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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Walk 165 Port Issac to Tintagel (Cornwall)

Walk 165 Port Issac to Tintagel (Cornwall)

(Third leg of English coastal walk – Lands End to Bristol)

Map: L/R 200
Distance: 11 miles or 18km
Difficulty: Another demanding and challenging days walking, allow plenty of time.
Terrain: coastal path
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: Difficult and time consuming as buses involve one or two changes (if travelling between the two places). Good bus links with surrounding areas from Tintagel.

The start is at the centre of Port Issac. Although this picturesque old fishing village has become a bit of a Doc Martin 'theme park' (attracting many visitors to see the filming locations) there is still plenty to enjoy in its own right. The muddled, attractive and often very narrow streets are worth spending a little while exploring. One was once known as Squeezee-ee-Belly Alley and was in the Guinness Book of Records as the narrowest public thoroughfare in the world. Look out for the 'Outlaws' building with its white boarded frontage – this is listed and one of the oldest in the village. Port Issac means 'corn port' indicating a trade in this cereal from the surrounding district. The village centre dates from the 18th/19th centuries when it was tied to local fishing and trade.

The harbour at Port Issac has a pier constructed in Tudor times in addition to a more recently added sea wall. Look out for the lifeboat station near the main tourist walk. The 24 hour-a-day life boat service was originally established in 1869 and, as recently as 2011, received gallantry medals for a very daring rescue.

A short walk to the east out of Port Issac is Port Gaverne. Near this point, in the 19th century, women handled slate, passing it from hand to hand into the holds of sailing ships. Coal was also imported here.

The next part of the walk involves strenuous climbs all the way to Trebarwith Strand and beyond to Tintagel. This is a very remote walk but at least you should be able to get refreshments at Trebarwith Strand. The rugged coast at Trebarwith looks out to Gull Rock. The road down to the sea was originally built by farmers so they could collect sand to put on their fields.

Continue the walk around Penhallic Point and on to Tintagel. The path passes over old slate mines before reaching Tintagel Head. If you have enough energy left, it is worth crossing the bridge to The Island and the remains of Tintagel Castle. The castle was built by Reginald, Earl of Cornwall the illegitimate son of Henry 1 in the 1230s and then owned by the Black Prince, the first duke of Cornwall, who used it as a prison. Over the years it decayed and became derelict. Of course, its international fame revolves around the legend that The Island was the birthplace of King Arthur. There are traces of a fifth century monastery nearby.

The walk back into Tintagel is a steep one – most unwelcome after a challenging day's walk.

Photos show: Port Issac, the old Tudor Pier and The Sea wall; Trebarwith Strand; The Island and bridge to castle, Tintagel.

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