When staying in South Cornwall, a must-do activity during your stay is a trip up the Helford river, an unspoilt estuary flanked by tree-covered banks, secluded beaches, creeks and quaint villages. With truly stunning scenery, and offering something much different to the rugged North Cornish coastline, this hidden corner of Cornwall is well worth experiencing. The best bits are seen from boat, so when we were kindly invited on a trip with Helford River Cruises, we jumped at the chance. Although the forecast wasn’t great, the weather turned out to be perfect, and the beautiful evening light made it even better.
After making the journey over from Aspects HQ in Hayle, we parked up at the Budock Vean Hotel, and walked down through the sub-tropical gardens to the foreshore we were greeted by Hetty and Tom, who run Helford River Cruises. Moored up along the river bank was Hannah Molly, the 19 foot motor boat which would be taking us on our boat tour.
Setting off from the Budock Vean heading East, our skipper Hetty first took us past the Oyster Fishery, which was set up in the 1900’s, and still in use today. We continued towards the river mouth, passing the renowned Ferryboat Inn, which dates back to the 16th century, and comes highly recommended by Hetty as an excellent place to grab a bite to eat.
Next up Hetty pointed out the beach at the bottom of Trebah gardens – a full day out in itself, but a lovely place to visit if you’re in the area.
Before we ended up out at sea, we turned round and headed back West, over to Helford village and past The Shipwrights Arms, another pub with views to die for.
Next up was Frenchman’s Creek, probably the most famous part of the Helford, and what inspired Daphne du Maurier’s historical novel of the same name.
An abundance of wildlife can be found along the Helford River, and if you’re lucky you may even see dolphins and porpoises near Falmouth Bay. We weren’t so lucky, but we did spot herons and egrets!
On the return journey back to Budock Vean we visited Port Navas, one of Cornwall’s most picturesque villages.
We arrived back at Budock Vean, awaited by Tom, ready to help us off the boat.
Hannah Molly can be booked for private groups of up to 12 people, and can even include champagne if celebrating a special occasion. Helford River Cruises run from mid-February to mid-December, and an hour and half boat ride costs just £20 per person, but can be tailored to suit.
Being on the water might work up your appetite, so if you don’t fancy one of the pubs mentioned, the Budock Vean Hotel serves afternoon tea every day between 3pm & 5pm or an evening meal for £41 per person.
If you want to explore the rugged North Cornwall Coastline too, Hetty and Tom also run Koru Kayaking, which offers kayak tours around Trevaunace Cove in St Agnes.
Read our blog about Koru Kayaking >
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