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Dolphins in Falmouth Bay with August Rock Adventures

October 12, 2020 No Comments
A dolphin swims alongside the boat in Falmouth Bay

August Rock Adventures offer charter boat tours of the Helford River and Falmouth Area, and offer bespoke tours as far away as the Scilly Isles. In late September some of the CHC team were lucky enough to be taken on a tour of Falmouth Bay by rib. Read on to hear all about our exciting morning at sea.

We set off on the morning of the Autumn equinox and have arranged to meet our Skipper Iain on the pontoon at Helford Passage. It’s early enough in the day for the quietness that covers the Helford River to still be in place, and whisps of morning mist still cling to the surface of the water.

A friendly wave from a rib weaving through the moorings announces the arrival of our boat, Harbinger. After hopping in we don our lifejackets and run through a safety briefing. We’re faced with two options for our trip, one heads towards Falmouth for an exploration of the harbour, another takes us out to sea in search of dolphins. With two ten-year olds (and two very excited grown-ups) aboard there’s no question- so it is out to sea we go…

We make our way towards an oil tanker anchored out in the bay. These tankers are a common sight at the edge of the horizon, often seen from the seafront in Falmouth, so getting up close and seeing the scale was fascinating. As we pass along, Iain tells us the meaning of the term ‘Falmouth for Orders’ whereby large ships wait in Falmouth Bay for fluctuations in the price of their cargo or for instructions of where in the world to head out to next.

Flashes of white on the surface of the water beside the tanker are revealed to be gannets, huge birds which spear fish from the skies at speeds of up to 60mph. They swoop past the boat, giving us a close-up view of their blue bills whilst Iain regales us with snippets of insight into the wildlife of the bay. Iain lives alongside the Helford River and knows how to expertly navigate the area.

It isn’t long, however, before something else distracts us from the tankers and the gannets. Fins break through the surface of the water up ahead, and we spot what we’ve all been looking for. Hearts aflutter with excitement, we’re joined at sea by a pod of dolphins!

There’s a code of conduct for watching marine life in this way, which Iain at August Rock respects and adheres to like a true sea-going gentleman. One must never follow a pod of Dolphins, but simply pass on by. If the dolphins show interest, they’ll likely swim beside the boat to ride the bow-wave. If the dolphins do not deviate from their route, it’s safe to assume they have somewhere important to be, and are best left to it.

Luckily for us the pod that we come across are feeling friendly, and take a keen interest in us. They race alongside us to leap from the water inches away from the boat, and at times there are so many of them that our necks swivel at a dizzying speed to see as many as possible. These harbour dolphins are smaller than their bottle-nosed relatives. Their bellies are coloured a beautiful taupe, which we can see beneath the surface of the water as they corkscrew alongside us.

As one pod disperses, another one take it’s place, and we spend 40 minutes in awe by the amazing show provided by nature. We all talk about how aligned with the environment we feel, and how precious and memorable this moment is. In time, the fins become fewer and further between and the dolphins, no doubt distracted by some other source of amusement, part ways from the wake of Harbinger, into the horizon.

And with that, we whizz along towards the Lizard – in search of more adventure. Before long we pass the Manacles, a rocky outcrop just below the water made famous by worried sailors eager to avoid it when navigating the waters into Falmouth Bay. Although no match for modern GPS (which Harbinger is well-equipped with) the yellow buoy which marks the rocks tolls a bell, beautiful and haunting in equal measure as it hits its note with each rolling wave.

Coverack as seen from the boat

As we race across the coast we spot Mussel Farms, sea-salt pumping stations, and the harbour town of Coverack sitting idyllically against the sea in a flush of white painted cottages with thatched roofs.

We pull into a cove and note how the texture of the landscape has changed from the soft greeness of the Helford River to something entirely more wild, and ripe for exploration from the water. On a warmer day, Iain explains, we might have been able to take to the water from the boat and had a moment of wild swimming in total seclusion. With the dolphins just out in the bay there’s surely nowhere else to swim that would make you feel so connected to the world around you.

