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Helford River Walk – The Spectacular 6.3 Mile Circular

~ 6.3 Mile Walk and Dip

Helford River

North Easterly > 15mph

Sun and Clouds

My recce mission of the mighty Helford River Walk. A route close to home, I will be walking this trail again and again – the length gives my legs a good stretch and it is peppered with glorious river swim spots.

Navigating Hidden Parish Paths

I loved exploring the rural village footpaths of the north Helford River walk. On a bright day with little wind, they took me through the veins of Mawnan CP and away from the busy roads. My first path passed vegetable and garden allotments with cornered wild grass areas – buzzing with life.

The trail led past high-fenced gardens and after a few road steps, the familiar green sign pointed me to a tiny mud track. It did feel like I was trespassing in someone’s garden but the old stone styles guided my way.

Navigating these hidden paths and crossing the Cornish countryside on foot gives me a real sense of accomplishment – especially when doing it for the first time – every turn is a mystery. Especially where the tiny mud track led to!

Countryside Trails of Mawnan Smith

Green green grass, blue blue skies. My narrow route opened up to a vast field and on the right was a spectacular view of rolling farmland. Keeping to the hedges and observing the happy herd of milking cows, my navigation skills were put to the test at the farmyard.

I eventually located the camouflaged fence in the hedge and the trail disappeared down a very steep verge with towering hedgerow. Step by step into the valley and through more luscious, clover-peppered grass and wooden gates – the faded footpath cut to the corner of a field where I discovered the well-hidden exit leading into the woods.

All my visits to Maenporth I never knew that this woodland existed! The tree’s roots claim the paths and only the sound of birds and leaves accompanied me. If you fancy a pub lunch at The Red Lion in Mawanan Smith and a beach visit – this secret passage gives you both.

With calm waters waiting, I took a refreshing dip at Maenporth Beach and joined the south west coastal path to walk back towards the Helford River.

South West Coast Path - North Helford

As I left the beach, the dusty path tapered with each step until the fern hedgerow stroked my shoulders. The busy oncoming footpath traffic felt a little awkward too as past social distancing rules from pandemic sprang to mind – but there were a few human passing places.

The path took me up steep steps, over rickety bridges and past private gates giving exclusive access to pretty coves and tidal beaches. I stretched my legs at the foot of Meudon Hotel’s luscious gardens and dipped in the crystal waters at Bream Cove.

I am so pleased I packed 3 swimsuits and microfibre towels – nature treated me to low winds and calm seas giving a great choice of swim spots along the route. Packing up and rehydrating, I skipped over Rosemullion head and followed the twisting coast past into the mouth of the Helford River.

Mawnan Glebe Woods - The Owl Man

Mawnan Glebe is a woodland perched on the edge of the sea. I hopped down the staircase onto the leafy, mud path that cuts into the steep slopes of the glebe. These woods are also home of a strange tale: The Owl Man.

Owl head with a human body or human head with an owl body? Non, actually. One sighting of a huge winged beast flying above the church back in 1976 was enough of a story for locals to claim a folklore creature in the village. It was probably just a barn owl or a Euraisan Eagle Owl!

Although, I will say the woods had a strange quietness to them as I passed through. Out the other end, I marched toward what would be the best view of this Helford River Walk.

Helford River Beachs

When I reached the top of the hill, I felt I’d stepped into a painting. The panoramic views of the Helford River from its mouth all the way to the creeks was one to remember. I rested for a while and watched tiny boats and people navigate the waters and footpaths.

Skipping part of the trail chasing the scenery, I crossed over the field that abruptly fell into another valley. The sister shingle beaches of Porthallack and Porth Saxon were warm in the midday sun and hosted dingy practice, swimmers and rock skimmers.

The beaches of Helford are already so familiar to me, so I left the beauty of Grebe to awe-inspired visitors and set up for my final swim on the banks of Durgan. Low tide exposed a small concrete slip where I struggled to boil my hard shells of pasta.

Finishing with a splash in the sea, I made my through the trees of Bosveal and drove home with three swims and 6.3 miles under my boots!

Download 'Helford River Walk'

 My recce of the 6.3 ~ Miles Helford River Walk was an overall a success and it allowed me to experience the route when the sea conditions where safe enough for several sea swims along route.

This Helford River Walk is available for download at Cornish Explorer online store. Map, description and route details included.

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Portreath’s Tidal Baths

There are baths cut into the cliffs of Portreath, a visit at low tide and you will discover many of Lady Basset’s Baths.

If you have any questions or comments, pop them below or email me. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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