28. Tintagel to Port Isaac

July 2009

I spend the night near Boscastle. As with yesterdays walk I want to get the bus journey out of the way first, so I drive the short distance down to Tintagel and park in Kings Arthurs Car Park. By Royal Appointment, presumably. I have a quick look around Tintagel and then find the bus stop.

I soon find it. The bus timetable shows I need to change buses in Camelford but there is only a short wait for a connection. The bus arrives on time and I ask if a through ticket is available to Port Isaac. The driver confirms that there is and tells me it’s the same bus adding “I just roll around the number when we get to Camelford and carry on.” Makes me wonder why it’s not just the same route but it is good not to have to change (sadly you do have to change in Camelford now). The bus takes around half an hour and I get off at the top of the hill by the garage, as I am not sure if the bus goes down to the harbour. I don’t want to miss out on the seeing the harbour area though, so I head down there.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

If you are planning to do this walk it is worth mentioning that it is best to use the car park at the top of the hill roughly midway between Port Isaac and Port Gaverne, as Port Isaac itself is a restricted zone and the only other car park is on the (tidal) beach which would be no good for this walk (as you car would likely be washed out to sea before you could get back). The streets are narrow and the village is very picturesque. The harbour has a shingle and sand beach. If you have watched the ITV show Doc Martin you will surely recognise Port Isaac as the program is set here and the doctors house is on the opposite (west) side of the harbour.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

The weather is a little cloudy, but there is some blue sky about, so I am hoping for some sunshine later. After finishing my enjoyable walk around the village I begin the walk, which means heading up hill and along the tarmac path around the headland.

Leaving  Port Isaac

Leaving Port Isaac

Soon I can see around the coast to Lobber Point and Varley Head to the west.

Lobber Point and Varley Head

Lobber Point and Varley Head

Looking ahead I am quickly approaching the neighbouring village of Port Gaverne. This is another pretty harbour, although smaller than Port Isaac. There are a few boats moored up on the beach.

Port Gaverne

Port Gaverne

Port Gaverne

Port Gaverne

I round the back of the harbour and head up hill to Main Head. I say up hill, but this is a gentle hill, by South West Coast Path standards.

Leaving Port Gaverne

Leaving Port Gaverne

Once at Main Head I can see back to all the houses of Port Isaac crammed onto the cliff top.

View back to Port Isaac

View back to Port Isaac

Rounding the headland I come to the rocky little cove of Cartway Cove. There is a beach here at low tide but it’s high tide, so there isn’t at the moment.

Cartway Cove

Cartway Cove

The coast path climbs gently up hill and soon the sun comes through giving me a good, albeit hazy view back to Port Isaac. The coast ahead is rocky but does not look as hilly as many walks I have done recently. The coast path follows the top of the cliffs along the edge of fields here so I have good views throughout.

Near Ranie Point

Near Ranie Point

Near Raine Point I have gained quite a bit of height and get a good view back to Port Isaac. The coast here seems gentler and manages to keep bracken growing along it’s face.

IMG_1165

Soon I am descending towards the valley and beach at Barrett’s Zawn. This is a sandy and rocky beach and there looks to be a recent cliff fall on the side of the beach. There is a footpath marked on my map down to the beach here but I can’t see an obvious route down, so I assume this path has suffered from erosion or a landslip.

Barrett's Zawn

Barrett’s Zawn

The path climbs up the valley and almost immediatly I am descending into a second valley. Perhaps this walk will be more difficult after all.

At the next valley there is a narrow stream flowing through a little rocky valley and over the low cliffs. The path then climbs back up steeply again, but this does give a wonderful view back over the sandy beach (sadly inaccessible) and the rugged cliffs beyond.

Rugged cliffs looking south

Rugged cliffs looking south

This is a really beautiful spot and I stop here for a few minutes and enjoy the wonderful views to the west. The weather has improved and wild flowers dot the coast path, making this an especially good view.

I am glad of the breather as as soon as I have reached the top of the cliffs it is back down again into the 3rd valley.

Down into the 3rd valley

Down into the 3rd valley

This one is wider but less steep although still steep enough it needs steps. I cross the valley via the bridge at the bottom and stop for a rest on the rocks at the bottom of the valley for a few minutes. It is very peaceful here with just the sound of the stream. The folds in the cliff here suggest this valley has been farmed in the past. Heading out of the valley and continuing north the coast becomes more rugged and rocky – gone is the covering of bracken that has been on the cliffs so far.

Looking back the way I've come

Looking back the way I’ve come

Once up onto the cliff top, Tregardock Cliff, the coast path stays fairly flat for a while, which is a relief. After around ¾ of a mile of walking I reach Tregardock Beach. This is marked as a sandy beach on my map, but it turns out that this applies at low tide only. There is a rough and steep path down to it which I decide to follow. Sadly it not being low tide the beach is almost entirely rock, although I can see some sand to the right, but getting to it proves tricky. I sit on the rocks here for a while and take a few photographs of the sea splashing over the rocks. Unfortunatly as I get up to leave I fumble putting the lens cap back on my camera and drop it. It rolls over the cliffs and into the sea….

