20th July 2018
Picturesque Boscastle sits on the dramatic North coast of Cornwall, where two rivers meet the sea. This little inlet was naturally shaped into the perfect escape from rough seas for local fishermen and maybe even smugglers in days gone by. Today it’s a quintessentially Cornish village, a haven for walkers enjoying the South West Coast Path, and for those that want to dip their toes in the water while enjoying the beach that appears in the harbour at low tide.
This cute little village is actually pretty tough, having been decimated by severe flooding back in 2004. Looking at the river today it is hard to believe it could ever have been so destructive.
Harbourside Cottage miraculously escaped the floods, sitting just a few steps from the riverside on a quiet side street of character cottages. This cosy coastal hideaway sleeps 2 and also welcomes dogs, who can enjoy the secluded decked garden along with you, or take a short stroll to the river for their daily paddle. The property itself has everything the weary traveller needs on arrival, including plenty of tea and coffee and fresh milk, perfect for a quick cuppa in the garden before heading back out to explore.
Once we’d had our fill of our first harbour views, we headed back to the cottage for a barbeque in the garden, making use of the fully equipped kitchen before retiring for an early night in anticipation of the following day’s adventures. The double bedroom at Harbourside Cottage is spacious for a quirky cottage and has views out to the harbour. The high quality white bedlinen and soft fluffy pillows were so inviting and we soon dropped off to the distant sound of the running river.
In the morning we enjoyed the compact yet spacious feel of the cottage while getting ready for the day ahead. We almost wished it was winter so we could make use of the wood burning stove- this would be such a cosy retreat in the colder months. In the summer the garden becomes a sun trap and is the perfect private space. The quirky decorative pieces and quality furniture and furnishings really make this place feel like home.
The first thing you should do when arriving in Boscastle is to walk down the length of the harbour walls and take a peak over the cliffs to what’s beyond- you might be lucky enough to catch the gig boats rowing in and out or a fishing boat or hardy kayaker navigating the deep channel. Alfie the dog very much enjoyed a splash in the harbour!
We also took the opportunity to explore the shops and cafes, heading first to the National Trust Visitor’s Centre which has an eye-opening exhibition on the floods of 2004, and an adjoining café with outdoor terrace and delicious cakes, perfect for elevenses. We also took a 10 minute drive to nearby Tintagel to take a look at the ruined castle, commonly thought to be associated with King Arthur. The whole place has an aura of mystery and intrigue due to the associations with Merlin and witchcraft, which spreads all the way back along the coast to Boscastle which is home to the National Witchcraft Museum. We couldn’t resist a visit here when we got back, and it was indeed quite spooky!
Another must-do is to head out for a coastal walk on the South West Coast Path. Coast path walks from here can be challenging but you will be rewarded for your efforts with some spectacular scenery. If you’re bringing your four-legged friend make sure to keep them on a lead near the cliff edges. We headed up to the coast watch station on the headland, a 20 minute walk from the harbour heading west towards Tintagel, from which we enjoyed far reaching views before heading back to the village.
If it’s beaches you’re after, head for the nearest secluded bay at Bossiney, just a 10 minute drive away. This secret spot is only accessible at low tide and requires a bit of a hike from the nearest parking spot, but when you make it down to the beach you will be amazed at the unspoilt beauty and private feel- only the intrepid make it here! A little bit further along is Trebarwith Strand, another lesser known spot only accessible at low tide, but well-appointed with a pub, café and surf school. Or you could take a 20 minute drive in the other direction to Widemouth Bay where you can enjoy plenty of golden sand all day long.
Directly opposite the witchcraft museum is the very crooked Harbour Light tea garden, perfect for a cream tea or a pasty lunch amongst the hustle and bustle of the day trippers, or for a more relaxed, away-from-it-all feel you can head to The Riverside Hotel which has a secluded riverside terrace for alfresco eating. Dinner here was a very laid back affair, with lots of fresh, locally caught sea food on the menu. Top-notch friendly service, and dog-friendly in the daytime and out on the terrace too.
There are many other options in Boscastle, including the 16th century Wellington Hotel, Sharon’s Plaice for freshly made take away pizza or fish and chips, The Toby Jug café for a pit stop lunch and traditional Cornish pub The Cobweb.