Making our way back to dry land after two-hours of fun, a calm point towards the horizon from Iain indicates what might just be the most thrilling part of the journey. A blowhole breaks the surface up ahead as a fin whale comes up for air. We spot it around four times, at five-or-so-minute intervals as the whale takes deep breaths and journeys below the surface.

Two very excited little girls, and two equally enthralled grown ups land at Helford Passage almost entirely speechless- two hours on the water felt like deliverance into an entirely different world. A world beneath the waves, seen from the land and heard about, but which never quite seemed real until a morning spent out on the water with August Rock Adventures.

Our Skipper Iain of August Rock Adventures at the helm of Harbinger

Visit augustrockadventures.co.uk to book your own adventure on Falmouth Bay.

Helford River Wildwatch: July

June 28, 2016 No Comments


Helford River Wildwatch: July with Hetty Wildblood,

Koru Kayaking & Helford River Cruises (business supporters of Cornwall Wildlife Trust)


July is a month of hot sunny days and warm summer evenings, the prefect to get out on the water and enjoy wildlife spotting on Helford River and its creeks and here is what to look out for in July:

Heron on fallen branch


Giant grey birds with a wingspan of almost 200cm they look prehistoric when they fly. Nesting high up in the tree tops awaiting the low tide. The heron colony on Polwheveral Creeks has grown in the last month and can be seen sitting up in the tree tops of Merthwn Woods and on the fallen trees on Polpenwith Creek. They can also been seen on the ancient oak tree lined banks of Frenchman’s Creek made infamous by Daphne du Marier’s novel of the same name.

Herons and Egrets


Little egrets have a similar form to grey herons, but are smaller and have bright white feathers and yellow legs and feet. Numbers have grown in the last month. A colony of egrets can be seen on Polwheveral Creek and smaller colonies or individuals on the Helford River, Frenchman’s Creek and Port Navas Creek depending on the wind direction. Bird number swell as Little Egrets fly in from Europe and they can live up to 9 years! In the 19th Century their feathers were the height of fashion decorating ladies hats and it was from the slaughter of the Egrets and resulting reduction in population that led to the formation of the RSPB in the 1800s.



As the tide ebbs the exposed mylor slate shows the hundreds of fat mussels that line the banks of the Helford River. Completely natural, they grow lovely blue / black clumps, safe for another year as old folklore states that can only be picked on Good Friday!



The ducklings are growing up, but a mother with five ducklings seems to be protecting them from the dangers of buzzards and other birds of prey. They can be seen on Port Navas Creek by the Budock Vean Hotel and on Frenchman’s Creek. Here is some video footage: https://www.facebook.com/HelfordRiverCruises/videos/779458072155091/

Cormorant in flight, Helford River, Helford Village


Their jet black wings are waxed so they can swim under water to catch fish – they can dive up to 65 metres!  They can be seen flying around the Helford River and Creeks and perching on the buoys drying out their wigs before diving down for more fish! A popular spot for cormorants are buoys by the oyster station on the Helford River above Port Navas Creek



An all year round treat, but they can bee see gracefully gliding over the Helford River and creeks. It is amazing watching nature in action from the water as Kestrals dive down attacking crow’s nests and the crows gather round this majestic bird to protect their young – a real David Attenborough moment!

Black-Headed Gulls:

Slightly smaller than herring gulls, their heads turn from white with two small dots on the sides of the head to a hood of dark brown / black feathers. These birds can live to 32 years old – there has even been one report of a 65 year old bird!

Grey seal

Grey seals:

Grey seals have been seen at the mouth of Port Navas Creek following fishing boats in the past 5 years, but more recently we have had a grey seal blowing bubbles at us on Polweheveral Creek and on Frenchman’s Creek. Here is some video footage from the boat:


Couple of swans


Beautiful white birds they can be seen gliding up the Helford River and down the creeks, most regularly on Port Navas Creek, but there are sightings on Polwheveral and Frenchman’s Creeks. IN the past months we have seen a pair of swans. Swans form bonds as early as 20 months and can live for 10-20 years! They nest by the water and their eggs incubate for 34-35 days and so we hope to see some cygnets in July!

cormorants by osyter station


Native oysters are in season and can be seen on the low tide Koru Kayak Adventures along the banks of the Helford River.

