Day 059: Port Isaac to Boscastle

Distance: 13.52 miles

Ascent: 6916 feet

Weather: Minor Snow and Cold Winds

Accommodation: Wellington Hotel, Boscastle (Kindly Complimentary) 


I fell asleep very early last night, but also woke very early this morning to the windows rattling in the wind. This was unnerving given the forecasts for the day. Sometimes I wonder if these diaries sound to confident, but this morning and yesterday evening I was very anxious regards the weather for today. I had extended the past couple of days deliberately to make today a bit shorter, having known the forecast.

When I went to bed last night I felt I had three options. Firstly, completely cancel the walk for the day. Secondly walk inland on the roads to Boscastle. Thirdly walk as scheduled along the coast path, and abort if issues. When I woke up this morning the forecast for the weather was not too bad (still a little snowy, little windy & cold) till 2pm, and after that all bets were off with serious winds, blizzardy conditions and only an idiot would be on the cliffs in those conditions. So, my plan was to leave at first light, walk the 6.5 miles to Trebarwith Strand along the coast path in the better conditions, have a tea/snack and then reassess the final 6.5 miles of the day from there. With the main aim to try and get to Boscastle by 1:30.

So, I set of and began the climb out of Port Isaac, and through Port Gaverne and out onto the coast path proper. The weather was not as bad as I had expected, with only moderate winds, a small amount of snow though it was very cold. This first part was fairly remote with nothing till Trebarwith Strand and is graded as one of the toughest parts of the South West Coast Path. So, on the flat parts I went as fast as I could, making up for the decrease in speed on the many steep sections up and down. The wind and snow were not having a significant effect on the walk, but there were some places where the path actually had thick layers of ice on top of it. These were very obvious, so unlike black ice you couldn’t miss them, almost all of them you could walk around but there were two I just gently had to shimmy and slide across until the ice finished. I made significantly quicker progress than I had expected and despite the many steep ups and downs I reached Trebarwith Strand just after 10. This stretch had been incredibly scenic.

The pub was open and surprise, surprise I was the only customer in these conditions (though 1 other dog walking couple did turn up). So, I had a tea and in fact a full english to regain strength, and warm up. The weather had been better than expected and the forecast was still safe till 2pm so I made the decision to take the coast path all the way to Boscastle and set of up the hill out of Trebarwith.

I passed several slate quarries and it was interesting to see a couple of tall stacks in the middle or on the edge of these quarries and I presume these were seams of unusable slate. And before long I reached Tintagel and it’s ‘castle’ on the island. This is supposedly, possibly the birthplace of King Arthur, most likely a fictitious character anyway. But regardless of the dubious history it is a stunning place and the fairly extreme steps and bridge up to the island are quite dramatic. There is currently a raging debate about having a new bridge across to the island to enable more visitors as well as the disabled to be able to access the island. A competition was held and several really interesting ideas were proposed, the winning design was actually two cantilevers one from each side that don’t quite meet (inch gap). I think this would be a really interesting addition to the landscape, but can understand that some people may think it would ruin the natural landscape. See architects image below.

Photograph: Wicks and Ney & Partners

Photograph: Wicks and Ney & Partners


The ascent didn’t let up for the final few miles, and my legs were aching a lot on the final stepped climb up to the lookout station just short of Boscastle, but from there it was just a short climb down into the incredibly pretty Boscastle Quay. I had made it by 1:30 and before the storm and grabbed some snacks before checking into the very kindly complimentary room at the Wellington Hotel in Boscastle. Less than 30 minutes later the snow came in much thicker and the wind increased dramatically. As I type it is a blizzard outside.

So, a really successful & stunningly scenic day, and I am incredibly glad to be in a warm room. I was actually fairly fortunate with the weather. It will be interesting to see the state of the paths tomorrow.

charles compton