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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.