Helston is situated at the northern end of the Lizard Peninsula approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of Penzance and 9 miles (14 km) south-west of Falmouth. The former Stannary and cattle market town is best known for the annual Furry Dance (known locally as the Flora Dance), said to originate from the medieval period.
Helston’s timeline stretches back a long way. The Saxons were here in the 6th century, King John granted a charter in 1201, making the town the second oldest in Cornwall, and through the centuries Helston, as so many major towns in the country, prospered on the back on tin mining and later with the coming of the railway and the boom in early tourism.
Reasons to visit Helston
Today the town has a lively, friendly atmosphere with a busy main street and plenty of historical attractions that keep the town’s heritage alive and as you walk past the thick set miner’s cottages, numerous pasty shops and old pubs, there’s nice traditional feel to the place. The boating lake and park are great for families, plus there's a skate park and cafe.
Take the fascinating town trail and go back in time. Twelve points of interest illustrate Helston’s heritage from the old well where townsfolk used to wash their clothes to the centrepiece monument erected in celebration of local hero Humphrey Millett Grylls whose benevolent actions kept a local tin mine open saving 1200 jobs. There is a free guide leaflet available from museum or library.
On the road to Porthleven, you'll come to the Penrose Estate where you can talk the 7 mile circular walk down to the coast skirting Loe Pool, the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall separated from the sea by a long sandbar. Start from the free car park in the Amenity Area.
The nearby Goonhilly satellite station, currently closed, is to be given a new lease of life soon when government funding will turn it into a space and communication centre, plans are afoot to upgrade the existing antennas and reopen the visitor centre. Watch this space.
Things to do in and around Helston
- The Blue Anchor - an historical pub in the centre of Helston dating back to the 15th century
- Great beaches nearby - Porthleven, Gunwalloe, Poldhu Cove, Mullion cove and many more
- Visit the Helston Museum a treasure trove of memories and curiosties
- Follow the Helston Town Trail and discover more about the history of the town. Starting at The Guildhall, the trail passes by all the local landmarks and reveals the fascinating and varied history
- Explore the Penrose Estate (National Trust), a beautiful place for families to walk, cycle and explore - with woodland, stunning coastal paths and views over Loe Bar. It is also an area of Special Scientific Interest and a haven for wildlife and birds. Paths are tarmaced and accessible and begin in the car park opposite Coronation Park
- Take a ride on the Helston Railway - an ongoing restoration project with regular steam ups