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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Walk 166 Tintagel to Crackington Haven (Cornwall)

Walk 166 Tintagel to Crackington Haven (Cornwall)

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

Map: L/R 200 and L/R 190
Distance: 12 miles or 20km
Difficulty: Demanding.
Terrain: coastal path, some road out of Tintagel
Access: Parking at both ends.
Public transport: 595 bus runs between the two places every couple of hours.

Before leaving Tintagel there are at least two places to visit. Firstly, The Visitors Centre next to the car park gives a good background to the history of the area. It gives some sensible and factual balance to the King Arthur industry! The Old Post Office in the main street is owned by the National Trust. It was built in the 14th century as a yeoman's before becoming a post office briefly in the nineteenth century. Worth a look inside if you have time.

Go down the hill and past the old mine office buildings, one of which is now a cafe. Pegs, which are remnants of the old lead mine, can still be seen in nearby rocks. Follow the path to the right and round to Bossiney Haven. The nearby town of Bossiney was of some significance in the past. In the 16th century it had its own mayor and two MPs, one of whom was Sir Francis Drake.

The path passes through Rock Valley with some steep climbing on the far side. Bronze age carvings have been found in rocks near here. The area is also a habitat for the rare chough - a black red beaked bird said to be the reincarnation of King Arthur. I looked but saw none.

Looking back westwards are the two similar looking rocks called The Sisters. Follow the path for a couple of miles. You will know when you are close to Boscastle when a white square turreted 'look-out building' appears on top of a hill. Follow the path down into Boscastle. This is a good place to stop for refreshments and a quick look around.

The attractive harbour and village have been in the news over recent years because of devastating floods. Lots of damage but thankfully few injuries. The name of the village comes from a motte and bailey fortress of which there are just remains now. The two stone harbour walls were built in the late 1500s. Many years ago rowing boats known as hobblers used to tow small ships into the harbour. The novelist Thomas Hardy was a frequent visitor here. A museum of witchcraft is one of the attractions along the quayside.

Leave Boscastle and follow the path around to Pentargon with its 250 ft waterfall which cascades into a cave. Next up are Beeny Cliffs, I assumed that the famous poem by Thomas Hardy was set here but research seems to suggest that the cliff in question overlooks the British Channel which of course this does not (Atlantic Ocean). Maybe someone has this wrong? There are minor paths marked on the map but it is safer to stick to the main coastal path for the next couple of miles to High Cliff.

This place does what it says on the tin. It is Cornwall's highest cliff at 223 metres and I would not recommend walking along this stretch in a high wind.

A bit further along are The Strangles which are jagged rocks and the graveyard of many sailing ships – in the 1820s alone 23 vessels were wrecked here. From Little Strand it is a relatively easy walk into Crackington Haven. With two cafes and a pub this is a good place to stop. Up to the 19th century it was a small port which imported limestone and coal and exported slate. The village was badly damaged by floods in 2004.

Photos show: Rocky Valley; Boscastle; Crackington Haven.

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