Walk - Boscastle Farm Shop - Boscastle & Forrabury
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the Farm Shop go into the field at the rear. Cross the field, bearing right and downhill to the Cornish hedge along the bottom.
Cornish hedges are unlike most, being stone-faced earth banks with vegetation growing in the top. They are often of great age.
In the cove below, Pentargon, you may well see some of the local colony of seals. The cliffs here are also home to peregrine falcons. These are said to be the fastest birds on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 200mph (320kph) as they dive on their prey.
- The South West Coast Path runs along the bottom of the field. Cross the stone stile in the hedge and immediately turn left on to the Coast Path.
Note the acorn waymark. The Coast Path is a National Trail, and all National Trails use an acorn as their waymark.
Continue along the Coast Path, along the bottom of the field, passing through two kissing-gates and then cross a stile.
This location gives a superb view back over the cove of Pentargon. It is possible to see the cove's waterfall, which has been caused by long-term coastal erosion cutting back the cliffs. The stream thus has to abruptly fall to sea level rather than following a more gradual descent. More recent cliff falls have required a change in the route of the path into the fields.
- From the stile follow the Coast Path. The path undulates then descends to a kissing-gate below the prominent Penally Hill, which is surmounted by a flagstaff.
The Coast Path turns left by the kissing-gate, but it is worth continuing on the path ahead to the flagstaff (labelled as a mast on the map) at the top for the view. To the south-west is seen Forrabury Church with the watchhouse of Willapark on the coast. Immediately below is the entrance to Boscastle Harbour. In the opposite direction, north-east, the coast continues past the satellite tracking station at Morwenstow.
- Retrace steps from the flagstaff to the kissing-gate and turn down the Coast Path towards Boscastle Harbour.
Boscastle Harbour is very picturesque. It is very difficult to access from the sea, but it is the only harbour along some 20 miles (32 km) of the North Cornwall coast. There has long been a harbour here. The first record dates from Elizabethan times but it almost certainly pre-dates this time. During the 1800s in particular this was an important harbour, importing coal, salt, bricks and beer for local use and exporting locally quarried slate and minerals, china clay from inland and local agricultural goods.
- Pass alongside the harbour.
To return directly to the Farm Shop, just after the row of white cottages bear left onto the footpath signed “Panoramic Path”. However, for shops, toilets and refreshments continue along the harbour side.
For directions to return to the Farm Shop from here see RETURN FROM BOSCASTLE below.
Continue on to the footbridge.
The footbridge replaced the old bridge swept away by the floods of 2004. Substantial damage was caused when 2 million tonnes of water cascaded down the valley following a severe rainstorm and almost devastated the village, now happily rebuilt.
- Cross the footbridge and climb up the path to the right and behind the cottages, still following the Coast Path signs and waymarks.
Passing the end of the harbour a blow hole may be seen and heard as it spouts water within two hours of high tide. This is an impressive sight.
- Leaving the harbour the Coast Path climbs steadily to reach a gate. At this point, reaching Willapark, turn right, leaving the Coast Path to climb to the white tower at the top.
The tower dates from the early 1800s, built by a local landowner as a summer house. After serving as a coastguard station and then being maintained by the National Trust, it is now run by the National Coastwatch Institution, a charity volunteer organisation. It was painted white to act as a guide to help vessels locate Boscastle Harbour, difficult to spot from out at sea.
There are excellent coastal views from here. However, look inland at the view of the field pattern of open strips, one of the few left in the country. These strips, known as the Stitches, may date back to Celtic times. They are managed on a six-year rotation system, with various strips being meadow, temporary pasture, cereals or fallow. Some strips are permanent pasture, including one of the richest hay meadows in the country.
- Return down the path from the tower. Keep to the main path until it reaches the Coast Path at a gate and turn right here. Soon the Coast Path forks bear left here, curving round by the Stitches to head for the church tower. Keep on alongside the Cornish hedge then turn right at the kissing-gate into the churchyard.
There was a church here at Forrabury in Norman times but the current church is the result of a complete rebuild in 1867. However the tower is older, and so is the porch, its roof made of giant granite slabs.
- Leave the churchyard through the main gate and bear left down the slope and on down the lane to the B3263 road. TAKE CARE and cross the road down the lane opposite, turning left at the bottom. Follow this road to the end.
This is the old main road between the higher and lower parts of Boscastle. At the bottom take the opportunity to look round the village with its shops and toilets.
- Cross the road and follow the riverside to the footbridge (which was crossed on the outward leg).
- At the footbridge bear right, then just before the cottages turn sharp back and right on the “Panoramic Path”.
RETURN FROM BOSCASTLE
Follow the pleasant path as it climbs gently along the valley side. Go through a large gate alongside the road and on ahead through a kissing-gate and along the edge of two fields. In the third field bear a little to the left to the gap in the hedge ahead then continue up to arrive at the Farm Shop.
Boscastle Farm Shop