Little Gwendreath Walk the South West Coast Path - Day 11 - Saint Anthony-in-Meneage - Helford
Map: OS Explorer: 103
Distance: 3.4 miles/5.5 km
Steepness grade: Moderate
Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or trainers in summer
St Anthony is a quiet little village based around a small cove on Gillan Creek. A variety of sailing boats are parked up on the pebbles opposite the church and the water laps up on to the beach, aside from that there are hardly any other noises. It is possible to rent a variety of watercraft here from Sailaway St Anthony and set off to explore coves and creeks under your own steam. There is also a small shop in peak times selling a variety of items including the essentials, ice cream!
We set off up the hill to a headland to join the coast path and make the choice to complete a loop around the headland that we could have missed. The scenery here is made up of oak woodlands meeting saltwater creeks peppered with the occasional house. This is the scenery of the the Meneage (pronounced Men-eeg) an area of the Lizard based south east of Helston and well known for its fertile fields and natural beauty.
Following the path westwards we dip up and down over tree roots and rocks whilst running parallel with the sea. The occasional sailboat or fishing boat passes by on their way into the Helford river and on the opposite side we can see Grebe beach which is rated as one of the best beaches in Cornwall by some due to its crystal clear water and reliable conditions due to the Helford's protection from the sea. Next to Grebe beach is the pretty village of Durgan now mostly owned by the National Trust. It sits at the end of Glendurgan gardens which makes use of the unique growing conditions a south-facing valley gets in this spot. Slightly further down the coast is Trebah gardens which also grows a variety of tropical plants suited well to the warm climate Cornwall offers. Polgwidden beach at the foot of Trebah gardens was the setting off point for American soldiers destined to take part in the assault on Omaha beach in June 1944. The concrete access road they built is still there along with a memorial to those who never returned.
We pass by a few peaceful and beautiful coves on this walk. The largest of which is Bosahan Cove so named as it forms part of the Bosahan estate whose gardens are open to visitors at certain times of the year. Each of these coves is deserted and we spend a little time at one of them skimming stones after accidentally disturbing a couple of Shelducks on arrival.
As we pass the Helford River Sailing Club we arrive into the village of Helford itself. This has become a playground of the rich and famous and celebrities such as Roger Taylor of Queen and Mick Fleetwood now live near the village which is a collection of whitewashed cottages and thatched houses centered on the creek running through the centre. The village pub, The Shipwrights Arms, is one of our favourites in Cornwall as it always has space on one of its waterside benches where you can watch boats go by whilst kids play in the shallows next to the pub.
Our path and our walk around the coastline of the Lizard ends at the ferry landing at Helford Point. The ferry takes walkers (and drinkers) over to Helford Passage on the north bank where they can either join the coast path again or go into the Ferryboat Inn depending on their inclination.
We've had a great time rediscovering parts of the path and filling in a few gaps that we had never walked before. We're reminded why we moved to Cornwall and why we love it here. We hope you will come and visit us soon!