OS Grid ref:- SX097914
The attractive harbour of Boscastle is situated on the ruggedly beautiful North Cornwall Coast.
Boscastle, known in Cornish as Kastel Boterel, is a highly popular tourist destination, it was at one time a thriving port and was once Launceston's port for shipping slate, corn and tanning bark, but the advent of the railways to the north of Cornwall brought about its decline.
Boscastle village clings to the sides of the highly attractive Valency Valley, which is known for its connections to the West country author Thomas Hardy.
The valley runs inland for around five miles and is particularly beautiful in the spring and delightful in autumn, a stream wends through the valley on its way to the sea. Much of the valley is now owned by the National Trust.
The village has many picturesque old cottages with uneven roofs and characterful slate porches. The quaint medieval harbour still provides anchorage for many small fishing boats and was once widely used for exporting slate and grain. Boscastle has a variety of gift and craft shops, tea rooms, and offers a range of accommodation and restaurants. There is a modern information centre which is open to visitors during the summer months.
The Museum of Witchcraft, which is housed in a converted water mill, is home to the largest collection of witchcraft related articles in the world, including charms, spells, curses and even an assortment of broomsticks and cauldrons!The museum holds a large number of artefacts, many of which once belonged to the museum's founder Cecil Williamson, including human remains, and currently also holds the Richell collection of witchcraft regalia that was loaned to the museum in 2000 from the Netherlands.
The owner of the museum is himself a warlock and the museum is visited regularly by a local witch. Tales of witchcraft have always been abundant in Cornwall, with its rich tradition of supersition and legend and witches still practice at many sacred sites in the county.
The inner harbour at Boscastle was constructed in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville and replaced an ancient harbour which once occupied the site, the harbour entrance appears impossibly narrow. The harbour itself, along with 61 acres of adjoining cliffs it is now owned by the National Trust. Sea trips are available from local boatmen to view the surrounding cliffs and superb coastline.
A short walk from the quayside ascends to the Lookout, from which, on a clear day, unrivalled views of the panoramic North Cornwall Coast can be viewed. The coastal walks from Boscastle to nearby Tintagel Castle are spectacular, particularly so in spring when the cliffs are awash with a profusion of wildflowers. In June, with the aid of binoculars, puffins can be sighted on Long Island.
The Boscastle Food, Art and Crafts Festival, a unique event is held on Sat, 7th and Sun, 8th October.
Nearby Forrabury Common is a unique survival of Celtic land tenure and consists of long rectangular land strips known as 'stitches'.
The Boscastle Flood
On 16 August, 2004, the Boscastle flash flood, the worst in living memory occurred on 16 August, 2004 and caused extensive damage. After torrential rain had fallen over a period of five hours in the afternoon, (at the peak of the downpour 24mm of rain in just fifteen minutes had been recorded at nearby Lesnewth.) The downpour lead to a 7' rise in river levels.
A bridge over the stream collapsed , debris gathered underneath this was understood to have been holding the torrent at bay, and a 10' wave surged down Boscastle main street, sweeping cars in its path out to sea and causing severe damage to buildings, although luckily there was no loss of life.
A rescue operation was launched and lasted from mid afternoon until 2am the next day.