A sheltered harbour on a rugged coast
The picturesque harbour of Boscastle is one of Cornwall’s most romantic places. The long narrow valley runs down to a twisting rocky entrance hiding the raging sea beyond
As you wander around the harbour you will notice the quaint old buildings which have been converted into pubs, restaurants and coffee shops. Look out for the wonky rooftops and crooked cottages, they have real character. The limekiln and storage buildings give a brief reminder of Boscastle's industrial heritage as both a port and a fishing village. Hard to imaging much of what you see was damaged by floods in 2004.
For fantastic coastal views take the left hand path alongside the harbour which leads to a slate platform where you can see the ‘blowhole’ an hour before or after low tide, shooting a horizontal waterspout halfway across the harbour entrance if the conditions are right. You can follow the coast path up to Willapark, where the National Coastwatch have a watch-house high on the headland.
The path on the other side of the harbour leads past the Witchcraft Museum out onto Penally Point, again this provides walkers with fantastic views but can be difficult underfoot in places.
Hardy and St Juliot's
Follow in the footsteps of the famous novelist Thomas Hardy by taking the path up the Valency Valley to St. Juliot Church. It was here in the early 1870s, a few years before he became an author, that he met his sweetheart Emma Gifford whilst he was working as an architect on the church tower.
Hardy would incorporate several locations around Boscastle and St Juliot into his novel ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’ based on his love affair with Emma. He also featured Lesnewth Church, which sits on the western side of the valley. Many years later, after Emma’s death, Hardy returned to the area and wrote the poem ‘Beeny Cliff’ which lies just up the coast from Boscastle.
St Juliot Church now features a memorial to Emma, designed by Hardy and an etched glass window erected in 2000 by the Hardy Society. It has become a place of pilgrimage for lovers of his work but is still a quiet place tucked away in the Cornish countryside where you can rest awhile after a nice walk.
Hidden deep in woodland above the Valency Valley, this slyvan setting, well known for its graveyard full of wild flowers in the spring, is also home to a dark mystery.
On the edge of the graveyard is a gravestone belonging to a Joan Wytte who was allegedly a white witch living in Bodmin in the early 1800s. She died in Bodmin Jail but for some reason she was never buried and her skeleton eventually ended up in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle in the 1960s.
It stayed there, hanging from the ceiling, until new owners bought the museum in 1996. They claimed the skeleton was disruptive and decided to make plans to bury her. However the local churches refused this to happen and one dark night she was taken into the woods and secretly buried, a stone later being erected just outside Minster Church.
How much truth there is in the whole story is open to discussion, some claim it was all a publicity stunt for when the museum first opened, but that doesn't stop you viewing the gravestone, if you can find it!
Boscastle is a place steeped in history, associated with authors and artists who have been inspired by its remoteness and rugged beauty. But it’s also a working harbour, and the main village which sits on the hill above is also a pleasant place to explore.
Things to do
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Boscastle
From the M5 at Exeter take the A30 until a few mile east of Launceston. Turn off onto the A395 following it to the A39. From here follow signs to Boscastle.
There are is a large pay and display car park in the valley behind the harbour.
The main bus serving Boscastle is the 95 bus, which runs between Bude and Wadebridge via Tintagel and Camelford. (Summer 2022)
The nearest National Express stop is Bodmin. A connection bus from there reaches Boscastle after changing in Wadebridge.
The nearest railway station is Bodmin. A connecting bus from there reaches Boscastle after changing in Wadebridge.
The nearest train station to Boscastle is Bodmin Parkway, about 16 miles away. You can journey by bus from there, but it requires changing in Wadebridge.
Cornwall's North Coast has plenty to see and do, from Bude in the far north, all the way down to Perranporth. It's famed for its long sandy beaches and big cliffs. It's a surfers paradise, it's got history and heritage at Tintagel and Boscastle, it's got fantastic walks and views... The easy answer is, don't miss any of it!
No.. the nearest beach is Bossiney Cove, a beautiful hidden gem to the west of Boscastle.
The cove has a small sandy beach which is completely covered by the tide at high water and access to the beach is via a footpath over farmland and then by steep steps, a route which is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. From the beach see if you can spot Elephant Rock hidden in the cliff face.
At the right hand side of the cove there is a great cave to explore that is about 60 feet high at the entrance but only 15–20 feet wide. It opens up into a large cavern with two more caverns which become very dark. The cave continues after this point but the floor becomes rock and very uneven.
If goiang around into the cove to the east, please be aware of the tides and don't get cut off.
Boscastle is best known as a tourist destination because of its quaintness and the epic location of the harbour beneath towering hills. It's popular with walkers, and those in search of the dark arts... and many may remember the flash floods that struck the village in August 2004 and caused extensive damage to the village.
In August 2004 a flash flood caused extensive damage to the village. Since then millions of pounds has been spent on rebuilding the damaged buildings and flood protection work that should prevent the same thing ever happening again.
The cause of the flooding was that over 60 millimetres of rainfall fell in two hours. That amount of rain would normally fall in a month. The ground around and behind Boscastle was already saturated due to the previous two weeks of above average rainfall and so had nowhere to go but down the two rivers that flow through the village.
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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