Walk - Boscastle Farm Shop - Valency & Fire Beacon
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. 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 stone stile in the Cornish hedge along the bottom. Cross the stile and follow the Coast Path to the left. Pass through a kissing-gate into a field then a second gate into another field.
Cornish hedges are a feature of this area. These are stone-faced earth banks with vegetation growing out of the top. Many are of great age.
Turn left after this second gate and walk along the right-hand side of the hedge.
- At the far end turn right and follow the field edges down to emerge by a road at Penally House. Continue down the road for a short way and pass through the white gate ahead.
There are excellent views over Boscastle, showing its position at the meeting place of two deep valleys, the Valency on the left and the Jordan to the right. It was this position which contributed to the flood of 2004, when 2 million tonnes of water swept down the valleys to engulf the village. This walk will follow one of the valleys, the Valency.
Follow the path to the bottom then, arriving at the cottages, turn sharp back left and downhill to the riverside.
This is the head of Boscastle Harbour, the only harbour refuge along some 20 miles (32 km) of the North Cornwall coast. Even so, it is very narrow and difficult of access. It dates from at least Elizabethan timers and probably much earlier.
- Descend to the footbridge. Do not cross, but continue along the riverside to the road bridge.
Here in Boscastle is a range of shops, refreshments and other facilities.
Turn left along the road then right by the toilets and car park and along the riverside path. A little way along climb left to the overflow car park and out at the far end into the wooded valley. Follow the path up the valley parallel to the river.
This attractive valley has now largely recovered from the floods of 2004, though there is a little evidence here and there. The woodland is mostly oak, quite possibly the remnants of ancient tree cover. Over the years it has been managed for woodfuel and for building and furnishings and the bark used for the tanning of leather.
- Pass a footbridge signed to Minster Church. Do not cross the bridge but continue ahead. Shortly after the bridge take the steps climbing to the left where the path forks and continue to arrive at the attractive little hamlet of New Mills. Go through the gate and continue on the track to pass behind what were once mill buildings to arrive at a junction at the bottom of a lane.
The present buildings probably date from the 1700s and 1800s, but the settlement of New Mills was first recorded in the 1600s. It is possible the mill gave its name to the River Valency, whose origin may be “veynjy”, Cornish for mill-house.
- At the junction at New Mills turn left, up the steep zigzag hill.
If the path along the valley were to be followed it would lead in about a mile (1.6 km) to the remote church of St Juliot, closely associated with the author Thomas Hardy. By profession, an architect, he was taken on to rebuild the church. While there he met Emma, the sister-in-law of the rector and she later became his first wife. The Valency Valley inspired much of his poetry of the time and that and his future wife also inspired an early Hardy book, “A Pair of Blue Eyes”.
The lane up the hill is quite a climb, but gives excellent views over the valley.
- At the top follow the lane round to the right then continue past a farm to reach the B3263 Bude-Boscastle road. Turn right here. Take care as this can be a busy road. Then after 50 yards (48 metres) turn left down a narrow lane. Follow the lane down and at the bottom of the valley cross a stile on the right and climb up the field ahead to the bushes at the top. Go through the gap in the bushes, through a gate and over the next field, aiming just right of the house at the top.
- At the gate and stile go on to the lane and turn right. Pass the Victorian building of Manor Farm and continue to a junction. Turn left here then, shortly after the isolated house of North Lodge, turn right along a public footpath between hedges, this leads to an open field; continue alongside the hedge to reach the Coast Path.
This relatively high vantage point gives excellent views along the North Cornish coast. To the right are the black cliffs of Buckator with the pointed shape of Cambeak beyond and on to the cliffs beyond Bude in the far distance. To the left the coast continues past the white tower of the lookout at Willapark and on to the square shape of the hotel on the cliff top at Tintagel.
- Turn left along the Coast Path. An excellent cliff top length ends at Fire Beacon Point. A zigzag flight of steps followed by a steep descent and further steps takes the path down on to the face of Beeny Cliff.
Fire Beacon Point is prominent and high, and these factors gave rise to its use as a coastal beacon. A little further along the cliff is a cave known as Seals Hole, and grey seals often haul up on the inaccessible beaches in this area. Roughly half the world's population of grey seals is found in the UK, a large proportion in Cornwall. They are big animals, with the males often over 10 ft (3 metres) long. You may see seal pups in almost any month, but the majority are born in the autumn and early winter.
- Continue along the Coast Path on the sloping face of Beeny Cliff. At the far end the path climbs alongside the cove at Pentargon.
It should be possible to see the top of a waterfall at Pentargon. This drops 120 ft (37 metres) and was created due to erosion of the cliffs being faster than erosion of the valley.
The path descends to cross the stream behind the waterfall, then climbs steeply up a long flight of steps. Go through the kissing-gate at the top and cross the field diagonally to the left to return to the Farm Shop.
Boscastle Farm Shop