SWCP Day 9. Crackington Haven to Tintagel

Today’s distance walked – approx 18.4kms (11.4 miles).
Ascent – approx 1065m (3494ft)

I woke up at 6.30am after an OK sleep on my epic, but sloping pitch. I had a lazy morning and didn’t set off until about 8.15am (spider checks took a bit of time). As I got going I felt much more positive about today as it wasn’t raining yet and the wind wasn’t too strong! The day was much the same as yesterday, and the path took me over beautiful sea cliffs (the highest in Cornwall) with very steep valleys in between.

Between Crackington Haven and Boscastle
Between Crackington Haven and Boscastle

Today’s trail was nice. The path itself wasn’t too overgrown and in many parts it was beautiful heathland with heather, bracken and short grasses.

Watching the waves crash into the rocks
Watching the waves crash into the rocks

The sea cliffs were amazing. When the path went down low, I could hear the booming of the waves against the jagged rocks. Peering over, I could see lots of caves in the rocks at sea level. Just before Boscastle there was a spectacular inlet with sheer cliffs, sea caves and lots of sea birds.

I had numerous encounters with animals today, namely a pack of horses, sheep and cows. I’ve noticed that in the UK animals are not nearly as scared of humans a they are in New Zealand. Over here you often have to be face to face with a cow to get it to move! I actually had to step over a sheep to get through the gate this morning, as it wouldn’t budge 🙂

The sheep that wouldn't move
The sheep family that wouldn’t move!

I got to Boscastle at lunchtime. This is definitely my favourite village yet – I loved everything about it. It is a tiny harbour complete with stone jetty in a tiny natural inlet in between all these huge sea cliffs. It was settled in the 1200s but became a thriving port in the 1800s.

Boscastle harbour
Boscastle harbour

It has beautiful old stone houses, rings of character, and a nice range of amenities and eateries. Boscastle (and Crackington Haven) had survived some pretty terrible flooding in recent history, and as a result the river running through town had been widened.

Seaward from Boscastle harbour
Seaward from Boscastle harbour

I strolled through the village and had an award winning Cornish pasty. I preferred this one, to the Devon one the other day – it was more tasty, and I preferred the pastry 🙂 For those not in the know, back on the day Cornish pasties used to be commonly given to miners for their lunch. They often had a savoury half with potatoes and meat, and a sweet half. The special crimped crusts of the pastry used to be made like that because the miners would have arsenic on their hands. They would hold the pasty by the crust and throw the crust away afterwards.

Boscastle to Tintagel
Boscastle to Tintagel

After Boscastle it was a relatively short section to Tintagel. This section is one of the most popular on the South West Coast Path. It is certainly very beautiful, and only with a few steep valleys.
By the time I reached Tintagel it was misty and drizzling again. The first thing you see coming over the cliffs is the huge Camelot Hotel – a Victorian monstrosity completed in 1899. Rising out of the sea mist it looked like something from a horror film, but I’m sure it would look very different on a beautiful sunny day!

Tintagel castle ruins
Tintagel castle ruins

Tintagel is the supposed birthplace of King Arthur and it is steeped in legend. There are some spectacular ruins of a historical castle on the cliffs here (not that I could see much of them as the mist rolled in) and it is one of the most visited historical sights in Britain.

As the weather had turned to custard and it was very cold, I didn’t look around the castle, but checked into the Headland camp site and got some more clothes on. I walked into the village a little later, then had an early dinner. I’m hoping the weather might improve a bit tomorrow, so I can check out the castle before I leave.

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