The Helford River and it’s surrounds is one of the most beautiful regions of the county but remains one of the least visited. These slow moving waterways, sunken lanes and quiet creekside villages are hard to reach by car. For me by far the best way is to cross the river by passenger ferry from the Helford Passage and explore on foot.
The last walk I did in the area took me from Helford village to the famous Frenchman’s Creek. This time I headed in the opposite direction.
This peaceful walk winds its way thought the thick woodland that hugs the side of the river. The path takes you past sandy beaches, such as Penarvon and Bosahan Cove, with views across the river to Durgan and Mawnan. It skirts along the edges of the Bosahan Estate towards the finger of land called Dennis Head.
Bosahan is still a private estate but the beautiful gardens which are full of tropical plants can be visited during the spring/summer months. You will also pass the old disused kennals for the estate’s hounds along the way and several signs reminding you not to stray from the path.
All along this walk there are wonderful views through the natural windows in the trees. These viewpoints create beautiful pictures the river, its traffic and the landscape around it.
Once you reach the headland you will see the wide sweep of Falmouth Bay, Nare Point and every twist and turn of the coast from Toll Point to Swanpool and Maenporth beaches. It is hardly surprising then that this limb of land has been used as a place of safety and defence for at least 2000 years. The name ‘Dennis’ comes from the Cornish ‘Dinas’ meaning fort. Beneath the high bracken and ferns there are the remains of Iron Age embankments which enclosed the neck of the promontory. And during the 1640s it was used as a civil war stronghold.
These days Dennis Head makes a perfect point to stop for a breather or to open up your picnic!
From here you can either retrace your steps to Helford village and head to either the Shipwrights Arms or the Ferry Boat Inn across the water. Alternatively you can head back along the arm of Gillian Creek passing the delightful St Anthony in Meneage. This ancient village has a beautiful church, said to have been built by a band of shipwrecked Normans in the 12th century, and a peaceful pace of life.
There is a set of stepping stones here that allow you to cross Gillian Creek to Flushing at low tide, but go steady! They are very slippery! The walk along this creek is more peaceful than the Helford, there are few boats and more birds than people.
An old white signposts directs you back towards Manaccan but don’t miss the little footpath a little further on on the right that crosses a small stream and heads up the hill towards the village.
The walk is roughly 5 miles if you follow the loop back through Manaccan and it is fairly easy to navigate, just a case of following the path and footpaths signs. But it is quite up and down in places and the path is rough and there are several stiles to cross, so bear that in mind before you set out. There aren’t really any shops either until you reach Manaccan or when you arrive back in Helford village so take all you need with you.
Click HERE for a more detailed guide to this walk.
The ferry from the Helford Passage operates from 1st April until 31st October on demand between 9.30am and 5pm. Adult return £6 Children £2 (dogs and bicycles welcome!) During the summer it will run later – until around 9pm but always check with Steve the ferryman. On the Helford side there is a large yellow circle which you open to summon the ferry.
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