Boscastle is a great starting point for a variety of walks. A stroll along the north side of the harbour and along to Penally Point is packed with interest and wonderful coastal views. The only safe haven on the long and dangerous stretch of coast from Port Isaac to Bude, Boscastle’s tightly sheltered harbour once bustled with ketches and schooners. Navigation into the harbour’s narrow winding channel was (and remains) tricky, as can readily be appreciated from Penally Point or Penally Hill above. Larger vessels were ‘hobbled’ in by eight oared boats.
Nonetheless, cargoes from local ports, Bristol, South Wales and even
North America were offloaded on the Elizabethan quay in considerable quantities – 200 vessels were recorded here in one year alone. Trade declined after the railway reached North Cornwall in 1893. Today, small fishing boats and pleasure craft predominate and safety is much improved with Willapark Lookout Station. Originally built as a summer house in the early 19th century, the building later served as a Coastguard lookout and then a folly, before it was leased to the National Coastwatch in 2002.
Returning to the harbour, there is much of interest, including the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. Not to be missed, the National Trust’s Visitor Centre, has a fascinating video of the terrible 2004 Boscastle Flood. You may like to extend your walk by following the easy and scenic riverside path from the car park. Under normal conditions, the river Valency appears benign and keeps well within its banks. However… look up and see how the steep sided river valley could funnel huge quantities of water rapidly into Boscastle after heavy rain.
Terrain: Easy, level path along harbour and Valency Valley; gentle path to Penally Point; stepped path up Penally Hill
Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 111; Landranger 190; Harvey’s SWCP 1
Refreshments: Choice of cafes and pubs, including National Trust café/shop/visitor centre, 01840 250010
Public Toilets: At start
Public Transport: First Kernow 94/95/96, Truro/Bude route daily, 0871 2002233 travelinesw.com