Cornwall AONB Walk
Helford Passage & Frenchman's Creek
Walk Route Description
This walk has it all! A drowned river valley (Helford River), two creeks (Gillan and Frenchman's), superb sea views (Falmouth Bay), ancient woodlands (Bosahan Estate), four attractive villages and rolling countryside. It is allegedly one of the best walks of its kind in Britain.
From the free car park above Helford Passage (grid ref SW764271) walk down to the little passenger ferry and cross to Helford village with its thatched roofs and history of smuggling. Go past the pub and then turn left over the timber bridge then left again and continue east on the South West Coast Path through the hamlet of Treath, where the ferry used to run from. The path meanders through the wooded Bosahan Estate. At Dennis Head, which marks the entrance to Gillan Harbour, admire Falmouth Bay and then amble down to St Anthony-in-Meneage (the land of the monks) and visit its candlelit church and holy well to the north. Continue along the lane that hugs the northern bank of Gillan Creek to the little National Trust wood on the left, which serves as an ideal picnic spot, with a huge macrocarpa to shelter under if needed.
At the head of the creek turn right towards Manaccan and then veer off to the right along the public footpath until reaching an unmade road turning left to Manaccan Church. Note the fig tree growing out of the church wall and look for the-skull and crossbones gravestones. Inside there is a plaque to the man who discovered titanium. Leave the churchyard and go right up the hill turning left on to the footpath that runs through a housing estate. Follow this path through fields and woods to the hamlet of Kestle and its interesting old farm buildings. Take the steep track down to Frenchman's Creek (of Daphne du Maurier fame), which often has an eerie stillness perhaps because of the number of waterlogged fallen trees. Turn right and follow the National Trust path northwards later taking a flight of steps up to the right then stopping to take in the view of the Helford River west to Groyne Point. Take the second on the left down to Penarvon Cove finding the path at the back of the beach, which leads back to Helford village and perhaps the Shipwrights Arms.
You can summon the ferry by opening a display board and return to Helford Passage. If time permits visit one the four superb gardens on the north bank of the Helford. Our favourite is Penjerrick (grid reference 777307) where on a steamy day you can imagine being in the jungle.
This walk is noted for the variety of bird life particularly around Gillan Creek and the assortment of river craft and sea-going vessels on view.
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It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.
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Walking in Cornwall
This guidebook includes routes to 40 day walks in Cornwall. From short, easy strolls to longer, wilder routes, there is plenty to appeal to both families and experienced walkers. The walks explore the interior and coasts, including walks through picturesque villages, old tin-mining areas and the Lizard and Land's End Peninsulas.