Tregardock Beach

Tregardock Beach

Refreshed after my walk down to the beach I take the steep path back up again to continue along the coast. At the wonderfully named Tregonnick Tail I enjoy the view back over the beach. Around ¾ of a mile of fairly gentle walking along the cliff top follows over Treligga Common (Tre is often found in place names in Cornwall I believe it is Cornish for settlement).

Ahead is another valley, leading to Backways Cove. There is a steep path down to this little valley. There has clearly been quarrying work here in the past as the cliffs show the scars of man made cuts. The rocky beach has caves around it, which are rather to square to have been formed naturally. There are also the remains of some ruined buildings here, but all is peaceful in the valley now.

Backways Cove

Backways Cove

Quarrying at Backways Cove

Quarrying at Backways Cove

Climbing back up the other side I have a wonderful view over the next valley, this one leading to the popular beach at Trebarwith Strand. The houses cluster in the steep valley here and there is a good sandy beach marked on the map, which is also shown as good for surfing. I am disappointed though as it must be high tide and I can’t see any sand at all.

Trebartwith Strand

Trebartwith Strand

I was looking forward to sitting on the beach here for a little while. As I near the valley I can see lots of people sitting on the rocks – clearly I am not the only one that has come here expecting a beach!

Trebartwith Strand

Trebartwith Strand

I am hot and thirsty so am pleased to see the shop here is open. I stop for a cold bottle of water and an ice cream and sit on the rocks to enjoy it. I sit here for around 20 minutes to cool off and can see the attraction of the place, even at high tide when there isn’t a beach. The valley and beach here are in the care of the National Trust now.

Trebartwith Strand

Trebartwith Strand

Trebartwith Strand

Trebartwith Strand

After a relaxing break I climb out of the village and back onto the coast path. Soon I come across more eveidence of quarrying, with a large part of the cliff having been quarried away and what looks to be the remains of some buildings. I presume the stone taken from here has been used to build many of the houses in the nearby villages. In one place the workers have left a tall shaft of rock remaining and it’s a wonder the weather hasn’t knocked this down over the years.

Quarrying at Bagalow Beach

Quarrying at Bagalow Beach

The quarrying looks to have carried on to the next beach, Hole Beach. There are what look like man-made caves cut into the cliffs here.

Hole beach

Hole beach

Looking back Trebarwith Strand is out of sight now.

View back to Trebarwith Strand

View back to Trebarwith Strand

I follow the coast path around the cliff tops with more evidence of quarrying. Soon I can see some houses on the top of the cliffs – a sign I am approaching Tintagel. Soon I reach the church which is somewhat remote from the rest of the village.

I can see Tintagel Head now which looks like an island, but isn’t quite. I can see the spetacular path within the castle heading out onto it. What a shame it is private and I have to pay to get out onto this headland.

Tintagel Head

Tintagel Head

Soon I am rounding the path to the castle and descending into the town. I have a quick look around and then head back to my car.

This has been another enjoyable walk in good weather. I was however hoping to spend some time on one of the sandy beaches and was a little disappointed that the tide was high all the time, so I couldn’t do it. I have finished this walk earlier than expected though and the sun is shining so I decide to drive around the coast to Bude and spend an hour or two on the beach there. This is lovely and wonderfully refreshing to my feet – I don’t feel so tired after this walk as the previous day. I stop for a takeway in Bude and then head back to where I am staying near Boscastle. I have packed only the South West Coast path guide book with me which proves a problem when I try to return and find the A39 has been closed due to an accident.

This means I have to divert off this road without a map (or sat nav) that covers the area so have to take a guess. The road is narrow and almost entirely single track as I wind through a few hamlets. Everyone else seems to be following this diversion, which means I often have to reverse back, as there inevtiably seems to be someone coming the other way at regular intervals. It is a frustrating journey back to the campsite I am staying at and I am glad to soon return to the A39 past the bit that has been closed and return on roads I am familiar with. Despite this minor hiccup, it has been a lovely day and another very enjoyable walk.

Here is details of the public transport needed for this walk. As mentioned previously, you need to change buses in Camelford now. Both routes run seven days a week in the summer and there is usually a good connection in Camelford, but check the times carefully first, as neither route is frequent. In the winter, there is no service on Sunday.

Western Greyhound route 595 : Bude – Widemouth Bay – Crackington Haven – Boscastle – TintagelCamelford – St Kew – Wadebridge.

Western Greyhound route 584 : Camelford – Delabole – Port GavernePort Isaac – Trewetha – Polzeath – Rock – Tredrizzick – St Minver – Wadebridge

Here are the complete set of photographs from this walk : Main Link | Details | Slideshow

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