Before we left North Devon for home (which at the time was in west Surrey) we headed on down the coast to have another look at the North Cornwall coastal towns of Boscastle, Tintagel and Port Isaac – famous for the Doc Martin series on ITV. Of course getting there involved a stop off at another beach – Sandymouth, and the return was via the coastal road and a quick stop at Widecombe Bay. Writing these travelogues makes me understand why it is that I arrive back from holiday needing a holiday. I don’t seem to do relaxing!
First stop was at Sandymouth at the very north of North Cornwall – another stony beach, though from its name I guess that there is a sandy beach at low tide. We weren’t there at low tide however. The area is gorgeous though and I can understand why people hike along the south-west path. I’m considering it myself if I ever get to live a little closer! There are breath-taking walks in either direction: north to Duckpool, south to Northcott Mouth with dizzying views along this stunning coastline.
Next along the coast is Boscastle, a village and harbour protected by two stone walls built in 1584 which lies between Bude and Tintagel. It is a popular tourist spot with lovely walks along the harbour to the headland and unusually, a witchcraft museum. A flash flood in 2004 caused extensive damage to the village, but fortunately with no loss of life. (photos are from 2006)
Tintagel further south is of course famous for the Arthurian legends. The ruined castle is perched high on the dramatic cliffs a short walk from the village. It is believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur and is one of the most romantic and intriguing places in Britain. Whatever the truth is there is no denying that it is located in a spectacular setting on the North Cornish coast. (photos from 2006)
Our final destination on this day was Port Isaac (Cornish: Porthysek). Another former fishing village, the main catch being pilchards, today it is mainly a place of second homes and self-catering cottages. Fishing still takes place, but now it is mainly crab and lobster. Walking around the picturesque harbour you may come across Squeezee Belly Alley the world’s narrowest thoroughfare at only 18 inches across the narrowest point. It is the home of the Fisherman’s Friends, a sea shanty singing group and is the fictional village of Port Wenn where Doc Martin is filmed. Southwards is the village of Rock where you can take a ferry to Padstow.
We parked at the top of the village (I don’t recommend trying to take a car to the harbour as the road is very narrow and twists at the bottom which can cause difficulty, especially if you meet an oncoming car) and followed the footpath around the top of the cliff before heading down the narrow street edged with galleries, eateries and granite built cottages. It is a very popular village and extremely busy in the summer making parking a problem, but it is a lovely spot to spend a few hours and if you are based here for your holiday it is close to plenty of gorgeous beaches and has good access to the south-west path. After a walk around the harbour and exploring a few of the narrow back lanes we made our way back up the hill stopping for freshly cooked fish and chips en route eating them whilst admiring the fabulous views along that rugged coastline.