A Helford Estuary circuit

A circuit of some of the peaceful tidal creeks of the Helford Estuary.

NEAREST LOCATION

Helford

RECOMMENDED BY
DISTANCE

5 miles (8kms)

ASCENT
328ft (100m)
TIME
3hrs
GRADIENT
DIFFICULTY
Easy
STARTING POINT
SW759261

About the walk

The Helford River is enduringly popular with land-based visitors and leisure sailors alike, yet the area manages somehow to absorb it all. Cars probe tentatively between the unforgiving stone hedges of narrow Cornish lanes. The bulk of river craft are yachts, so that on a busy sailing day you will hear only the pleasing flap of sails blowing through. The trees that line the estuary and its subsidiary creeks play a great part in muffling the human racket.

Secret history

The picturesque, leisure-dominated Helford of today was once a bustling haven for all sorts of trade, and was a haven for pirates and smugglers. During Elizabethan times especially, a posse of Cornish rascals, from the highest in the land to the lowest, were engaged in plundering the cargoes of vessels that sailed through the Channel approaches. The Helford, as it is popularly known, was a secretive, useful base from which all manner of goods could be spirited away inland. In later times the river became an equally secretive base for missions against German-occupied France during World War II. There is little physical evidence of any of this busy past, but in the shrouded creeks that run off like fibrous roots from the main river it is easy to imagine the utter remoteness of life hundreds of years ago, when movement by sea was far more convenient than by land.

This walk starts from the village of Helford and follows the southern shore of the estuary between Treath and Dennis Head, mainly through the deep woodland of the Bosahan estate. The return leg follows the north shore of the adjacent Gillan Creek, far smaller and thus far less accommodating to vessels than the deep Helford. Here the tiny Church of St Anthony adds to the overall serenity. From near the head of the creek, you climb inland to Manaccan, a charming village that seems to tumble down the slopes of the valley. Beyond the village the route leads into the wooded valley above Helford and takes you back to your starting point through chequered shade.

Walk directions

At the car park, opposite the entrance to the café, turn left along a path signposted ‘Coast Path’. Go through a metal gate and then follow a sunken track. Descend some steps, then soon turn right along a lane. When you come to a steep right-hand bend, bear off ahead along a track. Follow this permissive path along through trees, passing some fine little beaches along the way.

At the car park, opposite the entrance to the café, turn left along a path signposted ‘Coast Path’. Go through a metal gate and then follow a sunken track. Descend some steps, then soon turn right along a lane. When you come to a steep right-hand bend, bear off ahead along a track. Follow this permissive path along through trees, passing some fine little beaches along the way.

Turn sharply right at the start of the wide track and follow the left-hand field-edge, then go right along a waymarked path across the open field. Go through a gate to join a track behind a house and reach a road. Turn left and descend to St Anthony’s Church. Follow the road alongside Gillan Creek.

Just past where the road curves round a bay, look carefully for a public footpath and go up right and through a gate. Follow a track through trees to houses at Roscaddon. Keep ahead along a track, then lane, to reach a T-junction with a road. Cross over and enter the churchyard of St Manacca.

Go through the churchyard and then the gate opposite to a road. Keep ahead to a junction (the New Inn is down to the left) then go up right, past the school. Keep uphill, then turn left along Minster Meadow, go along a path to the left of Kensa Kew, and through a field, used as a public car park, to a road.

Go diagonally left to the stile opposite, cross a field, then go left following the field-edge to reach a stile into the woods. Follow the path ahead. Go down three granite steps and in 10yds (9m) reach a junction.

Follow the right-hand track (can be very muddy) to reach Helford by the bridge over the stream. Go up the road directly ahead to the car park.

Additional information

Good woodland paths and tracks and field paths; short section of quiet lane; many stiles

Wooded creekside and fields

Dogs must be kept under strict control between Treath and St Anthony and in all fields

OS Explorer 103 The Lizard

Helford car park overlooking the creek; can become busy in summer; only authorised cars are allowed beyond the car park into the village of Helford; also in St Anthony

Helford car park

Been on this walk?

Send us photos or a comment about this route.

Know a good walk?

Share your route with us.

WALKING IN SAFETY

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

Find out more

About the area

Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.

In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.

Why choose Rated Trips?

Your trusted guide to rated places across the UK
icon example
The best coverage

Discover more than 15,000 professionally rated places to stay, eat and visit from across the UK and Ireland.

icon example
Quality assured

Choose a place to stay safe in the knowledge that it has been expertly assessed by trained assessors.

icon example
Plan your next trip

Search by location or the type of place you're visiting to find your next ideal holiday experience.

icon example
Travel inspiration

Read our articles, city guides and recommended things to do for inspiration. We're here to help you explore the UK.