Mention Boscastle these days and most people think of the dramatic flood that put the village front and centre of the national news in August of 2004. While that day won’t be forgotten any time soon, Boscastle has made a full recovery and is one of the country’s most striking examples of coastal beauty and historic seaside architecture – it epitomises the Cornish harbour village.
Three rivers come together in Boscastle; they’ve carved a deep valley into the coast which shelters the village. The harbour is particularly spectacular with headlands that rear up, rocky and steep, on either side of the river as it widens and flows into the sea. With the Medieval harbour wall it can feel as if the landscape hasn’t changed in centuries.
Further up the valley you’ll stumble across Norman churches, ancient Celtic crosses and the almost-vanished remains of a castle – the long history of Boscastle is evident despite the worst that the weather throws at it time and time again.
The atmosphere here just begs you to slow down and let time move at a more gentle pace but that’s not to say that the village has been left behind. Food seems to be a bit of an obsession in Boscastle, with three pubs and at least four cafes, all competing to serve the best local produce. In October, the Boscastle Food and Arts Festival, now in its 8th year, showcases Cornish talent and features Michelin-starred chefs among the line-up – the weekend has developed a huge following.
If you (or your children) tend to groan at the thought of another museum, Boscastle’s Museum of Witchcraft might inspire you to make an exception. No tacky attempts at spookiness, just fascinating artefacts, some of which are genuinely disturbing! The museum was founded over 50 years ago and the collection it houses has grown into a vast array of objects you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.
The term ‘unspoilt’ is bandied around all too often, but Boscastle still qualifies for the description. This is where you’ll get a real sense of Cornwall’s back story, of the pleasure and pain of living on the very edge of the land.
Museum of Witchcraft
The Harbour, Boscastle, Cornwall, PL35 0HD, 01840 250111