The Helford estuary is one of the most beautiful waterways in the UK and you see it in its full glory from the water. You can hire a small motor boat from the Helford Passage, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn. No experience necessary. They are quite straightforward to drive, and the Helford is quite easy to navigate with little experience of boats and things.

We headed east and turned into Port Navas where the sides of the creek have been colonised by glorious holiday homes. It is as if the rich, lemming-like, rushed for the water, stopped at the edge and built a house. If you want to see how the other half live, or at least holiday, a half-hour cruise passing their front doors is quite an eye opener.

The next creek along is Polwheveral which we have now renamed Curlew River. Being less developed it is the home of hundreds of birds. We had never seen and heard so many curlews, oyster catchers, herons and seagulls, and probably lots of other species we couldn’t recognise.

Then we pottered south and into the mouth of the famous Frenchman’s Creek where we drifted down it’s centre avoiding the branches and logs sticking up in the water from the mud below. We felt the magic of this place that must have inspired Daphne du Maurier to create her intrigue and romance all those years ago.

In the centre of the Helford channel, just opposite Frenchman’s Creek, we stopped the engine and drifted with the outgoing tide to eat our lunch – the sun was out, the water was flat calm and all we could hear were birds. We were the only boat moving on the water on this lovely October day and we felt very privileged to be there.

We think there are few better places for a picnic than afloat on the Helford.

We hired a boat from the beach just by The Ferry Boat Inn at Helford Passage. But if you don’t want to drive over there and do your own navigation on a boat you can get one of the many Helford tour boats that leave from Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth. Take a trip across Falmouth Bay and into the beautiful Helford.

Drifting down the Helford River by boat.