Exploring Helford in a day
Bring walking boots and perhaps a dog, and head straight for Helford Village. Work up an appetite by taking the footpath at the head of the river to find the seductively wooded banks of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. En route you’ll come across the tiny and inspiring Kestle Barton art gallery. Back at the village The Shipwrights Arms is the arty and foodie place to be. This recently rescued and gloriously thatched pub sits right on the river, and has its own very special, quirky charm. Their menu changes every day, and if the weather is particularly favourable you might even catch one of their al fresco charcoal barbecues.
Next head around to the other side of the river to visit one of the most spectacular gardens in the UK. But first, pick up a picnic for later. There are numerous small artisans producers in the area, and you can find produce at outlets on your way… First there is Helford Village Stores; this neat little emporium is superbly stocked with local eggs and the best bacon, freshly baked Vicky’s bread, and a fabulous deli counter. If it’s the perfect pasty you are after then your quest should lead you to Gear Farm whose ‘home grown’ organic pasties are handmade on site, with ingredients from the farm. And for something to quaff Constantine Stores is a must. In the heart of the tiny village, the unassuming exterior belies a quite breathtaking range of over 1,000 different whiskies liqueurs and eau-de-vies, 50 Cognacs and armagnacs, 150 rums and 50 gins, not to mention wines, vintage and non-vintage champagnes and sparklies, first, second and third growth clarets, sherries, Madeiras and ports of all kinds… phew.
Once suitably victualised, laze away the afternoon in either of Trebah or Glendurgan gardens. Both are set in sheltered south-facing ravines and were stocked by Victorian plantsmen with specimens from the mediterranean, South Africa, Australasia and Chile. Spring and early summer is a particularly good time to visit for spectacular camellias, rhododendrons and magnolias. As the sun sets head for the nearby Ferryboat Inn which dates back 300 years, and was once frequented by David Niven and other glitterati. Wright Brothers seafood specialities are served alongside home-made pub classics. Their ‘farm to plate’ philosophy means that little or nothing comes between you and the produce on your plate. The oysters and shellfish served here are mostly grown and harvested at the historic Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm (a short boat-ride up-river from the pub), and the fish, crabs and lobsters come from local day boats.