Pacific Oyster farming also takes place on the Helford River, the farming process can be seen on the boat trips and kayak tours.


Happy Wildlife watching in July!

You can follow our wildlife sightings on our social media: facebook, twitter and Instagram

www.helfordrivercruises.co.uk – 1 ½ hour cruises along the Helford River and Creeks – bring your cameras and binoculars! From Budock Vean Hotel, TR11 5LG

www.korukayaking.co.uk – 2 hour Guided Kayak Adventures – Frenchman’s Creek Kayak Adventures from the Budock Vean Hotel, TR11 5LG. North Coast Kayak Adventures from Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes are also available.


Posted in: Sailing

Cottages with an outdoor shower

April 14, 2016 No Comments


The sun’s out, it’s a perfect day for the beach, but you only own one wetsuit. And it’s wet. Most probably because you spent yesterday playing in the surf and plan on spending tomorrow the same way. It’s a recurring problem for Cornish Holiday Cottages.


Dragging a cold, damp wetsuit over your limbs is not going to inspire a love of the sea in anyone. While us adults might be able to suck it up, children are definitely not going to be enamoured by a clammy neoprene clamour. A soggy wetsuit takes ages to wiggle into and immediately gives you the chills.


The other option is to have a family’s worth of wetsuits hanging up in the bathroom and a bath or shower full of sand underneath. Those wetsuits need a good rinsing after being in the sea to keep them at their best and the bath is a good place to give them a good dowsing – this does tend to lead to clogged drains though.


Of course, there are better places to prep your swim wear. In fact, the thought of all that outside inside, dirtying up the sinks and tiles will give some people nightmares; especially dragged through by tiny feet. But that shouldn’t let that temper your love of being outside and some of our holiday cottage owners feel exactly the same way, having created designated wetsuit washing, drying and storing.

Carrick Treath.Feock.Holiday home (41 of 75)

Carrick Treath is the perfect home for the water sport lover. It’s south facing bedrooms and dining room offer an unparalleled view of the glistening Carrick Roads. And at the bottom of the garden there’s Loe Beach and Loe Water Sports centre for all your sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding requirements. Back at the property there’s a wet room with a double shower for washing the beach from yourself and plenty of airy space to hang your suit.


Chy-An-Dour sits on the banks of the Helford Estuary and whether you’ve been surfing over on the north coast, or are scampering back from the river after a paddle , the heated outdoor shower will expunge the sand and salt from children, dogs or swimwear, before using the washing line to dry out your gear ready for tomorrow .

Roseladen Cottage. Falmouth. holiday (103 of 104)

Roseladen Cottage’s cosy living room and large kitchen make it the perfect spot for couples on a surfing holiday. Attached to the side of this idyllic farm cottage is an outdoor drying area with hooks for hanging wetsuits and space for dunking buckets, wellies and muddy leads. Set at the top of an idyllic country valley and a stone’s throw from Falmouth, you may find you spend so much time exploring what’s on your doorstep, you never actually make it up to the north coast.

primrose cottage.mawnan smith (130 of 140)

Primrose Cottage’s new porch includes an outdoor heated shower perfect for washing down you, your dog and your wetsuit. Just inside the porch you will then find the utility room with plenty of space to hang your wet gear up to dry for the next day. Then you can cuddle up by the Aga for a hot chocolate after your days adventures.






Falmouth Week

February 6, 2016 No Comments


Falmouth Week: it’s kind of a big deal round these parts. You could say it’s the jewel in Falmouth’s summer. Half sailing regatta, half a celebration of summer, the week sees both locals and visitors alike letting their hair down with an array of family friendly events during the day and a variety of opportunities to get your glad rags on and paint the town red in the evening. Attracting over 100,000 visitors (80,000 more than your average summer week), the event is a massive boost for Falmouth and a fine reason to book a Cornish holiday cottage in the centre of Fal Town. In fact, some of you have already begun booking!

