Last Updated on 11th September 2017 by Sophie Nadeau
A high stone wall sits beside the sea. Hewn from the cliff face by time and the elements, it provides a natural defence from the sea for the Northern Cornish village of Boscastle. Sheltered and quaint, this village is typical of the area and is well worth a visit, if only to check out the local architecture and wander along the rugged coastline. Here’s a quick guide to Boscastle: all the things you should do, what to visit and where to go!
If there’s one place you should make a priority to visit while in the area, it’s the historic harbour of Boscastle. The natural harbour of Boscastle has been formed over millennia and is very impressive, to say the least. Located at the Northern most point of the village, it remains the focal point of Boscastle. After all, for the longest time, the village relied heavily on the local fishing trade.
Throughout the 19th Century, countless schooners regularly traded in the port. As well as the natural cliff face, the stone harbour offers further protection to boats in the form of two ancient walls. These man-made defences date back all the way to 1584 and mark the harbour at Boscastle as one of the most significant for miles around. Today, fishing still remains one of Boscastle’s greatest exports.
History of Boscastle
Boscastle is easily one of the best villages in Northern Cornwall. Its secluded location, as well as friendly locals and choice of places to eat make it a popular destination for locals and holiday makers alike. The ever present sea and wealth of nature on the village’s doorstep certainly help as well!
All of these elements also mean that the region is ever drawing in artists, writers and photographers. In the village itself, you’ll find plenty of local potteries and art galleries, with many of the artists finding inspiration in the local area. There are also numerous churches in the area, some of them dating back hundreds of years.
Until fairly recently, Boscastle had always been a fishing harbour. Since its beginnings in the 12th-Century and right up until the introduction of the main line rail service in the area in 1893, Boscastle was a thriving fishing harbour. The name of the village actually stems from ‘Botreaux Castle’. Sadly, there is little of the original Motte and Bailey Castle left- though it must have been impressive during its heydey!
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
Nestled in a little corner on the edges of the village, you’ll find the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the only museum of its kind in South West England. The collections inside are dedicated primarily to European witchcraft and houses a whole range of things to see (including Freemasonry and Wicca exhibitions).
Opened in 1951 and located on the Isle of Man (a small island lying between England and Ireland), the collection exchanged hands numerous times. The museum in Boscastle was opened in its current form in 1960. Unfortunately, the museum and its collections were heavily damaged during the floods of Boscastle in the early 2000s. However, it remains in operation to this day, and can be visited on almost every day of the year.
Thomas Hardy and Other Inspiration
The great writer Thomas Hardy was inspired by the charm and quaintness of Boscastle. He visited the village numerous times. And he spent his days here wandering along the coast, exploring the little villages of Northern Cornwall and penning numerous poems. One visit to Boscastle, and it’s not hard to see what inspired him…
Boscastle at Sunset
One of the best things about the position of Boscastle (because it’s definitely not the winding road leading into the village), is its position facing the sea. The angle of the coves, caves and coastal trail surrounding Boscastle mean that they provide the perfect viewing platform for seeing the sunset- particularly in the summer months. From here, you can expect long pastel skies and the sea stretching into the distance, as far as the eye can see…
The Village also happens to lie on the fringes of the South West Coastal Path, which stretches all the way around the counties of Devon and Cornwall. In fact, as a designated national trail, this is the longest footpath in the UK and reaches an impressive 630 miles in length. This means that one of the best things to do in Boscastle, is actually leave it to walk along the coastal path! From Boscastle, it is fairly easy to walk along the coastal path to nearby Tintagel, legendary birth place of King Arthur.