5 Top Swim Spots in the Helford

Wild swimming in the Helford Estuary unveils the enchanting beauty of Cornwall’s aquatic wonders. With secluded beaches, hidden coves, and picturesque villages lining its shores, the estuary offers a unique and serene escape for wild swimmers, blending crystal-clear waters with the timeless charm of Cornwall’s southwest coast. In this blog post, we’ll dive into 5 Top Swim Spots in and around the stunning Helford.

(If you’d like more info about some of the other beaches and coves nearby in the Lizard Peninsula / Helford Estuary area, please do have a little look at our other page: The Beaches. )

1) Gillan / Flushing Cove – Secluded serenity

Number 1 in our “5 Top Swim Spots” has got to be Gillan and Flushing Coves. These hidden gems are tucked away from the madding crowds. They are off the beaten track for many (approx 2 miles from Number 7). The coves are a short walk or swim from each other (conditions allowing). They lie at the entrance to Gillan Creek, a small inlet at the start of the Helford Estuary.

Keen swimmers might like to explore up the Gillan Creek, but be careful both of the tide (always swim on an incoming tide here), and also of the boats in the creek. Further up the creek St Anthony in Meneage also offers a slipway and launch facilities for SUPs, Dinghy’s etc.

2) Bosahan Cove – Another hidden gem

Tucked away from the beaten path, Bosahan Cove welcomes dippers to its hidden shores. Only accessed by foot or water, this is a true secret gem. With clear turquoise waters framed by lush greenery, this secluded spot offers a peaceful retreat. There is a beautiful walk through Bosahan estate – perfect for those who like a walk and swim. The absence of crowds makes this a gem for those seeking tranquillity.

3) Frenchman’s Creek – Timeless Beauty

Made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Frenchman’s Creek is a timeless beauty on the Helford Estuary. The creek’s calm waters and lush surroundings create an idyllic setting for a refreshing swim. Frenchman’s Creek is characterised by prehistoric woodland dipping its branches down to the water’s edge. The Creek can be accessed via a brief walk from Helford village. On the way, you’ll pass through another lovely spot – Penarvon Cove. It’s best to swim on an incoming tide / high water as the creek dries out completely at low tide. Care needs to be taken as this is a very remote spot with trees/vegetation in and around the water.

Pictures courtesy of two wonderful local activity providers: www.korukayaking.co.uk and www.supinabag.co.uk

4) Helford Village – Unspoilt beauty

Swimming from Helford Village offers a delightful blend of coastal charm and tranquil waters. Nestled along the Helford Estuary, the village provides access to a refreshing dip. The idyllic setting, framed by picturesque scenery, creates a serene ambience for swimmers seeking both relaxation and natural beauty. Helford Village itself is home to the lovely Shipwright’s Inn. This is a great waterside traditional pub where you can enjoy a post-dip cup of hot chocolate. This is one of our favourite locations in our 5 Top Swim Spots.

More adventurous and confident swimmers might enjoy exploring along the estuary, or potentially even across the estuary to Helford Passage and the range of beaches along the other side. Care obviously needs to be taken with the tidal currents of the estuary, and also with marine traffic, particularly during the warmer months.

As Helford Village itself is traffic-free, there is a lovely car park at the top of the village, complete with a dog-friendly cafe and stunning views:

5) Grebe Beach, Durgan and Trebah Gardens Beach

Finally in our 5 Top Swim Spots, across the opposite side of the Helford River are a number of other magical coves. Grebe Beach is a stunning and secluded cove cocooned between towering cliffs.

Accessing the beach involves either arriving by water or traversing a narrow path through the surrounding woods, enhancing the feeling of seclusion and privacy. Abundant in wildlife, the area may reward visitors with sightings of dolphins, seals, and various seabirds.

A short stroll from Grebe Beach leads to Durgan Hamlet, a charming village offering a glimpse into Cornwall’s rich history and culture. Nestled along the Helford River amidst lush greenery and beautiful gardens, Durgan Hamlet is a tranquil retreat.

The National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden, a 15-minute walk uphill, has loos in the car park. It’s worth visiting to explore the exotic plantings of its three valleys or tackle the puzzle of the cherry-laurel maze, planted in 1833. It also has a tea shop with a range of refreshments.

Similarly, sub-tropical Trebah Garden is just a 20-minute walk away, with wholesome, nutritious food served at Trebah Kitchen. Trebah has a private beach, Polgwidden Cove, with a boathouse beach café.

Further information about these locations and other great nearby spots can also be found on our pages: The Beaches Near Number 7 and Explore, Swim, SUP, Walk Bodyboard.

Cautionary note: Please take care to ensure you swim within your capabilities, whilst being mindful of the local conditions, tides and weather. Always take appropriate precautions such as checking tides, weather, local knowledge and swimming with a buddy. Please also bear in mind that mobile signal in many of these areas can be intermittent at best. Consider hiring a local swim guide or swimming with local swim groups. The information contained in this “5 Top Swim Spots” is purely intended as a prompt for ideas and is not intended as a detailed swim guide.

