Trespasser in Time: An exploration of Frenchman’s Creek

In the unusual lockdown world in which we live, are you reading more novels and revisiting old favourites, like I am? One of my oldy favourites is ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ by Daphne DuMaurier. So evocative of the Cornish coast and stunning countryside around the Helford River.

‘…the sound of the tide on the mud flats, the dark sky, the dark water, the shiver of the trees behinds us and the shadows they cast before them, and the smell of the young bracken and the moss’.

Last year, during our autumn visit to The Captain’s House, we explored the Helford and the infamous creek named after Jean-Benoit Aubrey, the Frenchman who stole the heart of a lady from English high society in Du Maurier’s classic. 

Wandering down the tree tumbled path, overlooking the muddy creek, with its meandering tracks of water as flat as glass, on a cool autumn sunny afternoon. I felt like I was Dona creeping down to find her Frenchman’s pirate ship high and dry. 

Our only companions in the still of the afternoon were the white egrets perched in the bare branches overhanging the water’s edge, herons standing in the mud fishing, and curlews with their curved beaks wading along the edge.

Rounding a corner of the woody path with flickering light shining through the leaves and branches we looked down and saw a deckless hulk beached in a small cove. Could it be La Mouette, the Breton Pirate Ship, sunk into the mud?

Such fun to let the imagination run while relishing these footpaths and ancient tracks.  

To enjoy this walk from The Captain’s House, Falmouth you can drive to the Ferry Boat Inn, at the Helford Passage, and take the little passenger ferry across to Helford village. Or you can drive all the way round and start from the village.

On this route, you also pass Kestle Barton, an ancient Cornish farmstead with an art gallery, gardens, wildflower meadow and a small café.

Helford is heaven on Earth. Where anything is possible.

Here is the National Trust guide to the circular walk starting from Helford Village.

Frenchman’s Creek, looking out to the Helford River
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