While a lot of sailing regattas can feel quite cliquey to those not in the boating community, Falmouth week is as inclusive as they come. There’s a carnival that weaves its way through the town to the beat of samba drums, fireworks and a gravity defying appearance from the Red Arrows. The atmosphere is almost Mediterranean.


The roots of Falmouth Week go all the way back to 1837 and it has now become the biggest sailing event in the South West. 450 yachts race over eight days on the picturesque waters of the Carrick Roads and Falmouth Bay. Keel boats, dinghies and traditional craft all have their own classes, with the larger yachts engaged in the 25 mile champagne race – no prizes for guessing what the winners get.

With all those boats in the water, the River Fal blooms with the swaying colours of sails. There are loads of great vantage points for watching the races. From Flushing to Tremayne Quay, each race has its viewpoints. Keep your eyes on our blog nearer the time for our list of spectator spots. It’s also immensely important to scope out the best places to watch the Red Arrows deliver their dazzling display above the glittering Falmouth waters.

The Moor and the Events Square become centre points for the daytime festivities. Local musicians play throughout the week and Falmouth Art Gallery setting up workshops and interactive exhibits. Climbing walls are set up and days are given over to scientific experimentation. Whatever your family’s interests, there’s something to get stuck into.

Last year’s week was one of the best yet – partly thanks to the Outlaw Food and Drink Festival, who brought a much needed foodie focus. There’s street food from some of Cornwall’s finest vendors, so make sure you grab some free samples.

As the sun sets each evening, the Events Square comes alive with jive dancing, Caribbean nights and performances from 80s and 90s pop bands. Each ticketed event comes with its own implied fancy dress theme, making the streets of Falmouth buzz with a bizarre mixture of 50s wear, grass skirts and 90s fashion.

It’s a great time to visit Cornwall and experience Falmouth at its best. The beaches, bike trails and quaint villages are all still there, only Falmouth Week adds some extra fizz to your holiday.

Holiday Cottages with Moorings

September 1, 2015 No Comments

It’s up there with the best of dream holidays: stepping out of your front door, strolling down to the shore and launching your own boat into the waters. Setting out for days on the river straight from your Cornish holiday cottage, avoiding the roads and towns. It’s a romantic picture. Having your own mooring gives you that extra sense of freedom and connects you more intimately to the water.

Here at Cornish Holiday Cottages we are lucky enough to be able to offer have a number of homes with places to moor and launch kayaks, rowing boats or small tenders – all within the Helford Estuary. The Helford is a yachtsman’s paradise, completely unspoilt with sheltered waters and there is an extensive network of footpaths connecting many of the villages along its shore.
So if you have your own small boat, or want to hire one locally and have it waiting for you just outside your door, we have just the cottage for you.

shearwater-port navas-helford-cornwall-cottage-hero

Shearwater, Port Navas

Shearwater holds a special place in the hearts of us all here at Cornish Holiday Cottages as it was the holiday home of choice, of our founder Mrs Ruth Austen. Situated just a few feet from Port Navas creek and with its own mooring, Shearwater offers the perfect opportunity for exploring the Helford River by boat. Rowing boats, small sailing dinghies, kayaks and motor cruisers can be roped up just in front of the cottage, at Shearwater’s quay – just make sure you check the tide times before you with to head out.

Port Navas is excellent for sailing, motor-boating or rowing and a perfect base for those wishing to explore the Helford River and its upper reaches, including Frenchman’s Creek, immortalised by the late Daphne Du Maurier. There is nothing quite like seeing the area from the water, enjoying a picnic on Tremayne Quay at sundown or dropping into a waterside pub for a pint of ale and some fresh seafood.



