Headland is St Anthony with its boatyard and ancient church. A very evocative place if seen during a late afternoon high tide with a flat sea, as can hopefully be seen in the accompanying photographs. Continue around to Gillan and the Coast of Cornwall. Where yet more great walks can be had along the Coastal Footpath.
Porthallow once a pilchard village, the old cellars can be seen on the right hand side of the large shingle beach. On a clear day Pendennis Castle can be seen in the far distance. Boats are still hauled up the beach using a wire winch so take care.
Inland a few miles from the Coast is St Keverne. in whose churchyard is a 32 pound caronnade recovered from the wreck of HMS Primrose lost on the infamous Manacles Reef on the 22nd January 1809. Within the church is a memorial window to all 106 lives tragically lost when the SS Mohegan, a 7000 tonne liner was dashed on the same reef some 81 years later in the summer of 1898. Also within the churchyard, marked by a cross is the mass grave of many of the victims.
Follow the Coastal Footpath around the Lizard Peninsula, past unspoilt villages such as Cadgwith, stopping off at the Lighthouse, the most Southerly point in mainland Britain
Why not Order your King Harry's Cornwall Tourist brochure here?
One of the Cornish stannary towns,
where for centuries tin was brought to be assayed and then stamped.
The sample cut off the ingot was known as a coign.
Indeed, the towns' curving main thoroughfare is called Coinagehall Street.
With the mining boom of the eighteenth century Helston became very wealthy.
Fine Georgian Town Houses bear witness to this affluence.
Helston is also home to the Furry Dance. Dating from pagan times, held to celebrate arrival of spring and the passing of winter. It is one of the oldest surviving Customs in Great Britain. Pictures of the Furry Dance | More May Day Celebrations
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Page updated 2012