The river has long been an important industrial and agricultural marine highway serving local mines, farms and quarries as well as the local fishing industry.
The Helford River is renowned for its marine ecology, with its temperate maritime climate and scenic beauty. Approximately 50km in length, the shoreline is bordered by high banks which are draped in ancient oak trees, their branches hanging low to kiss the water and jagged, limpet-covered rocks. The peaceful and sheltered estuary provides a happy habitat for a wide range of bird species such as egrets, grey herons, cormorants, ducks and grebes.
This part of Cornwall is an extremely key area of conservation and wildlife. It has Sites of Special Scientific Interest such as Nare Point and Prisk Cove and provides an important breeding ground for certain species including porcelain crabs, anemones and starfish. This is also the location where oysters are dredged seasonally using traditional methods, providing an important industry for the Helford River area.
The river is protected from most winds other than those in an easterly direction and therefore is the perfect place to experience kayaking, sailing and snorkelling.
There are few better ways to see the Helford River than by kayak. With the clear, clean water, stunning surroundings and collection of wildlife, rent a kayak from Tom Ellemann at Port Navas Yacht Club and have a memorable day on the water in what we believe is the most tranquil and idyllic part of Cornwall.
Set off from Port Navas in either a single or double kayak. Please make sure to check the tide times beforehand so that you know when it will be easiest to launch and shore up. Sunscreen, water and snacks are essential, as is having a thorough look at a map of the Helford River so you are familiar with where your choice of direction will take you.
Factoring in a rest at one of the many welcoming waterside pubs or restaurants is key to making this a full Cornish day out. The Shipwright Arms is a gorgeous and beautifully positioned smugglers pub with wonderful views, tasty food and friendly staff, offering an idyllic place to sit by the water and enjoy pub classics. The family-owned Ferryboat Inn dates back 300 years and sits surrounded by wooded banks and sloping fields. They have a ‘farm to table’ philosophy so that nothing comes between diners and the produce they serve.
The compact size of the kayaks leaves you free to explore small creeks and coves and there is ease in landing on shore if something takes your interest. We recommend kayaking up Frenchman’s Creek in search of herons and bass which populate the waters. While gliding quietly along the estuary you are less likely to disturb any wildlife that you come across, as you can stop paddling and drift silently closer. As well as the benefits to the adventurer in you, kayaking is much better for the environment than using a motorboat, they are easy to clean and don’t require water-resistant surface paints that can leach chemicals into the water.
To book a kayak for the day from Port Navas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tom on 07798 824435.