Boscastle is a tiny port with a natural harbour, set in a narrow ravine, and boasts some very attractive thatches and white-washed cottages. Before the railways, Boscastle was a thriving port, serving much of North Cornwall. It has come to prominence recently as a result of the terrible floods of summer 2004. The accommodation and shops on higher ground were unaffected by the floods and it is hoped that many of the other premises will be open again in time for the coming season.
For many years, Boscastle has had a Witchcraft Museum, with a ghoulish mixture of exhibits. This was severely damaged by the floods, but will soon be up and running once again. There is also a pottery in the village in addition to several gift shops. Following the footpath to the left of the quayside will take you to the Lookout, one of the most wonderful vantage points from which to see the rugged coastline. Much of the land in and around Boscastle is owned by the National Trust.
At the top of the village, in the direction of Camelford, is Bottreau Castle, and at the top of the Valency Valley is St Merthiana Church, set in a tiny copse that is almost encircled by the lane. Boscastle was once a favourite haunt of author, Thomas Hardy, and the setting for one of his novels, A Pair of Blue Eyes. It was here that he met his wife, Emma. In fact, the restoration of nearby St Juliot Church was worked upon by Hardy when he was still a practising architect.
Boat trips can be taken from Boscastle Harbour, down the coast as far as Long Island. During the breeding season you may be lucky to see razorbills, guillemots, and puffins. There are also seals in these waters. Other trips go as far as 5 miles offshore and take trippers wreck fishing.
The coastline around Boscastle is truly exceptional. The National Trust own the cliffs of Penally Point and Willapark which form the imposing headlands either side of the harbour entrance (north and south respectively). Willapark is easily identifiable by the small castellated white coastguard lookout tower perched on the end. The view from here has been utilised since the Iron Age when there was a cliff fort here.
The adjoining Forrabury Stitches are a series of fields that have been farmed since medieval times. They are divided into ancient ‘stitchmeal’ cultivation plots and are still worked using the original crop rotation method. Nearby is the pretty little church of St Symphonian’s which dates back to Norman times.
Penally Point on the northern side of the harbour is home to a blow hole which occasionally shoots out plumes of water at low tide when there is enough swell running.
The strenuous 7 mile coast path walk between Boscastle and Crackington Haven is a favourite with walkers with several features along the coast here that merit a visit in their own right. The Strangles beach is large sand/shingle beach at the bottom of a large landslip with a rock arch, the Northern Door. Just south of here is High Cliff, the highest point on the Cornish coast path. Nearby is the sheer black cliff of Buckator and around Fire Beacon Point is Pentargon inlet with an impressive waterfall which cascades down to the sea below