Have you ever visited a place that makes you feel you’re no longer in your homeland, but somewhere completely different? That although you’ve only gone a few miles from your doorstep, it feels as if you’re the other side of the world? I had that feeling only recently when I took my walking group, Cornish Ramblings, to Boscastle for a 6.5 mile walk. Nestled between luscious valleys, Boscastle is only 40ish miles from where I live, but I’d never touched a toe there before. Shocker, I know! But for some reason, this beautiful village had escaped my walking grasp. But at 32 years of age, FINALLY, I became privy to all its wonder…and fell a little bit in love.
On arriving into Boscastle, you are instantly transported into a scene much like a picturesque fairy tale. With its quaint buildings, surrounding billowing coastlines, deep coombs and romantic natural harbour, it’s hard to not be in awe at this beautiful Cornish village. With Boscastle relying on approximately 90% of its trade dependent through tourism, I was glad to see it bustling with visitors. The pubs and restaurants were full of chatter, clattering cutlery and clinking glasses, whilst the shops had plenty of curious eyes flirting in wander at what was on offer. The streets were awash with hikers, us included, ready to set off on whatever adventure lay in wait.
Making our way past the visitor’s centre, we started our walk by following a pathway alongside the river that lead us towards Willapark. With excellent views over Boscastle Harbour, the beginning of our hike was already looking promising. As we reached the top, the coastguard lookout emerged in front of us as we stopped here to catch our breath and take in the magnificent views.
This spectacular stretch of coastline is a notorious spot for shipwrecks. According to the notes on the iWalk Cornwall app, in January 1843, the Jessie Logan had been making its way from Calcutta to Liverpool. A heavy gale drove it to shore where it struck on the rocks near Blackapit. All the crew perished and most of her cargo came ashore, including rice, sugar and cotton. Further along this route, debris from the wrecked ship, Alliance, was also washed up. In 1884, the steam-powered cargo freighter disappeared whilst on route from Cardiff to St. Nazaire. The Alliance had been carrying coal from the Welsh valleys, which had been liable to produce methane in wet conditions and known to cause ships to spontaneously explode. However, an investigation found the shipwreck to be well ventilated and in a good seaworthy condition!
Heart rates back to normal, we carried on. After making our way down, across and up a couple of valleys, through a few kissing gates and along a path towards a rock arch known as the Lady’s Window, we reached the deep and gorgeous gorge at Rocky Valley. But hang on I hear you cry. You want to hear more about the Lady’s Window? Well okay then! This beautiful hole in a rock was formed around 370 million years ago when Cornwall was pushed out to sea. Through intense pressure, the heat from colliding rocks and gradual weathering, the Lady’s Window emerged…and now makes for a great photo shoot setting for Cornish Ramblers like us!
After several (hundred) photos and selfies later, we made our way along the coastline and eventually down into Rocky Valley. This beautiful gorge made my jaw drop to the ground. Having been mentioned in travel books as a place of exceptional beauty, as I did a 360 turn, I could see why. Rocky Valley has been formed by the Trevillet river carving its way through the slate bedrock, and cascades through woodland before opening out into a canyon which meets the coast. This valley is dramatic yet peaceful to walk through, and I could feel my fellow hikers taking it all in around me, breath by breath.
Crossing the bridge and following the pathway alongside the river, we reached worn away buildings, just waiting to be explored. Strange labyrinthine stone carvings had been chiselled into the rockface, but the age of these carvings is still unknown. Some historians believe they date back to as early as the bronze age, whereas some believe they are a lot more recent. Either way, this particularly creepy, yet beautiful area, caused a lot of Blair Witch talk and re-enactments which left me feeling a little giddy to say the least!