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Highlights around Boscastle and Tintagel

A ruined castle, stories of King Arthur and a Museum of Witchcraft are sure to light the imagination of most young visitors and the villages of Boscastle and Tintagel promise all three.
The small port of lies along a steep-sided narrow ravine which ends in a natural harbour inlet. Although it is now used only for fishing and pleasure boats, you can still imagine the old port bustling with trade in the past as limestone and coal were discharged from tall-masted ships onto the dockside and Cornish slate was loaded for export.

Boscastle, as its name suggests, was once the site of a 12th century motte and bailey fortification known as Bottreaux Castle. The harbour was developed in 1564 by Sir Richard Grenville, a famous sea captain and explorer who played a significant part in the battle against the Spanish Armada. Lining the harbour are many thatched whitewashed cottages dating back to that period. Imagine the tales they could tell!

Things to Do in Boscastle

Follow the footpath around the quayside to the left and discover the Lookout, which gives a wonderful view right along this rugged coastline, most of which is managed by the National Trust. The scenic South West Coastal Path from Boscastle offers a strenuous seven-mile walk to the pretty cove and beach at Crackington Haven. It passes an impressive waterfall at Pentargon Inlet, the highest point on the Cornish coastal path at High Cliff and Strangles Beach with its natural rock arch.

Take a boat trip from Boscastle harbour to Long Island and see seals, razorbills, puffins and guillemots, particularly in the breeding season of late spring. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy going wreck fishing on a local fishing charter.

Back on dry land, Boscastle has a small pottery, some cafés and gift shops and a Witchcraft Museum with a spooky collection of exhibits relating to black magic and the occult. Author Thomas Hardy met his wife while living in Boscastle where he worked as an architect on the restoration of the local St Juliot Church.

Tintagel Castle

All that remains of Bottreaux Castle are its earthworks but just three miles west is the better preserved Tintagel Castle, sitting on the headland. Youngsters will have great fun crossing the bridge and climbing the steep steps which local legend says were once trod by King Arthur and Merlin the magician.

Pass beneath the ancient archway within the protective curtain walls and enter the narrow passageway of the outer bailey. Now managed by English Heritage, Tintagel Castle is said to be the resting place of the magical sword Excalibur and locals say Merlin can still be seen walking near Merlin’s Cave, one of two tunnels which run beneath the hillside.

Whatever you choose to believe, Tintagel is certainly a centre of ancient history with an ancient barrow, ruins of a Celtic monastery and an Iron Age hill fort nearby. Visit the 14th century manor house with its slate roof, now known as the Old Post Office. Wander around the art galleries and potteries, sip tea at one of the cafés and enjoy the glorious coastal scenery that makes a holiday in Cornwall so special.

Further inland visit Pencarrow House and Gardens, enjoy fishing and watersports on Colliford Lake Reservoir, sample locally made cheese at Davidstow or hike to the top of Brown Willy.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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