Monday, 28 September 2015

Boscastle to Crackington Haven (South West Coast Path 81)


We are back on the South West Coast Path after a summer break - Cornwall is just too crowded in the summer - and we pick up our route at Boscastle. We walk up right hand side of the stream which flows into the harbour and past the tea shop with its pretty gothic windows to look down over the harbour where the tide is out.

We climb the steep cliff behind Penally Point and head along at cliff top level with the coast stretching away ahead to the oddly named headland of Cambeak.

We are already starting to see lots of Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies and this would continue for the rest of the walk. We make the first of several steep descents from Hillsborough to reach a cove called Pentargon, where there is apparently a waterfall when conditions are right. Not today though. There is a nice view out to sea however.

Now we climb Beeny Cliff and continue on a mid-cliff path with the rocks called the Beeny Sisters out to sea, a known spot to see seals. Two women walkers we passed had paused to do just that, although we couldn't see any ourselves.

Now we were on a high cliff path with next section to Cambeak stretching out before us and looking rather bleak it must be said. We didn't realise until we had climbed up to it, but the rocky bluff on the right is High Cliff, unimaginatively named but at 223m just beats Golden Cap in height and is apparently the highest sea cliff in Cornwall. (The only higher one in England is Great Hangman near Combe Martin in North Devon, which is 318m.)

At Rusey Cliff there was clearly going to be a substantial descent and then climb and in fact the path went further down towards the sea than I had realised when taking this picture.

 The long steep ascent on the other side brought us to High Cliff, and a grassy area just beyond. The view was green and inviting, allowing us to dream that the hard climbing is all over.

Soon you begin another descent and the distinctive rock formations of this section of coast become clearer: Samphire Rock (one of the few such rocks not called Gull Rock), Northern Door (a natural sea arch, although it appears on closer inspection to have been bolstered with some stone blocks) and Cambeak.

On the descent we spotted to the left a number of goats with long curved horns.

As you get closer, Cambeak looks for all the world like stone monster: head, eye, mouth, neck, body.

Time for another descent and then a steep climb, eschewing the obvious shortcut to the right, to climb Cambeak and enjoy a fine view toward our destination, Crackington Haven.

 Just another steep 50-step climb bars the way and soon we are descending the cliff towards the village. It looks nothing much, but apparently the high water conceals a sandy beach and at low water it is a popular destination.

Conditions; remarkably warm and sunny.

Distance: 6.8 miles (distance now covered 496 miles).

Grading: Strenuous.

Map: Explorer 111 (Bude, Boscastle & Tintagel)

Rating: Four stars.

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