Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Trebarwith Strand - Tintagel - Boscastle (South West Coast Path 80)

Trebarwith Strand

We set out from Trebarwith Strand: the tide was in and no beach was visible, just a large slab of rock. Gull Rock continued to dominate the horizon. We then made the steep climb up to the cliff-top, seeing our first Painted Ladies of the day, and soon had an impressive view back.

The route now continued at a comfortable cliff top level and we continued to see more Painted Ladies. At the end of this section we passed above a series of quarries, one of which had left behind an impressive column of rock. But why? 

We passed behind the two Penhallic Points (Lower and Higher), noticing the white sails of some boats out to sea, the first we have seen on this trip. Approaching Tintagel, we saw the imposing spire of the isolated church of St Materiana. Pevsner calls it the best small Norman church in Cornwall.

Soon after that we had our first view of the great rocky island, linked to the mainland by a narrow footbridge. 

We made a visit and learned that the great castle of Richard Earl of Cornwall from 1233 was in fact in two parts, one on the mainland and the larger on the island. The association with King Arthur is even older and goes back to Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the English kings of 1133. 

We saw a seal in Tintagel Haven …

 … and several Scarlet Tiger moths flying around on the hillside.

There was also a great view of the next headland, Barras Nose, notable for being the first piece of coast to be owned by the National Trust. From this angle you can begin to see why it might be called Barras Nose.

After we finished our exploration of Tintagel, we resumed the Coast Path, passing behind Barras Nose and following the cliff round to the next headland Willapark, with the Two Sisters rocks just off it (the smaller sister is hidden behind the larger one). Beyond this a pleasant bay opened up with Firebeacon Hill and a large rock (Long Island!) at its end. The coast here was quite indented and we wondered what it would be like.

Soon we descended a little, but still passed high above the exquisite Bosinney Cove.

After a short climb we followed a broad grassy path towards Rocky Valley. This turned out to a well-named and absolutely beautiful winding river valley flowing into the sea. as it wound its way inland the valley opened and became picturesque rather than dramatic.

After a long steep climb up from the valley bottom, we continued at a high level. Soon a view towards a second headland called Willapool opened up. The white lookout station was clearly visible on top of the headland. I liked the large rock on the right, which seemed to me to suggest a dog or bear sitting upright. It appears that no-one else has spotted this.

A wide grassy path descended to another inlet and after a steep climb we passed inland of the second Willapool and its lookout station. I loved the pony to the right and imagined that the lookout had ridden to work. A notice explained that ponies were being grazed on the headland, so perhaps that was the explanation.

I had thought the Boscastle lay just beyond this headland but the path continued relentlessly onwards towards a sort of inlet. What could it be?

As we turned the corner, we discovered the good news: it was the mouth of the long, narrow harbour.

As the harbour ended a river began. It was as though we had suddenly been transported to the Cotswolds. Boscastle of course suffered terrible flash flooding in 2004 as the result of heavy rain. Happily, physically at least, it is now restored.

Conditions: Warm and sunny - a beautiful day to on the coast. Others clearly thought so too and this was the most crowded section of the coast path we have yet walked on.

Grading: Moderate.

Map: Explorer 111 (Bude, Boscastle and Tintagel).

Distance: 6.8 miles. Distance now covered 489.1 miles.

Rating: Five stars. One of the best and most varied sections.

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