Calamansac is a private 50 acre estate of meadow garden and woodland which forms the western headland of Port Navas Creek and overlooks the Helford River. There are 3 self-catering holiday homes to rent on the estate – East Wing (sleeps 11), West Wing (sleeps 9) and Sail Loft (sleeps 5) – accommodating up to 25 people in total and providing a unique holiday setting for large groups or as individual holiday homes.

Direct access to both the Helford River and Port Navas Creek provides a unique opportunity for sailing. A private road through the woods leads to the slipway, safe anchorage and a boat house. Visitors to Calamansac are also given free temporary membership to the Port Navas Yacht and Social Club.


Rose Cottages 1, 2 and 3, Durgan

Durgan is a small, unspoilt fishing hamlet on the north bank of the Helford River principally owned and managed by the National Trust. Cornish Holiday Cottages has three cottages to offer in Durgan with use of a mooring, sleeping between a maximum of 4 to 5 people. There is space for one boat or kayak per cottage in the boat park, which is situated just behind the cottages, near to the pebbly shores of Durgan beach: safe for swimming and ideal for boating, windsurfing and sand castle building.

There is also one deep water mooring available at the west end of Durgan bay to accommodate boats up to 45′ long which is available to the guests of Rose Cottages. If you would like to keep your sailing dinghy (Laser, Wayfarer etc) on the mooring, there is a charge of £30 per week, whilst for boats above 20′ the charge is £60. The owners also have a small rowing boat, which is available for £50 per week.


The International Sea Shanty Festival

June 13, 2015 No Comments


The Cornish love a good song: any excuse to dust off the pipes can and will be taken. In The Blue Anchor in Helston, the regulars are even prone to spontaneous bouts of beautiful, melancholy harmonising as they prop up the bar. Music and song has always been an important part of the county’s culture: whether it be miner, fishermen or farmer, after the work was done there were always stories to tell, songs to sing and a few pints to drink.


In celebration of this we have the International Sea Shanty Festival in Falmouth this weekend. Expect over 40 shanty groups, 22 venues and 250 hours of shanty singing. The town will be filled with music, singing and infused with a great community spirit across the weekend, from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June. Groups come from far and wide including Netherlands, France, USA and right across the UK.


There are 51 acts taking part which had to be whittled down from over 100 bands applying to take part. The event is completely free with special stages on the Events Square and Custom House Quay. Other venues will include pubs, churches, Falmouth Art Gallery, the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and Princess Pavilion.


Town manager and Shanty committee chairman, Richard Gates told The West Briton: “We were really pleased with the number of groups wanting to take part and it was a very difficult process to slimming down the programme.

“The interest alone really signifies the festival’s growing success and its position as one of the biggest and best festivals of its kind in the world.”


Some even say that it is the biggest festival of shanties on the planet. Maybe Mr Gates is just being modest.


The Festival was founded in 2003 by Falmouth Shout, a group of singers whose mission is to keep alive the history of Tall Ships and the days of sail by performing sea shanties, songs of the sea and Cornish songs. It provides a platform where that heritage of storytelling through song comes alive. It’s a great way to soak up the true atmosphere of Falmouth’s seafaring past and you’ll find it hard to stop your feet tapping along to the infectious rhythms. Especially as it now takes place alongside the Falmouth Classics Regatta; a must for boat lovers and a great way to bring the town and sailing scene together.


The Festival’s aims are to raise money for the RNLI and to preserve and promote the maritime heritage of the area and a lot of the fundraising is done by the Skinner’s Brewery mascot, Betty Stogs, a large Cornishman in drag, wielding a bucket in one hand and a pewter tankard in the other.


Writing this has had Cornish Holiday Cottages wondering about the origin of the word shanty, being educated sorts. Its origins are a little hazy, but it is often said to have come from the French word, chantez, the imperative form of the verb “to sing”. With the rhythmic beat keeping the teamwork synchronized, singing shanties helped sailors go about their tasks on board like hauling ropes or raising the anchor.  The perfect accompaniment to a sailing regatta then.

