Tintagel to Boscastle Walk

Image courtesy of trewena.com

In Brief

Distance: 5 miles
Expected duration: 4 hours
Starting point: Glebe Cliff car park, just off Castle Road and next to Tintagel Castle, Tintagel
Finishing point: Boscastle Harbour, Boscastle
Difficulty: 4/5. There are some extremely steep sections on this route and the path gets really narrow at times as it rolls over high and steep sea cliffs
Wildlife to discover: Look out for seals on the rocks or out in the water near Willapark, which is a headland close to Boscastle at the end of the walk
Best Insta-worthy spot: Ladies Window. Hands down. Just past the halfway point of this walk is a legendary stone archway that looks through to a world of dramatic cliffscapes
Random fact: Close to the start of the walk is a headland called Barras Nose. This was the first piece of coastline ever bought by the National Trust in 1897 after there was uproar when a hotel was planned to be built there

King Arthur and his brave knights may once have toiled in their armour along this spectacular and challenging rollercoaster of a walk. Of course, they probably didn’t because, well, we’re not sure any of them was actually real but this hike is nevertheless legendary. There’s Tintagel Castle, there’s Ladies Window, there’s Rocky Valley, there’s Boscastle Harbour and there are cliffs and seascapes of mythical proportions as Cornwall’s rugged north coast is showcased like the king of kings it is. Set alongside five miles of plunging sea cliffs, this route is not for the faint-hearted. But you will be rewarded with vistas more magical than Merlin’s spells.

Your quest will take you from Tintagel to Boscastle. It should take about four hours but, if you are returning to Tintagel and doing this as a 10-mile circular walk, then do allow the whole day to complete it. Begin at the National Trust-owned car park at Glebe Cliff, which is just south of Tintagel Castle and next to the fascinating and moody St Materiana’s Church. Walk towards the castle before taking the path down steep steps under its spectacular (and fairly new) bridge to the beach below. Then just keep following the coast along the path as it climbs again up on to the Barras Nose headland. It’s worth stopping here to take in the fine views back to the castle and down the coast towards Boscastle.

Map created with © OpenStreetMap contributors, available under the Open Database License

As the path continues, there’s plenty of opportunities along the jagged coast to spot seabirds nesting on the sheer cliffs before you turn inland to round the beautiful Rocky Valley. This steep sheltered inlet provides a respite after the long stretch of exposed cliffs. There’s a serene waterfall here with a bridge that crosses it next to labyrinthine carvings that some claim were made in the Bronze Age. From the valley, the path ascends again towards Ladies Window, a stone archway that makes for an incredible Instagram post. After her, the island of Grower Rock that sits just offshore is worth a few pics too.

The final leg of the walk wanders past the wonderful Willapark headland before rounding the corner into Boscastle. The ace views don’t end here as you are greeted by the narrow and picturesque harbour that stretches up into the valley that houses the village. The harbour is a working one and it’s worth popping down for a wander around the fishing boats and stacked lobster pots. If you want to return to Tintagel without walking back along the route then catch the 95 bus which runs every couple of hours.

Why we love this walk: As if this corner of Cornwall wasn’t steeped in enough folklore and legend, this hike adds a new level of magic and mystery to the whole affair. The constantly spectacular views, the cliff descent under Tintagel Castle’s bridge, the mesmerisingly beautiful Ladies Window, the waterfall and mysterious wall carvings at Rocky Valley and the magical Boscastle Harbour. This really feels like a quest for the Holy Grail of walks.