5 of the most scenic sailing spots in Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 17:03 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 30 May 2019

Photo credit: Felix Rowe

Photo credit: Felix Rowe


From wooded creeks to secluded bays, we explore five of the most scenic spots for dropping anchor across the south Cornish coast

Of course, we don't all own a boat, but that needn't prevent you exploring Cornwall's waterways. Enjoying a sail is more accessible than you might think. As well as boat tours, you can hire a dinghy, or charter a yacht with an experienced skipper for a day or weekend, from several locations across Cornwall.

To whet your appetite, we've selected five beautiful spots for dropping anchor along the south coast - secluded locations, relatively easy to reach from one of the main ports. We'll even throw in a hearty waterside pub lunch or two!

1. Channals Creek, The Carrick Roads

From Falmouth

The Carrick Roads, like the neighbouring Helford River, is a flooded valley branching off into untold hidden creeks and tributaries, providing ample beauty spots for taking pause. Channals Creek is one such example, a tranquil, sheltered hideaway below Trelissick, opposite Tolcarne Creek. Heading into the Carrick Roads out of Falmouth, you'll pass Flushing and then Mylor off the port (left) side, with St Just on the Roseland to the starboard (right), before arriving at Channals Creek, just before the river bends towards the historic King Harry Ferry.

Visitors to Trelissick will be well versed in its grandeur. But approaching the house by boat is the best way to appreciate its stately beauty, scale and unrivalled aspect. From the prow, it resembles Toad Hall, standing proud on a hillside that rolls gently down to a shingle beach. Dropping anchor in the natural pool, it's a simple row ashore to stroll the gardens. Channals is the perfect picnic spot, but if a wholesome pub lunch seems more tempting, take the tender to the thatched Pandora Inn at nearby Restronguet Creek.

Helford River around Port Navas . Photo credit: Felix RoweHelford River around Port Navas . Photo credit: Felix Rowe

2. Tremayne Quay, Helford River

From Helford/Falmouth

Back into the bay and following the coast west, we head up the Helford River - the gateway to the Lizard, when approached via Falmouth. You'll never stray far from a picture perfect scene along this enchanting waterway straight out of Swallows and Amazons. Entering the river, Durgan beach - below Glendurgan's subtropical garden - is a sublime spot to stop and absorb the comings and goings of the river. Venturing into the river, Helford Village and Helford Passage face each other across the water. Fancy lunch ashore? Both sides of the river will reward your efforts, whether the Shipwrights Arms in Helford or the Ferry Boat Inn at Helford Passage. There's plenty more to explore further upriver, from Port Navas to Frenchman's Creek, another source of inspiration for Du Maurier. As with any excursion, bear in mind that access to many of the more secluded spots in the upper reaches is largely dependent on the state of the tide - something you'll need to plan in advance! Not every creek or cove is suitable for larger vessels, but it's well worth getting the tender out to explore. Make sure you visit Tremayne Quay, a Grade II listed stone quay built for an anticipated visit by Queen Victoria, and keep your eyes peeled for heron feasting on the local catch.

Fowey River, with Polruan off to the lefthand side and Fowey harbour on the right. Photo credit: Felix RoweFowey River, with Polruan off to the lefthand side and Fowey harbour on the right. Photo credit: Felix Rowe

3. Polridmouth Cove, Polperro Heritage Coast

From Fowey

Fowey is another jewel in Cornwall's nautical crown, beloved of sailors the world over. Whether journeying up or down river, you're again greeted with arresting scenery. Readymoney Cove, opposite Polruan at the river mouth, is a popular retreat. Look out for the ruin of St Catherine's Castle, built by Henry VIII. Following the coast west, you'll spot the prominent daymarker on Gribbin Head, a giant red and white striped stick of candy. Keeping the coast to the starboard, you'll soon arrive at Polridmouth Cove. Hidden from view of the shoreline is the private Menabilly Estate, once home to Daphne Du Maurrier and an inspiration for the novels Rebecca and The King's General.

Polridmouth is a peaceful place to stop and take in the surroundings - perfect for a bit of solitude. If, however, you crave something livelier, continue on round to Polkerris Beach, a popular watersports location. Head ashore for a bite at Sam's on the Beach, the Rashleigh Inn or an ice cream at the Hungry Sailor Café. Refuelled, it's back out into St Austell Bay to enjoy some sailing! From here, it's a short sail to Charlestown, home of the tall ship Phoenix, whose unspoilt historic harbour doubles for 18th century Falmouth in Poldark.

Helford River around Port Navas. Photo credit: Felix RoweHelford River around Port Navas. Photo credit: Felix Rowe

4. Talland Bay

From Looe

Looe is a popular location for dinghy sailing, with a healthy annual programme of racing and events organised by Looe Sailing Club. This stretch of coast is also wonderful for cruising sailors too. Heading out of Looe, pause to appreciate the simple majesty of Looe Island, steeped in history and now a nature reserve. Following the coast west in the direction of Fowey, before the equally pretty Polperro, we arrive at our next beauty spot - Talland Bay. Once a haunt of smugglers, many vessels have been wrecked off its shore, notably the French trawler, Marguerite, in 1922. Talland is another of the wonderfully unspoiled bays that Cornwall has in abundance. Look out for the ancient stone church nestled on the hillside. If you're yearning to stretch your legs and indulge in a gourmet experience, row ashore for lunch at the Talland Bay Hotel's Double AA Rosette restaurant. Whether it's fine dining or something more informal you're after, you'll be well catered for.

Photo credit: Felix RowePhoto credit: Felix Rowe

5. St Germans Quay, Lynher River

From Torpint

Plymouth may be Devon's ocean city, but the surrounding area is an ideal starting point for exploring Cornwall's south east coast. For many visitors to the Duchy typically heading further west, this is an undiscovered part of Cornwall, but its charm really demands stopping to appreciate. Heading out of the Tamar around Rame Head, via Kingsand and Cawsand, you're straight into the world-class sailing waters of Whitsand Bay. Here, Portwrinkle is another perfect stopping point. Remaining inshore, however, you're rewarded with a multitude of idyllic creeks to investigate either side of the Tamar and the Lynher River. It's no coincidence the region is home to several grand riverside estates, notably Mount Edgcumbe, Antony and Port Eliot. Barn Pool looking out over Drake's Island and Devil's Point is both lovely and easily accessible. For the more adventurous, head up the Lynher to St Germans Quay, where the river forks into the River Tiddy, and marvel at the grand rail viaduct. The location's natural allure was acknowledged by Napoleon, who remarked Port Eliot to be the most beautiful place in England. If it's good enough for an exiled emperor, it's surely good enough for us too!

Photo credit: Felix RowePhoto credit: Felix Rowe

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