North Cornwall

Before we left North Devon for home (which at the time was in west Surrey) we headed on down the coast to have another look at the North Cornwall coastal towns of Boscastle, Tintagel and Port Isaac – famous for the Doc Martin series on ITV. Of course getting there involved a stop off at another beach – Sandymouth, and the return was via the coastal road and a quick stop at Widecombe Bay. Writing these travelogues makes me understand why it is that I arrive back from  holiday needing a holiday. I don’t seem to do relaxing!

First stop was at Sandymouth at the very north of North Cornwall – another stony beach, though from its name I guess that there is a sandy beach at low tide. We weren’t there at low tide however. The area is gorgeous though and I can understand why people hike along the south-west path. I’m considering it myself if I ever get to live a little closer! There are breath-taking walks in either direction: north to Duckpool, south to Northcott Mouth with dizzying views along this stunning coastline.

Next along the coast is Boscastle, a village and harbour protected by two stone walls built in 1584 which lies between Bude and Tintagel. It is a popular tourist spot with lovely walks along the harbour to the headland and unusually, a witchcraft museum. A flash flood in 2004 caused extensive damage to the village, but fortunately with no loss of life. (photos are from 2006)

Tintagel further south is of course famous for the Arthurian legends. The ruined castle is perched high on the dramatic cliffs a short walk from the village. It is believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur and is one of the most romantic and intriguing places in Britain. Whatever the truth is there is no denying that it is located in a spectacular setting on the North Cornish coast. (photos from 2006)

Our final destination on this day was Port Isaac (Cornish: Porthysek). Another former fishing village, the main catch being pilchards, today it is mainly a place of second homes and self-catering cottages. Fishing still takes place, but now it is mainly crab and lobster. Walking around the picturesque harbour you may come across Squeezee Belly Alley  the world’s narrowest thoroughfare at only 18 inches across the narrowest point. It is the home of the Fisherman’s Friends, a sea shanty singing group and is the fictional village of Port Wenn where Doc Martin is filmed. Southwards is the village of Rock where you can take a ferry to Padstow.

We parked at the top of the village (I don’t recommend trying to take a car to the harbour as the road is very narrow and twists at the bottom which can cause difficulty, especially if you meet an oncoming car) and followed the footpath around the top of the cliff before heading down the narrow street edged with galleries, eateries and granite built cottages. It is a very popular village and extremely busy in the summer making parking a problem, but it is a lovely spot to spend a few hours and if you are based here for your holiday it is close to plenty of gorgeous beaches and has good access to the south-west path. After a walk around the harbour and exploring a few of the narrow back lanes we made our way back up the hill stopping for freshly cooked fish and chips en route eating them whilst admiring the fabulous views along that rugged coastline.


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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

37 thoughts on “North Cornwall”

  1. That took me back Jude; to a great holiday in Boscastle in the 1970’s, and a not so great one in Looe, in the mid 1990’s, where we ‘did’ Tintagel, in torrential rain. (It was July of course!)
    Great photos too- as always.
    Regards from Norfolk, Pete. X

    1. Rain is not FUN on a summer holiday. I stayed in a caravan park near Bude some time in the ’60s and remember sailing at Looe with my brothers. All I can remember of that is them telling me to duck every time the boom swung my way! I suspect they did it on purpose 🙂

  2. Great Jude,
    I have been waiting for this episode as I am a great fan of Doc Martin and am familiar with Tintagel as well. Those streets really are steep and narrow.


  3. “It is believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur and is one of the most romantic and intriguing places in Britain” — High praise! I would love to go see this too.

    1. You need a good head for heights Pat. Those cliffs are very steep and the steps and bridges very narrow. It is wild and rugged, but also very beautiful.

  4. Port Isaacs looks gorgeous, Jude. I’ve never been a Doc Martin fan, but you can see why they chose it. Can’t believe it’s all those years since the Boscastle floods! My favourite photo is your one out to the Headland. 🙂

    1. It is lovely, but very busy. Like a lot of these former fishing villages it’s pretty much all about the tourists. I’m guessing not many Cornish folk are living there now.

  5. Great photos, Jude. I remember those “dizzying steps” at Tintagel. You’ve just reminded me that I have lots of pics which I haven’t got around to sharing yet. I love Cornwall, and sometimes think I should move there. 🙂

    1. Every time I look at my photos of Cornwall they remind me why I am drawn to the county. Just look at the colour of that water! Perhaps I should be searching around Bude for a home. Much quieter up that way.

  6. omg, omg, omg!! your photos of Boscastle and Tintagel are amazing! I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me before, but it’s quite mountainous. I love the craggy cliffs and the stair path, and … well, everything! This looks like a hiker’s paradise.

    1. I wouldn’t call it mountainous, but there are some steep cliffs along the coastline. I suspect if you were here you’d be walking the 630 mile south-west coastal path. 😀

  7. More beautiful photos of Cornwall to tempt me to return, and finally, somewhere I’ve been to. In 1999, when we were in UK with our daughters for six weeks, we took them to Tintagel. It was magical and the day was much like yours – endless blue sky and an ocean to match. It was also very hot and very busy, in mid-July. We definitely need to go again and stay for longer at a different time of year. That day we drove from Beer, in Devon, to Tintagel and then back to Bath. Crazy!! Even though a driving day like that is not unusual for us in Australia, we would never do that kind of day now when overseas.

      1. Yes, we wouldn’t do it like that again. The trouble is we see distance from an Australian perspective and think oh, that’s only 200 km. Not far at all. But there is way more traffic and many roads aren’t for fast travel so it tends to take much longer than we are used to. Lesson learned from that trip!

  8. We saw the Fisherman’s Friends at Celtic Connections once – they were great! They were the support but we preferred them to the main act, Seth Lakeman I think. Beautiful pictures as ever, Jude.

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