North Cornwall Coastal Stars
Published: Monday 28th Oct 2013
Written by: Ginny Kay
North Cornwall boasts some spectacular coastal scenery and is well known as a great destination for family beach holidays, but there is so much more to explore in this historic and diverse area. Boscastle is a popular tourist destination due to the pretty village and unique harbour. In times gone by it was a busy port, importing limestone and coal and exporting slate, as well as a fishing harbour. Today some small fishing boats still operate from this safe harbour, the only one along a twenty mile stretch of dangerous coast lined with formidable cliffs. The South West Coastal Path meanders over the National Trust headlands and through the village which offers a welcome resting place. The Rivers Jordan and Valency flow down two steeply wooded valleys and meet in the heart of the village and in 1991 a flash flood brought devastation and world attention to Boscastle. A major rescue operation delivered 91 people to safety without any loss of life. The resulting restoration work has added benefits for the whole community as well as improving access and services for visitors. There are some lovely walks to be taken along the riverside or the coastal paths. Visitors can enjoy great local produce at a number of restaurants, cafes and pubs, which serve the village, as well as buying unique souvenirs to take home.
Just along the coast a short way is the famous village of Tintagel. None other than King Arthur is said to have lived here, from his birth to his death, on the charming peninsula promontory. Many people visit the ruins of his castle, which is set high upon cliffs overlooking the sea. It remains an area of great archaeological interest where in the 1930’s the largest concentration if Mediterranean pottery used for oil or wine amongst other luxuries was uncovered. Discoveries date back to the Roman era when it is believed to be an important trading post and approximately 100 pieces of Romana-British pottery dating from the third or fourth century have been discovered.
Wadebridge is known to many as the start of the Camel Trail, although it actually sits in the middle of this stretch of former railway line, which reaches from Padstow at the mouth of the Camel River up to Bodmin. This lovely six mile stretch of safe cycle-way and footpath meanders from the town, alongside the river giving a most scenic route-way to the Coast. Bikes can be hired at Wadebridge for the journey or vice versa from Padstow. A more challenging and tree lined route can be taken up towards Bodmin. Wadebridge is a thriving town with local importance to its rural community. The Royal Cornwall Showground is just outside the town and hosts the brilliant three day County Show every June, displaying the best of Cornish Country Life annually. Many other events use these excellent facilities throughout the year. A pretty arched bridge now fords the River Camel for a safe passage to the other bank. Historically this was a ford and the original bridge was built from wool packs provided by the local farmers, to prevent the on-going loss of life as people tried to cross this fats flowing tidal river. Before 1991 the town became a bit of a bottleneck for traffic with holidaymakers flooding into the area, but since the new by-pass road was built Wadebridge is now a peaceful calm town to enjoy. There are a number of unique boutique shops with designer clothes, arts and crafts and antique furniture, as well as the now legendary Camel Wine where you can purchase a bottle of Cornwall. Combined with a great array of local eateries, it’s a lovely town to visit in its own right, and well worth basing a holiday here.
We can't really discuss North Cornwall without also mentioning the great sea-side town of Bude. Famous now for its surfing beach and the host of other outdoor activities on offer, it began its popularity back in Victorian times, as a genteel destination to "take the air and sea-bathe". In the 19th century however it was also famous for completely different reasons, that of being a notorious wreckers haunt, and woe betide ships carrying expensive goods, such as rums and silks, as they would be lured to a not so safe haven. A recorded 80 ships lost in this area between 1824 and 1874.