11th May 2016
There are many sides to Boscastle on Cornwall’s far north coast: picturesque fishing village, medieval settlement, artist’s muse. It all makes for a very interesting and beautiful place for a self catering holiday.
Once offering shelter to sailors along a wild and intimidating stretch of coast, Boscastle’s dramatic coastline and quaint old buildings are the main attraction. The latter is immediately apparent as you begin to wander around, with characterful cobbled streets, wonky roofs, stone buildings and watermills lining the river before leading you towards the ocean.
Today, a few handsome day boats bob in the harbour. But Boscastle was once a thriving port – in one year alone nearly 200 ships called on their way through delivering supplies from including timber from as far as field as Canada.
Boscastle’s tortuous harbour entrance means that sailing vessels always required assistance to enter, usually by ‘hobbler’ boats manned by oarsman and other men on shore tethered to the boat with ropes.
Goods were eventually hauled up its steep hills by teams of horses once kept in what is now the youth hostel. Other buildings such as the lime kiln and blacksmith’s forge can still be seen around the harbour today.
You can discover more about Boscastle’s history and dramatic landscape which is all detailed in the National Trust’s fantastic modern visitor centre located in the heart of the village. You also be surprised to learn how much community life is thriving since the devastating flood a decade ago. There are plenty of craft shops and cafes to visit, feeding and watering artists who have been inspired by its remoteness and rugged beauty.
With King Arthur’s Tintagel just down the coast, this is also a land of myth and legend. Housing the world’s largest collection of witchcraft artefacts and regalia, the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle has been entertaining visitors for more than fifty years.
Walking towards the sea, the imposing cliffs of Penally Point and Willapark guard either side of Boscastle harbour. Watching the boiling seas around the Island of Merchard between the two – and the two blowholes spitting out at low tide – it’s not hard to feel the otherworldly aura of this stretch of coast.
The best way to finish a walk-through Boscastle is to continue along the coast path, past stomach dropping steep cliffs, up to the white-washed lookout tower. From here there are fantastic views of the coast all the way down to Tintagel – guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away.