The Joy of Sailing

January 5, 2015 No Comments


Casting off from Mylor Harbour and sailing out into Falmouth Bay is one of life’s great pleasures. The feeling of escape associated with the slow shrinking of land into the distance, is like nothing any land-dwelling activity can offer. Sailboats conjure up romantic visions: blossoming sails arching in the wind or silhouettes of boats against the fading sun at dusk make it easy to think about chucking it all in and heading off into foreign seas.

In reality though, a sailboat is a few tons of fibreglass and steel you do need a little bit of skill to operate. We have a boat in our family. What started off as Dad’s little retirement project quickly became a family affair: he’s the skipper and we’re the crew, mostly. There have been some epic adventures around the Rock of Gibraltar and there have been many a leisurely day spent cruising the Carrick Roads and Helford River. There have also been the days where I’ve nearly run us aground cruising up the river, paying too much attention to the wind direction instead of the depth gauge.

My favourite part of sailing is pushing the boat as fast it will go. Essentially making a boat go at speed means trimming the sails so they are the right shape and angle for the wind that’s pushing across them. There are a variety of ways of controlling the sails: bending the mast, flattening the sail bottom to make it curve and hook the wind or a billion other things. But the best thing is that you are reacting to the environment around you and harnessing its power. It makes you feel awake, alive and in tune with your surroundings.

Sailing involves so much more than just understanding how a boat uses the wind to move through water. Sailing requires a certain appreciation for what’s around you. If you don’t respect whatever amount of water you’re sailing in, whether it’s a pond, river, lake, or ocean, nature will not be nice just for you. The trick to treating your surrounds with respect while sailing is to constantly stay vigilant so that if the wind begins to shift, you can stay on top of it and alter your course accordingly so that you aren’t caught off guard later. Of course, it’s not hard to keep your eyes peeled when you are surrounded by such beautiful views.


At Cornish Holiday Cottages, one of the joys we take from boating is the opportunity it gives us to connect as a family. There’s no TV or internet out at sea, there’s no mobile phone signal. There’s just us and none of the daily clutter that widens the gap between us. Some of the most memorable parts of sailing as a family are of us drifting, sail down, as we tuck into lunch under the sun, nothing but the sound of the waves lapping at the hull and the lulling rock of the boat.

Boat ownership has allowed us to avoid the holiday throngs of Falmouth in August, too. While most were fighting through the street traffic during the Tall Ships weekend we were at sea, racing the ships, drawing up alongside them and, later on, admiring their hulls, anchor down, with a bottle of Prosecco, celebrating a birthday.

If you’re keen to get some sailing in yourself whilst in your Cornish holiday cottage, there are many places you can charter a yacht or get involved in a sailing course. Falriver.co.uk have a pretty good guide for boat hire.

There’s not only boat hiring though, for those of you wanting your first foray on the waters, there’s the Mylor Sailing School, who offer introductory courses, helping you to get afloat.

Or if you really fancy a treat why not go for a trip on a beautiful old sailing boat, Pinuccia is owned by the Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes and runs half or full day sails from May to September (photographed at the top).


Tall Ships 2014 – Parade of Sail

September 4, 2014 No Comments

The whole of Falmouth has been looking forward to the Tall Ships Festival for over a year. And it did not disappoint!

The Parade of Sail on the Sunday filled the whole bay with the most boats I have ever seen on the water. They sailed across the bay and got ready for the start or the race, with lots of boats joining in for a good view from the water. The coast was covered in spectators, watching all the boats parade along, a real spectacle.

We would like to thank the organisers of the festival for we all had a brilliant time, and we know all of our guests did too.

Tall Ships Festival begins!

August 29, 2014 No Comments

A beautiful afternoon for the start of the Tall Ship Festival here in Falmouth, Emily went down with her children (6&4) to explore some ships at the docks.

Sailing on the Fal River

June 25, 2014 No Comments

It’s hard to miss the sailing boats here in Falmouth, with racing on every day of the week except Mondays. They are a beautiful sight! Here are a few photos from last night.pin-8 pin-1 pin-2 pin-6 pin-7