Frenchman's Creek circular walk
Frenchman's Creek was made famous by Daphne Du Maurier's classic and it's not hard to see why she was so inspired to write about this hidden part of the Helford River. This circular walk around Frenchman's Creek offers a taste of village life, wooded valleys and sheltered creeks. In the spring and early summer the flowers through the woodlands are at their best however this is a walk that can be enjoyed all year round.
Helford Village public car park
The walk starts on the road from the car park, follow the road downhill into the village. Helford Village represents a classic English coastal idyll; with thatched cottages, boathouses and historic features. Take the bridge over the creek and past the old classic red phone box. As you head up toward the village shop the view opens up out over the Helford River and towards Carrick Roads beyond. Continue along the road down towards the Shipwrights Arms pub.
From the pub, busy in the summer with children crabbing off the slip and often equally so in the winter with couples enjoying the retreat from the Cornish mist and rain, take the small road behind Poppygale cottage, after about 50 yards take the footpath on the right that leads down to Penarvon Cove.
The circular walk at Pengwedhen
To add an extra 1/2 mile to your journey that's well worth doing follow the route up to the right of the house in the cove and take the steps up to Pengwedhen. Follow the driveway past the stores and the woodshed to the gate and then complete the short circular walk around the woodlands. In the spring the woodlands team with flowers and you'll find the tiny chapel of St Francis of Assisi, whose patronage was animals, at the bottom of the path. Once you return to the gate follow the route back down to Penarvon cove.
From Penarvon Cove head up hill up the road. At the top of the road follow the track to the right over the cattle grid and you will be rewarded with stunning views all across The Helford. Continue along the track until you get to the bottom of the hill where you can either go left taking the slightly shorter top path through Frenchman's Creek or right following the creekside route. The creekside route offers the possible site or Egrets and an old ship buried in the mud, the top route offers far reaching views up the river towards Gweek. Both routes join together a little further along the route.
Powder and the wreck of the Iron Duke
The house that now nestles on the mouth of Frenchman's Creek was once a wooden hut owned and built by a man named Percy "Powder" Thurburn. His boat, now sadly wrecked, was called the "Iron Duke" and has been moored in the same place in the creek since 1920. After the first world war Powder (as he was known) can in search of a peaceful place to settle with his wife Ann and came across the small quay. Powder bought the land around it and built his home there, eventually, in 1961, Powder donated the house and thriving gardens to the National Trust and it is now a popular holiday cottage.
The walk through Frenchman's towards Within Quay is the chief attraction of this route. In the spring daffodils and vast carpets of wild garlic cover the woodland floor. At the end of the path as the creek narrows, head up the long hill back towards the road.
Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek
It's not hard to see why this little creek inspired the novelist Du Maurier to write about smugglers after a visit to Helford in the early 1940s. The book tells a powerful love story interspersed with tales of smuggling and piracy set in the period of Charles II and the creek features as an important setting for parts of the novel.
Cross the road and enter the yard at Kestle Barton. Continue through the yard past the buildings and through the gate into the field where the path continues down into the woodland. Cross over the bridge in the woods and turn left following the muddy track back into Helford Village.
Kestle Barton is an ancient farmstead set in fields and woods high above Frenchman’s Creek and the Helford River. Now an art gallery and collection of holiday cottages having been restored recently through traditional building techniques, Kestle Barton is open between Easter and the end of October showing various art exhibitions and events, there is also a lovely garden and small refreshments kiosk to relax at.
Helford Village public car park
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