Nestled in the crook of a steep valley at the confluence of three rivers, Boscastle is an unspoilt fishing village on the dramatic North Cornwall coast, with a seafaring heritage stretching back to Elizabethan times. The historic, natural harbour sits in an impressive amphitheatre of steep flower-clad cliffs and is home to quaint stone-built cottages with higgledy-piggledy rooftops, gently trickling streams and a collection of shops and tearooms – it’s impossibly photogenic.
Read on to find out why we think Boscastle is so unique and discover a few local secrets, to help you make the most of your stay.
About the village:
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Trust own and care for Boscastle’s beautiful medieval harbour and surrounding coastline. The village’s remoteness and rugged beauty have long inspired authors and artists, most notably, the renowned poet Thomas Hardy, who has featured Boscastle in much of his work.
Make the most of the relaxed pace of life here; browse the potteries, art galleries and gift shops, quench your thirst in a friendly pub and your appetite in a café over homemade pasties and ice-cream sundaes, or hop aboard a relaxing boat trip from the harbour. Scenic walks range from invigorating hikes along the South West Coast Path, abundant in wildlife and views across the Atlantic Ocean, to leisurely rambles in the secluded Valency Valley.
Just 14 miles south of Bude and 5 miles north-east of Tintagel, Boscastle is only a short drive away from a plethora of local beauty spots and attractions including the delights of Tintagel Castle, swathed in the legends of King Arthur, several stately homes and gardens, and the wilds of Bodmin Moor, famous for its granite tors and Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn.
While there are no beaches in Boscastle itself, there are plenty nearby where you can enjoy windswept walks during winter or long sunny days swimming. The sweeping sandy beaches of Bossiney, Trebarwith Strand and Crackington Haven are all within 5 miles and the surfing beaches at Bude and Polzeath are both within easy driving distance.
One of the most iconic attractions in Boscastle and indeed, one of the most popular museums in Cornwall, the Museum of Witchcraft is home to the world's largest collection of witchcraft related artefacts and regalia. There are over 2000 objects on display as well as activities for children and displays covering spells, charms, curses, healing, Christian magic, Pagan beliefs, Cornish 'piskies', and more.
For some great photo opportunities, be sure to catch Boscastle’s Blowhole beneath Penally Point, also known as ‘the Devil’s Bellows’. Only when the conditions are right, about an hour either side of low tide, a horizontal waterspout is dramatically blown out of the sea across the harbour entrance.
If you want to see the sights from a different perspective and you’ve got good sea legs, there are a wealth of boat trips leaving from Boscastle Harbour daily. From wildlife watching cruises to Long Island where you might spot razorbills, guillemots, puffins and seals, to fishing excursions where you can catch your own supper, and relaxing tours along rugged Cornish cliffs and caves, there are plenty of ways to appreciate the breathtaking coastal landscape.
Discover the sacred site of St Nectan’s Glen, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, just 2 miles from Boscastle. Here, the River Trevillet has carved its way through slate and punched through the original basin to form a spectacular 60ft waterfall cascading into an enchanting valley and natural pool. Locals claim to have seen pixies and fairies here…
Immerse yourself in the history, myths and stunning scenery at Tintagel Castle, 4 miles from Boscastle. Said to be the place where King Arthur was born, these atmospheric clifftop ruins have Arthurian legend weaving through their foundations. Climb the 148 steps into the Great Hall, explore Merlin’s Cave when the tide is out, or indulge in a cream tea against the captivating backdrop of the sparkling sea.
Close to both coastline and countryside, Boscastle is the perfect location for a holiday in Cornwall. With our selection of charming cottages in and around the village, you will be perfectly placed to explore the unique landscape as well as visiting the many attractions on offer.
Alternatively, if you’re a fan of Thomas Hardy, treat yourself to a stay in The Old Rectory where the famous author first met and fell in love with his wife and the Rector’s sister-in-law, Emma Lavinia Gifford. Now a luxurious B&B, you can look forward to a peaceful night’s sleep in an en-suite bedroom decorated in period style, followed by a traditional Cornish breakfast or locally smoked fish, before exploring the three acres of beautiful grounds alive with fragrant gardens and friendly farm animals.
The food and drink:
There is a myriad of places to eat and drink in Boscastle, from light lunches, cream teas and homemade cakes in the National Trust Visitor Centre, to fine local fayre in award-winning inns and restaurants such as The Cobweb, The Wellington or The Napoleon.
For a coastal inn with character in abundance, The Riverside restaurant is a great choice with fresh fish and shellfish landed daily from the Cornwall and Devon coast – we particularly recommend the seafood Thermidor, including Cornish lobster, crab and crayfish.
Follow in the footsteps of the famous novelist Thomas Hardy by taking the tranquil path through the heavily wooded Valency Valley to the dark and intriguing Minster Church, almost enmeshed by rare trees and shrubs looking for light. Continue to St. Juliot’s Church, worked on by the writer while he was still a practising architect, and pass by The Old Rectory where Hardy met Emma, his first wife.
For exceptional views along the coast, join the South West Coast Path which runs right through Boscastle. A favourite trail with walkers is the 7-mile stretch between Boscastle and Crackington Haven which features High Cliff, the highest point on the Cornish coast path, the long, sandy beach at The Strangles, the largest seal colony in North Cornwall and Pentargon inlet with its impressive waterfall cascading down to the ocean below.
Other memorable sights to see include the National Trust owned cliffs of Penally Point and Willapark which form the imposing headlands either side of the harbour entrance (north and south respectively), and Forrabury Stitches which offers a rare glimpse at a surviving farmed landscape showing ancient Celtic strip fields. There are a host of walking books including maps for sale in the Boscastle Visitor Centre.
One of the best ways to see the sights of Boscastle is to take part in the annual Boscastle Walking Week. Led by experienced local guides through the countryside and coast, this is the perfect opportunity to ramble along trails that you might not otherwise know about.
Inspired to grab your walking boots and take a holiday in Boscastle? Browse our fantastic range of cottages in Boscastle to discover your perfect getaway.