Messing about on the river Helford

I have lived in Cornwall since I was eight, why on earth have I never been to Helford before?  This week I discovered that it truly is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cornwall.  A genuine ice cream ‘experience’ too.

The drive down to the Helford Passage was a pleasure in itself, beautiful Cornish lanes (not too treacherous) with glimpses of the estuary and the wonderful countryside that lay in wait for me.  I passed both Glendurgan and Trebah gardens en route too, which if tagged on to your Helford trip would make for a really full day out.

There is a good sized car park before you get down to the village which is only £2 for the day although do be prepared for a steep descent down to the beach.

Children fish from the pontoon down at the beach at Helford Passage

From there I caught a taxi over to Helford… a water taxi of course, care of Helford River Boats.  Our salty sea skipper, Ian, was very knowledgeable and chatty and I had a very pleasurable trip over the passage – no mean feet for a girl who has felt sick on the King Harry Ferry before now!


On reaching Helford, I followed a coastal path perhaps ½ mile along until I reached the main row of houses and the pub.

It was a chocolate box village full of quaint cottages with roses growing and a little bridge that took you up onto the road out of the village.

Beside the car park stands an old chapel which has been converted to a tearoom – benches to sit on outside and pews inside!  A beautiful little building that Ottie, the now owner, fell in love with and filled with life after having laid empty and dormant for many years.

Down by the River Cafe

Ottie started the business, ‘Down by the Riverside Café’ four years ago after noticing that there was nowhere in the village where you could sit down for a nice cuppa of an afternoon.  “I live on the coastal path in the village and I had so many people asking me where they could get a cream tea that I thought there must be potential for a tearoom” said Ottie “There was a lovely County Councillor, Pam Lyne, who really believed in my idea and motivated me to convert the beautiful little unused chapel into something that people really called for” and she hasn’t looked back.

Ottie and Lorna (Ottie’s friend and business partner) open the café from Easter until the end of October serving light lunches and cream teas.

Inside the cafe

The crab sandwiches are apparently the most popular savoury on the menu – Lorna’s dad fishes out of the Helford in his boat The Lady Hamilton (don’t you know!) and drops fresh crabs in to them each morning to prepare their sandwiches.  The scones are made in small batches by the team of two along with a selection of cakes.

Scones fresh out of the oven

They are enthusiastic about sourcing local products and, apart from the crab, proudly list-off a stream of local producers including Deli Farm Charcuterie meats, chocolate lollipops from the Chocolarder in Porthleven, Origin Coffee and Helford Creek Apple Juice.  The ice cream is Cornish too of course, Callestick Farm Cornish Dairy Ice Cream. Ottie is limited on space but carries the favourites all brim full of Cornish cream and served at your table or to takeaway.

This has proven just one of the most lovely settings to enjoy a proper Cornish ice cream, highly recommended after a Cornish crab sandwich.


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