HVS History

The Helford River located in Cornwall is a ria (flooded river valley), and not a true river. It is fed by a number of small streams running into its numerous creeks. There are seven creeks on the Helford, from west to east these are Ponsontuel Creek, Mawgan Creek, Polpenwith Creek, Polwheveral Creek, Frenchman's Creek, Port Navas Creek and Gillan Creek. The best known is Frenchman's Creek, made famous by Daphne du Maurier in her novel of the same name.

The river has long been an important industrial and agricultural marine highway serving local mines, farms and quarries and, more recently, as base for a dozen or so local fishing boats and the oyster farm.

Most of this industry has now gone, although fishermen still use the river to moor up and land their catch. The industries have largely been replaced by tourist activities, in particular those relating to the sea, although at the head of the river the landscape is dominated by the extensive operations of Gweek Boatyard and the base of marine drilling and construction company Fugro Seacore. These businesses now dominate the head of the river where once coal and timber were landed.

Helford village, on the south bank, is home to a Post Office, the Down by the Riverside Café, The Helford River Sailing Club and of course the ancient Shipwrights Arms. Along the banks of Helford Creek are pretty riverside cottages, formerly homes for Bosahan agricultural workers and now mostly holiday accommodation, although some are permanently occupied.

Often perceived as a holiday village, with amazing views of the river, access for water activities and holiday accommodation, Helford is in fact a thriving community with a population of over 50 people who enjoy a close, friendly and supportive community.

Although quiet during the winter months, Helford becomes a hub for leisure activities involving beaches, the south west coast path and of course boating on the river. By Easter the river is alive with boating activities and between 400 and 500 craft of all shapes, sizes and prices are moored in the pool and around.

Helford Passage, on the north bank, has a pub, The Ferryboat Inn, and is the next stage of the South West Coast Path. Helford and Helford Passage are linked by a passenger ferry which has existed for over 300 years. Port Navas is home to the Duchy Oyster Farm and has at its focal point the Grade II listed Port Navas Quay. Where once granite was loaded onto ships bound eastwards for constuction of some of the country's major buildings and roads, the oyster fishery is expanding and there are also moorings for craft of vaious sizes.

From Helford, the passenger ferry will take you to The Ferryboat Inn, Helford River Sailing Club, Port Navas Yacht Club, The Shipwrights Arms, Trebah and Durgan. Many people bring their own small boat or rent a craft from Sailaway and extend their trip to The Gweek Inn or Falmouth Bay.