Crackington Haven to Tintagel

Sunday 17th May 2009

11.75 miles of walking including 11.25 miles on South West Coast Path

Breakfast (scrambled egg and smoked salmon) was as delicious as we'd expected after last night's fantastic meal and by the time we left Bears & Boxes we felt like part of the family; we said goodbye to Fran and then Robert gave us a lift back down to Crackington Haven.

We were initially walking into driving rain, so we probably didn't appreciate the scenery to the full (though what we could see was spectacular). We took the permissive path behind Cambeak and then followed the cliff top. There has been some slumping of the cliffs and the National Trail Guide makes much of the fact that you should take care in the approach to Rusey Cliff and not descend too far; however you have to descend quite a long way in order to cross the stream at point E in the guidebook. There were a large number of feral goats in this area, apparently used to control the scrubby vegetation, and the weather began to improve so we were able to photograph the view back to a natural arch and Cambeak.

It was dry around midday so we decided to stop for lunch before it started to rain again (though actually it didn't rain seriously again for the rest of the day); we sat on a bench with views of Gill Rock and ate Fran's delicious sandwiches. There is an alternative inland route to Pentargon but we decided to go around Beeny Cliff; this was exciting walking, with glorious views and high winds (and groups of walkers - Duke of Edinburgh students perhaps - coming towards us as we descended). Later on we descended still further to Pentargon before climbing steeply to Hillsborough.

The views as you approach the entrance to Boscastle Harbour are quite spectacular and as you turn the corner to approach the harbour itself you realise what a wonderful natural harbour it is. It is also the case that the Boscastle flood of 16th August 2004, whilst undoubtedly causing much anguish at the time, actually seems to have done Boscastle a lot of good, putting it firmly on the tourist trail. It was buzzing with people when we were there.

Boscastle is a pretty little place but we decided to press straight on towards Tintagel. We crossed to the opposite side of the harbour and climbed gently to the promontary fort at Willapark. The walking was generally easier than this morning though there were more people about. We stopped for a short break just above the natural archway of Ladies Window. Tintagel was visible in the distance for quite a while, but it seemed to take us a long time to get there. We passed a caravan site then reached Rocky Valley, where the rocks have been carved by water action. We passed or were passed by several people (mostly walking dogs) as we descended into Rocky Valley and then climbed out of it. One couple, who overtook us but were then sitting on a bench at the top, compared themselves to hares and us to tortoises. So far as our progress when walking is concerned, that's about right.

After Benoath Cove and Bossiney Haven we reached the second 'Willapark' (also an ancient fort) in two miles - confusing or what! Slightly later we were suddenly confronted by a group of shetland ponies right on the path. We followed around several inlets and then left the coast path at Barras Nose.

We walked up towards the village past the monstrous mock gothic Camelot Castle Hotel. To be fair, from their website it seems nicer inside than out, but I was very happy to be staying at Bosayne Guest House, just round the corner. Keith Walker welcomed us warmly, served us tea and home-made biscuits and showed us to Room 1, which has lovely sea views. Keith and Julie are, like so many of the owners of guest houses we've stayed in, relative newcomers to Cornwall, having had a 'previous life' in Kent. The guest house is comfortable and welcoming and they are tying very hard to be environmentally friendly. In the evening we had a very pleasant meal at The Cornishman Inn and it was here that we were introduced to local Rattler cider for the first time - delicious.

Following day