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Helford River, Cornwall

Helford River
The Helford River is found in South West Cornwall. It is an excellent example of a ria, or flooded river valley formed by meltwater at the end last Ice Age. The river runs through some of the most picturesque areas of southwest England. Green hills complete with ancient woodlands roll down to meet the sea in a wonderful contrast of verdant green and aquamarine blue. The maritime position means the area enjoys mild weather, where cold winters are as rare as very hot summers.

Helford Passage is a wonderful sandy beach near the mouth of the river. Considered a relatively safe place to bathe, the beach is very popular with holiday makers and locals alike. Helford Passage has a good family pub, the Ferry Boat Inn , and a small shop. Ferries can be taken from here to the beautiful gardens at Trebah and Glendurgan and small boats can be hired from here, or from Helford Village. These are very useful for exploring the creeks along the river. The Helford estuary is fed by seven creeks, namely from West to East are Ponsontuel Creek, Mawgan Creek, Polpenwith Creek, Polwheveral Creek, Frenchman's Creek, Port Navas Creek, and Gillan Creek.

A seal sanctuary has been established at the head of the river at Gweek . Injured Atlantic grey seals are brought into the sanctuary to be nursed back to full health before being released back into the wild.

In 1987 the Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (HVMCA) was designated in an attempt to protect the valuable and delicate marine life found in the estuary.  The waters and rock pools are rich with crabs, colourful fish, cuttlefish and sea-anemones as well as a range of sea plants. The river was once home to a thriving fishing industry which has now receded somewhat, although trawlers do still land quite substantial amounts of fish at the various quays still in use along the river. The river was once rich with oyster beds and these are now being gradually revived.

The river is a rich feeding ground for birds, especially the on the exposed mud at low tides. No surprise then to find that seabirds are plentiful at Helford, especially from early Autumn and onwards through the winter. Curlew, dunlin, oystercatcher,  redshank, and turnstone are among the many birds drawn to the estuary. Also seen there are ancient grey herons and, on occasion, the little egret has also been spotted in the creeks of the upper river.

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Other Cornwall Naturals

Bodmin Moor
Tamar Valley
The Lizard
River Fowey
Camel Estuary
River Tamar
River Fal
Carbis Bay
Cape Cornwall
Camel Valley
St Anthony Head
Pentire Point and the Rumps
Rough Tor
Rame Peninsula
Dodman Point
Roseland Peninsula
River Camel
River Looe

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History shows that the majority of people that have done anything great have passed their youth in seclusion - Thomas Carlyle
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Battle of Radcot Bridge - 1387, Ivanhoe Published - 1819, Piltdown Man Discovered - 1912, Death penalty abolished - 1969, Queen Becomes Oldest British Monarch - 2007
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