Boscastle, Cornwall

Boscastle village is on the North Cornwall Coast 14 miles south from Bude and 5 miles from Tintagel, a conservation area, and Boscastle is one of the few remaining unspoilt harbour villages in Cornwall. Designated an Area of Outstanding beauty, the National Trust own and care for the medieval harbour and surrounding coastline.

Boscastle is a natural harbour at the mouth of the River Valency. The North coast of Cornwall is notoriously sparse in sheltered harbours, and Boscastle is a harbour because a sharp zigzag entrance makes it safe from storms. The small harbour now is the home to a few local fishing boats but was once a busy hub for trade between Wales, Bristol and the south of England.

Its name comes from the de Botterell family, who once owned Bottreaux Castle here, but now only a few stones of the castle remain.

The first pier was built here in 1547, and there have been a succession of piers since then. The 19th century one was partially destroyed in 1941 by a drifting sea mine. It has since been restored by the National Trust, who own much of the land round the village and the harbour. The NT holdings include the cliffs of Penally Point and Willapark which guard the harbour entrance, Forrabury Stitches, above the village and divided into ancient 'stitchmeal' cultivation plots, and large areas of the Valency Valley.

Boscastle village grew up round the harbour, which was used to export slate and corn. It consists today of a number of charming old buildings, including in Fore Street "The Smugglers" and "Tinkers". The are lime washed cottages, a water mill, and two pubs which date from the Napoleonic Wars - the Wellington and The Napoleon.

There is an information centre in the Old Forge, and a Museum of Witchcraft, and the Crystal Cave to visit

A short walk up the river valley, brings you to the Church of St Juliot, restored by Thomas Hardy in 1870, when he was a young architect. he courted and married the rector's sister-in-law, Emma. many of Hardy's poems, plus his romantic novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes, describe the area.

Forrabury Church is to the south of the village, not far off the coastal path.

Bottreaux Castle , from which Boscastle got its name, has vanished but they say many of the village houses were built from its stone, including stone windows in the Wellington.

Boscastle Flood - 16th August 2004

The Boscastle flood was a dramatic example of a "flash flood". Flash floods usually occur when a lot of rain falls over a small catchment basin in a short space of time. The ground will produce extreme run-off and a flood peak that reaches its maximum in just a few minutes or hours. The flash flood was caused by a collision of winds. The day had been very warm,

A wet southerly air flow mixed with ward sea breezes and they shot upwards with a dangerous mix of warm, moist, unstable air. Bodmin Moor caused the air mass to accelerate upwards even more. Thunderclouds zoomed over 10km high, their tops forming anvil shapes as high-level winds swept air away from the storm. The thunderclouds caused torrential downpours with more than 5 inches of rain falling around the town in just a few hours, and perhaps even more over higher ground.

With the high ground already saturated from recent rains, so the the storm waters ran straight off the ground into the steep river valleys.

In Boscastle, the steep-sided valleys acted as huge funnels for this water, channelling it very quickly down to the sea. But the rivers soon overflowed and the flood waters tumbled dramatically into the town

The river Valency and Jordan meet in the town before they enter the harbour so there were two large sources of water.

Boscastle was badly flooded in August 2004 it is now fully recovered, renewed and ready to welcome you.

Boscastle flood


Boscastle Flood report from UK Government

Boscastle: 16th August 2004 David Rowe

Boscastle Cornwall Genealogical information from Genuki

The Book of Boscastle: The Parishes of Forrabury and Minster Anne Knight, Rod Knight

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