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The beautiful rivers of South Cornwall

Dare we say: don’t worry about the beaches for a moment? Because there are a plethora of other watery spaces in south Cornwall that are equally as enchanting.

Though you arguably can’t beat cliff side, cove or sandy stretch, there’s another beautifully beguiling landscape that’s particularly prevalent in south Cornwall that presents a different, altogether more mysterious and magical scene: its rivers.

Slicing through the rural interior with both gusto and grace, Cornwall’s rivers are a stunning feature of the county’s geography, where visitors can walk, cycle or horse ride the banks; while the waters are a playground of a different kind, allowing a range of activities from sailing, swimming and SUPing to canoeing, kayaking and fishing.

Here’s a brief guide to exploring south Cornwall’s rivers, where a wonderland of watery activity awaits…

The Helford

Situated between the Lizard Peninsula and Falmouth Bay, The Helford River is the gateway to a variety of things to see and do, from stunning secluded coves along its fifty kilometres of shoreline to a network of gorgeous inland creeks crammed with wildlife and a stirring sense of seclusion. Try your hand at a water sport such as snorkelling or kayaking, dabble in a spot of bird watching or visit one of the sub-tropical gardens such as Trebah and Glendurgan for an awe-inspired day out.

Helford River

With Sites of Special Scientific Interest, marine conservation and ancient woodlands like Merthen dotted throughout, The Helford River is choc with highlights including Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, historic Nare Point and Tremayne Quay, picturesque villages (complete with pubs) Helford and Helford Passage, and attractions including The National Seal Sanctuary in Gweek.

Fal River

Running through a National Landscape (formerly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Fal River is one of Cornwall’s most popular tourist attractions.

One of the best ways of exploring the stunning scenery is via ferry, which gives access to Falmouth and St Mawes Harbours, takes in Pendennis and St Mawes Castles, and links Falmouth, Truro, and The Roseland Peninsula.

From a bevy of breath-taking beaches to spoilsome array of watersports, walking routes, gardens and attractions including The National Maritime Museum, Truro Cathedral, Trelissick Garden, and Royal Cornwall Museum; there’s oodles to keep you occupied between boat trips and sand-between-your-toes sojourns.

Looe River

Splitting the twin town into two (East and West Looe), Looe River is a hub of activity and beyond-beautiful feature of southeast Cornwall.

Venture to Fowey, and from there via pedestrian ferry to the quaint village of Polruan (home of Headland Garden), or to Bodinnick (aboard car ferry) to spy Daphne Du Maurier’s former residence, Ferryside.


Explore other pretty places such as Polperro, Talland and Pelynt, take a river trip up the West Looe river to the Watergate, charter a boat for fishing, or explore the river aboard Looe Valley railway, which runs parallel to the riverbed and affords spectacular views of some truly spellbinding scenes.

Have a look at our Holiday Cottages in South Cornwall >