Equally as idyllic in the height of summer or the depths of winter, this stunning part of the Cornwall, known as North Helford, never disappoints. Picture postcard villages like Durgan and Helford nestle on the shores of the river banks, whilst Rosemullion Head provides the gateway to the sea, Falmouth and beyond to Penryn where the shipbuilding industry, universities and culture are thriving.
All are linked by the Cornish part of the South West Coast Path which is easily accessible from the cottage and provides excellent ‘destination’ type walking, or a short hop in the car will bring you to the many attractions this part of Cornwall has to offer.
Unlike many parts of Cornwall, Mawnan Smith and the surrounding area is a year round destination. The famous gardens at Trebah and Glendurgan are open all year as are the pubs, restaurants and most of the beach cafes. Of course, the walking is spectacular whatever time of year you visit.
Mawnan Smith is a thriving village 2 miles from the north banks of the Helford River. The village has a Post Office & Store, The Cornish Maid Cafe, The Red Lion Pub, The Penguin Studio for children’s crafts and many other attractions to visit. Not far from the village, the famous Church at Mawnan sits proudly on the cliff top overlooking the Helford River. World famous Trebah Gardens and The National Trust Glendurgan Gardens are less than a mile away.
Coast Path Walking
For walkers, the South West Coast Path is easily accessible from the cottage, just a 20 minute walk downhill to join the Maenporth to Helford Passage stretch. From here the options are endless; in the summer take the ferry over to The Lizard (Easter – October) or head the other way to Falmouth and beyond. Check out the blog for ideas on walks, either from the cottage or further afield.
The Helford River
Famous for its creeks, tranquility and romance, the Helford River is a little known gem in South West Cornwall. To the north is Falmouth and the surrounding villages, to the south The Lizard. The river is accessible via Durgan, Helford Passage and the Budock Vean Hotel on the north bank, and via Gweek, Port Navas and Helford Village on the south bank. The river has inspired writers (Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek is based on the creek of the same name on the south side) artists, musicians and chefs whist also providing employment for fishermen and at The Duchy Oyster Farm at Port Navas from which oysters are sent all over the world.
There are wonderful things to do in all of these villages and on the water, so check out the blog to find out more about what would interest you.
Beaches / Access to the Water
There are local beaches on the Helford River, most of which are dog friendly all year round. These tend to be pebble and shingle and in most cases are not accessible by car, making them uncrowded, particularly in the off season. It is not unusual to find yourself completely alone, with only your dog, the waves and the glorious views for company. The river beaches tend to be the best for swimming. Most river beaches on the north side can be accessed by foot within 20 minutes walk.
Access to other river activities is mainly via Helford Passage, 1.5 miles from the Cottage. This is the ‘jumping off point’ for exploring the river, hiring boats, getting the ferry to the other side or simply having something to eat at The Ferryboat in watching the world go by.
A sandy and wide beach at Maenporth is less than 5 minutes drive away where surf sometimes rises and children can practice body boarding. There is a good cafe there too (seasonal). Further afield the stunning Lizard beaches and those of West Cornwall are well worth a visit. For any Poldark fans, a visit to Kynance Cove (Nampara’s beach) on the Lizard is sure to make your itinerary.
In recent years, the addition of the Exeter University Marine Biology department to Penryn’s campus has brought an influx of students and employment to the area which has seen Falmouth morph from a sleepy coastal town to one that has been rated number 1 town to live in in the UK by The Sunday Times. Despite the hype and expansion, Falmouth has a wonderful vibe to it and rather than feeling over crowded, the progress has brought excellent places to eat, a more vibrant cultural scene and better shopping (plus a decent cup of coffee). The high street is thriving, as are the docks which house Pendennis Shipyard and are also home to visiting Royal Navy warships which come in for maintenance. Regular ferries depart for St Mawes all year round and in the summer the quay is the launch point for river cruises, fishing trips and, if the tide is right, a boat trip all the way up to Truro.
The National Maritime Museum on Discovery Quay in Falmouth regularly pops up as one of the UK’s best museum destinations and is ideal for children and adults alike. Around the square and up the high street you will find world class seafood and of course, the traditional pasty. No one can visit Falmouth without a quick trip into Trago Mills. If you are in need of a bit of fishing kit, a carpet, a packet of seeds, a birthday card, a pair of socks or anything really, head into the store and you’ll be sure to walk out with ten other hard to find things that have been on your shopping list for years.
Windswept, stunning, historical, innovative are just a few words people use to describe this rural peninsular so often ignored by those heading further west or staying north of the river. One of the most interesting ways to explore the area is to walk a portion of the South West Coast Path, being sure to take in the spectacular RNLI lifeboat station, the original Atlantic Telegraph hut and Cadgwith beach. Grab a pasty from Ann’s Pasties on the way and make a day of it. You won’t be disappointed.
If eating out is your thing then you are in for a treat. Local pub fayre ranges from good pub grub to seafood extravaganzas whilst many beach cafes provide great value fresh food, sandwiches, chips in a basket and local ice cream.
Fine dining is also an option with many great restaurants in Falmouth or within a 10 minute drive. For those looking for something extra special, Michelin starred Driftwood is across the water (accessed via Truro or via the King Harry Ferry) on the Roseland Peninsula. We went in August 2018 and it surpassed our expectations.