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.