If you long for drama, mystery and things out of this world your first visit to Boscastle will be a memorable one. The windy road down to the car park will set the goosebumps going and give you a taste of things to come. Most of this historic fishing village is situated above the car park, so if you are feeling energetic the steep lanes and characterful cottages are well worth exploring.
Since the flood of 2004, the car park has been enlarged and rebuilt with improved flood defenses along the Valency River and many buildings rebuilt or restored. You can learn all about the great flood in the National Trust visitor centre, where you will also find a dog-friendly cafe which also has some pleasant courtyard seating plus a gift shop. Boscastle is famous for its Witchcraft Museum, much of which was destroyed in the flood, but has now been restored. The 300 year old quirky Pixie Shop that was situated directly opposite the museum was sadly completely washed away in the flood and has been rebuilt as it was prior to the disaster complete with the low sagging roof. It is now the delightful Harbour Lights Tea Room.
Above: the Pixie Shop before the flood
Boscastle’s small fishing harbour is reached by a dramatic fjord-like inlet between towering cliffs with an island at the entrance. It doesn’t take too much imagination to visualise a pirate sailing ship out at sea! The sea is often rough, waves beating themselves on the rocks jutting into the inlet and dashing against the harbour wall. Be careful if you do stand on the harbour wall – waves frequently wash over them in heavy seas. If you are lucky enough you can hear a bang, like cannon fire, every so often when a wave smashes into a blow hole, known as the Devil’s Bellows, in the cliff below Penally Point. The cliff path either side of the harbour will reward you will amazing views at every angle – you won’t put your camera away. There is plenty of bird life to spot and wild flowers too, sometimes seals and dolphins if your are lucky.
Try and make it up to the white Coastguards look-out to the east, the views are outstanding. Take the westerly path close to the edge of the cliff and you can clamber over the sloping slates and sit and enjoy the views back towards the harbour at Penally Point. Here is a rock known as Profile Rock which resembles Queen Victoria.
If you want a gentler stroll away from the drama of the harbour, the Valency river valley path is peaceful and calming, but still with a little frission when you remember that this river delivered the flood in 2004. A circular walk around the valley will take in Minster Church which is situated on a Celtic site dating back 1500 years. The Church itself has origins from 1150 and was built by William de Bottreaux whose Norman family built Bottreaux’s Castle – the site of which can still be seen in Boscastle, and indeed gave its name to the town. Minster Church was restored in Tudor and Victorian times. Just outside the graveyard you will find the grave of a witch – Joan Wytte, known as the “Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin Town”.
While you are in the area, a visit to Tintagel is a must for yet more legends, castles and dramatic cliffs, just 4 miles along the coast road.
Below are photos of the historic buildings in the steep lanes around the upper part of Boscastle
Below: Forrabury Church, near the cliff top, well worth walking up to then out along the cliff path for spectacular views. You may spot seals or dolphins!
Below: The coastguard look out
Links to more information:
Boscastle & Tintagel: Boscastle & Tintagel Information
Boscastle to Minster Church Walk: Minster Church Walk
Harbour Lights Tea Room History: Harbour Lights Tea Room / Pixie Shop