We rented a farmhouse with a private mooring on Gillan Creek, just south of the Helford River in Cornwall. It is very tidal and we realised that we had to launch before breakfast if we wanted to catch the rising tide. This turned out to be the making of out holiday on the Helford, as the river is definitely at its best on a clear spring morning as the sea mist is just lifting.
In the shelter of the creek the river was like glass, without a ripple. We could see Herons and white Egrets as we made our way out to sea past the 12th century village of St Anthony-in-Meneage with its Norman church and across the causeway that can be walked across at low tide. (We tried this later and it makes a useful short cut.)
Out to sea
Once you round the headland at Dennis Head you are actually in the Atlantic and on a clear day can see the commercial port and town of Falmouth in the distance. Surprisingly we noticed some swans had followed us out to sea - the first time I’ve ever seen that. There were small breakers hitting the jagged rocks of the coast so I can imagine that rounding the headland can be quite challenging in rougher weather, as there is nothing between Falmouth and America.
Into the Helford
We finally entered the Helford the water calmed down again quickly. The whole of the Helford Estuary has recently been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and it is easy to see why, as there is nearly 30 miles of shoreline, providing an enormous variety of habitats.
In the time we were there we didn’t even get to the famous Frenchman’s Creek or up to the head of the river to the thriving boatyard at Gweek Quay – but we will definitely return.
Map of the Helford River