From the National Trust carpark at Bosveal, it’s a 5-minute walk down to this sand and shingle river beach flanked by huge pine trees and ancient oaks (the Helford is one of the very few places in the UK where ancient woodland meets the sea). It’s a favourite swimming and paddleboard spot with beautiful views across the river. There aren’t any facilities to speak of, but you can wander along to the tiny hamlet of Durgan next door for ice cream in the little hut — the beach here is at the bottom of the National Trust’s Glendurgan Gardens.
On the northern banks of the Helford River, this sand and shingle river beach is a picturesque spot for a swim or paddle, with the ever-popular Ferryboat Inn just behind — grab a table on the terrace and watch the boats sail by. There’s a ferry crossing which operates between here and Helford Village on the opposite bank (April to October only) — this is where the South West Coast Path crosses the river on continue its course around the Lizard Peninsula.
Right on the South West Coast Path, this little sandy cove is a 10-minute walk down through fields and woodland from the church at Mawnan. It’s off-the-beaten-path location only adds to its appeal — it’s a beautiful, sheltered spot, a favourite place for ramblers and dog walkers. As the tide recedes, a stretch of sand is revealed and there’s a small stream and a boathouse set back from the shore.
There’s a string of pretty coves and idyllic swimming spots along the southern banks of the Helford, too. Park in Helford Village and take the South West Coast Path east and you’ll come across several pretty swimming spots within a half hour walk. A favourite is the secluded Bosahan Cove, a sand and shingle beach backed by tall pines and with wonderful rocks to clamber on. Even on a beautiful day, chances are you’ll have the whole cove to yourself.