5 Water-based Adventures around the Lizard Peninsula

Exploring the Lizard Peninsula and Helford Estuary

Are you an outdoorsy type of person? Do you love water-based adventures? Would you like to explore the stunning Lizard Peninsula / Helford Estuary part of Cornwall, but maybe from a different perspective? Would you like to see what this area may have to offer?

Cornwall is renowned for its rugged coastline, stunning surfing beaches and beautiful countryside. It is perhaps not surprising that Cornwall is now one of the UK’s top tourist destinations. It is also perhaps not surprising that it is an absolute haven for adventurous activities. You may be highly experienced on SUPper or kayaker, but local knowledge and advice can be absolutely invaluable to get the very best from a new area and turn your break into a magical holiday. Alternatively, you may like to use the opportunity to try something new.

If you’re an outdoor activity enthusiast you may enjoy some of the following:

1) Guided SUP adventures on the Helford River with Koru Kayaking

Drive down to Helford (there is a pay-and-display car park overlooking the estuary). Stroll down to the ferry landing site and be picked up by the lovely team from Koru Kayaking in their river launch. They will whisk you across the Helford Estuary to their base (where they have changing facilities, all the kit you will require and a cafe for the obligatory post-water snack). From there, they will take you on a magical kayak or SUP adventure. For beginners, they have the sheltered Port Navas Creek which is steeped in amazing history with beautiful river fronted houses and magical wooded smaller creeks. For experienced paddlers, they will take you to the famous Frenchman’s Creek or to the secluded beaches and cave near Durgan. The serene surroundings on calm waters are amazing with incredible history and wildlife in an area of outstanding natural beauty. On sunny days there may be an opportunity to swim in the soft waters of the creeks, before paddling back to their base.

2) A coastal adventure with Vertical Blue Adventures

Just around the corner, based in Porthleven is Vertical Blue Adventures. If you fancy getting “up close and personal” to the cliffs, coves and beaches of the Lizard Peninsula then the experienced instructors at Vertical Blue will take you on a range of adventures. Whether that be on a SUP, kayak or coasteering, they know this stretch of coastline inside out. They will take you on an adventure to remember. Vertical Blue also do a range of formal qualifications and training, so if you want to brush up on your SUP rescue techniques, or want to undertake your Coastal Sea Kayak Award, talk to the team at Vertical Blue.

3) Sunset SUP or “SUP like a local with” SUP in a bag

Forgot to bring your own kit? Want to hire a SUP for a few days? The lovely Amanda at SUP in a bag offers a range of services. She will come to you wherever you are staying and bring the kit for a great adventure. Alternatively, you can use your own kit and use her expert knowledge to guide you. Whether it be a Sunset paddle, a (Wildlife Safe Accredited) SUP Safari or a Go anywhere paddle, Amanda knows the best places to take you to give you a holiday to remember. Recent guests at Number 7 sang Amanda’s praises for the adventure she took them on. Amanda has been featured in the Independent’s ‘10 of the Best Paddleboarding Locations in the UK’ (2020) and featured in the Telegraph’s ‘Staycation Nation – 10 of the Best Activity Breaks for Summer’ (2020).

At any point we have a wishlist of Paddles, just waiting for the right company and conditions.

Amanda – SUP in a Bag

4) Family or Group water-based adventures with Lizard Adventure

With over 30 years of experience in outdoor adventure holidays for families, groups and individuals, the team at Lizard Adventure know how to create the perfect balance between safety and fun. Whether you’re looking for a gentle introduction or a complete adrenaline rush, all of their activities will give you memories that last a lifetime. Lizard Adventure run SUP adventures, rock climbing, sea kayaking, coasteering, SUP Yoga and Mega SUPing. They run adventures out of Mullion Cove, Cadgwith Cove, Lizard Point or Hayle Estuary (slightly further afield from Number 7). You can hire kit for a session or enjoy a guided adventure.

5) Sailing and water-based adventures on Trevassack Lake

If you fancy trying your hand at Sailing or SUPing in a calm and sheltered lake with full rescue cover, Just 4.5 miles away is Trevassack Lake. Here a team of qualified instructors are on hand to enthuse, support and encourage. The Activity Centre (The Children’s Sailing Trust Experiences) is run by a charity that creates accessible and affordable watersports and sailing opportunities for young people in Cornwall. The charity supports children through their schools or home education groups, helping them grow in confidence, competence and resilience – personal skills that last a lifetime.

Their commercial courses and sessions for groups, individuals and families are run on the Helford River and at Trevassack Lake. So with every swim, sail and SUP session you purchase, you’ll be helping Children’s Sailing Trust’s work to create opportunities for kids to get out on the water who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance. What is not to love about that? The team run multi-activity days, taster days, formal courses as well as hire of equipment. There is also a cafe on site offering a great family-friendly menu.

Whatever you choose to do, you can be assured of a cosy haven to return to at Number 7 In Cornwall. Oodles of warm water to shower or bathe in, a special area to wash off salty kit and even the essential “Wetsuit Washing Trug” await your return to base. Hang the wetsuits up as you rest your aching limbs after an enjoyable day of adventure whilst enjoying the view.

However you choose to spend your precious time off we hope you enjoy it!