Trail Running in Cornwall: St Anthony-in-Meneage & Helford

It’s been a long time coming but I finally made it round a corner of Cornwall that I’ve been itching to explore.

Helford River with a small dark bay at St Anthony-in-Meneage

This isn’t my first attempt to run this 6 mile Cornish route covering St Anthony-in-Meneage. I came here pre lockdown but barely covered a mile before my calf started complaining. To be honest, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to return. Literally, where has the time gone?

Given where St Anthony-in-Meneage is and where I live, it’s a fair trek to this part of Cornwall. I was determined though. I prepared myself for an an early start on one Saturday in June, and it was well worth it.

Here’s a map of the route. Don’t forget, you can find it on Strava as well.

I started this Cornish trail run in Helford village, and parked in the main car park by Holy Mackerel Cafe. It’s easy to find as there’s only one road in and out of Helford. This run covers road and trail, with most of it running parallel to the Helford River.

Holy Mackerel cafe in Helford Cornwall
a public footpath sign amongst high grass with a cloudy sky
a dry yellowing fe=ield with lines and areas of green and the Helford River in the distance

Heading out to Manaccan

The first part of this route leaves Helford behind, heading out briefly on the road before taking the public footpath. This stretches across a few fields before meeting the main road. There’s a short road section before running downhill to Manaccan. I’d never heard of Manaccan before; I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce it!

I’ve since been told, so now I know.

a white picket gate and fence in front of a white cottage and door with a high bush to the side
a white building with a pale blue door and black metal gate

I can only say that Manaccan is a sweet, quaint village with its own primary school and one cute cottage after another. I ran down the hill saying, “oh, that’s nice”, “that’s lovely too”, and “so cute”.

Manaccan is the epitome of a chocolate box village. This particular route doesn’t involve heading into the heart of the village. Instead, I took the path to the right of St Manaccus and St Dunstan church and quickly found myself in countryside again.

a yellow and green field with more fields in the distance and a grey sky

What a treat! The views here look across an expanse of fields. Although it was a grey old day, nature’s greens and vibrancy shone through. The path by the field naturally led to a gentle descent into sheltered woodland.

Now, I actually took a wrong turn here. The woodland trail linked up with a wider flat path. Go left here, not right, like me. I soon realised I’d made a mistake when I reached the road. Still, it gave me the opportunity gaze longingly at some of the properties lining the Helford River, all with their own little boats. (One can dream!)

a white house on the edge of a creek at low tide
2 white detached houses surrounded by trees on the edge of a creek near St Anthony-in-Meneage

This part of the route is leafy, shaded and hugs the creek. As I ran along, I could feel the difference in the air – it’s crisper and cleaner. I feel it everytime I’m in woodland and it’s wonderful. This was a nice flat trail to run on and I soon arrived at St Anthony-in-Meneage.

a muddy creek at low tide near St Anthony-in-Meneage with a bright blue and red boat

St Anthony-in-Meneage

St Anthony-in-Meneage is one of those sleepy little places along the Helford River, probably overlooked by most. It certainly has an undiscovered or forgotten feel to it – in a good way, of course. It’s a place to rest and recuperate with a good book and a glass of wine. There are lots of boats moored along the creek, which is also a good place to launch a SUP.

Penny Sherwood from The Great Cornish Outdoors in a Lonley Goat running cap and pink vest smiling while standing by the creek at St Anthony-in-Meneage
St Anthony-in-Meneage on the Helford River
Helford River at St Anthony-in-Meneage at low tide with a muddy bank and some seaweed

As it’s out on a limb and with no through road, you can guarantee peace and quiet here. There’s no pub or shop, the nearest is the New Inn back in Manaccan. You can hire boats and dinghies here, and for a small fee, you can launch your own.

Historically, monks lived here (possibly where the name comes from. The Cornish word “menegh” means monk). Today it has a dinky population of less than 200.

During this run, I stopped for a bit on the little beach. The tide was low, but don’t get excited. The creek and river bank at St Anthony-in-Meneage is not a place to lay your towel, sunbathe or have a picnic. The ground is dark and mud-like, with stones. You’ll be pleased to know there are a number of more appealing options en route, that I’ve yet to tell you about.

I didn’t stop for a huge amount of time. It was good to visit and run through St Anthony-in-Meneage. It’s a place I’ve been curious about for ages.

a pebble painted blue with a red sailing boat, lying on the grass
The Helford River and Cornish coastline

The last stretch along the Helford

Leaving St Anthony-in-Meneage, my running route took me through a field. There was an option of taking the headland route, I really couldn’t say no. It was pretty but I realised that it was a short loop that took me back to where I started! If I had known, I probably would have given it a miss 😂.

From here, there was a field or 2 to go through before I was hugging the Helford River once more, heading back to Helford village.

Ponsence Cove in Cornwall on the Helford Passage

As I made my way along, I was waiting for the little coves I knew I’d come across. These are proper little gems that tend to be safe and peaceful. The first is Ponsence Cove, followed by Bosahan Cove. Both are on the edge of Bosahan Estate (private land). These coves have woodland behind them, offering some shelter.

Small Bosahan Cove on Helford with green coastal plants and a grey sky

While I’ve seen people on both beaches, they are never packed (they’re quite small too). On this day there was no one around. Absolute bliss! I gave my legs a little rest, walking on the soft sand as the water calmy lapped away. From here, you can see the other side of the Helford and loads of boats. In a place like this, it’s totally possibly to let your worries and stresses ebb away.

After Bosahan Cove, it wasn’t long before I reached my car.

Which means one thing – a post run coffee!

I’ve lots of running routes in Cornwall for you to experience. If you like riverside running, try this one that covers Tresillian and Malpas. You may also be interested in 8 riverside walks in Cornwall, all tried and tested!

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Author: plbedford

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