Hayle to Newquay / Porth to Portgaverne / Delabole to Mawganporth


Delabole slate quarryThe vast crater at Delabole one of the biggest holes in Europe, 425ft deep and half a mile wide, it is a slate quarry that dates back to the 11th century and has been worked continuously since the early 17th century. A pool of vivid blue-green, the colour created by natural minerals, lies at the bottom of the crater, and a fenced walk runs for 1½ miles round the quarry.

DelaboleDuring the reign of Elizabeth I, five quarries existed within the vicinity and delivered slate "throughout the realm, and even exporting it by sea to Brittany and the Netherlands". In 1841, the five quarries formed themselves into a single unit and the Delabole Slate Company was formed.

Delabole Wind FarmNorth-east of the quarry are the tall wind turbines of Gaia Energy Centre and Delabole Wind Farm, which has been operational since 1991. The wind farm consists of ten turbines, giving a total capacity of 4MW, enough power to meet more than half of the needs of Delabole and Camelford.

It was Britain’s first commercial wind farm and has a visitor centre called Campus XXl. Unfortunately a notice on the gate told us it had closed due to lack of support.


Camelford The small market town of Camelford was situated on an old medieval trading route and was granted a royal charter in 1259 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. In 1552 Edward VI gave Camelford the right to send two members to Parliament, a right which continued until 1832 when the Reform Bill abolished the two "rotten boroughs". The North Cornwall Museum has a reconstruction of a late 19th century moorland cottage, as well as tools and domestic equipment and a collection of pottery.

Arthurian CentreCamelford is often claimed to be the site of King Arthur's Camelot. This legend is a blend of fact and fiction. The 12th century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth said he was King of the Britons and won many battles against the invading Anglo-Saxons. Many historians believe that the real King Arthur was a 6th century chieftain who was probably born in the West Country. Stories of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table arose from the works of writers such as Sir Thomas Malory and Tennyson.

Arthur's StoneThe name of the real warrior king who died in a battle at Slaughters Bridge is lost in time but there is an inscribed stone slab, about 8 ft long, called Arthur's Grave. We visited the Arthurian Centre that now includes a walk to the battlefield and the stone lies beside a stream.

Trebarwith Strand

Trebarwith StrandThere is a lovely sandy beach here that is completely covered at high tide for several hours. It is situated at the bottom of a deep valley with black crumbling cliffs. To get to the sand we had to negotiate a platform of large flat, lumpy rocks and on the cliffs are signs warning of the potential danger of rock falls.

Gull RockLifeguards patrol the beach in the summer as there is a risk of being swept off the rocks by giant waves which are great for surfing. There are quite a few large rocks to shelter behind and pools for the kids to explore. Just offshore is the doughnut shaped Gull Rock.

Trebarwith StrandThe coastline is composed of old Devonian slate and the colour of the water - a light turquoise green in warm weather - is caused by the traces of copper in it. There is evidence of slate workings along the cliff path to Tintagel - the hole in the ground type as at Lanterdan and cliff face quarries at Hole Beach. Tram lines and old buildings are still visible.


The Old Post Office Tintagel used to be known as Trevena (Cornish: Tre war Venydh) and the Old Post Office is one of the few remaining picturesque buildings in the area as most of the old cottages were demolished to make way for hotels and lodging houses during the 19th century, when the Legend of King Arthur grew. The town is pretty commercialised and busy with tourist shops and eating places.

The Old Post Office gardenThe Old Post Office is a tiny 14th century manor house that was converted into a letter receiving office after the introduction of the penny post in 1844. The National Trust has carefully restored it and the post room has been fitted out as a Victorian post office. The interior of the cottage has been furnished with oak of the type that would have been found in local cottages and the stairs to the gallery are ‘interesting’.

King Arthur's Great Halls were built in the 1930s and although the building looks plain from the outside it is astounding inside. Built from 52 different types of Cornish granite, there are 70 stained-glass windows telling the story of Arthur and his knights. A round table and massive granite throne complete the picture.

King Arthur's Great HallsKing Arthur's Great HallsKing Arthur's Great HallsKing Arthur's Great Halls

Tintagel fully exploits the supposed site of Arthur's court - a craggy headland, called the Island, but actually connected to the mainland by a strip of land. We lost count of the number of steps we climbed during our visit, on the way up, a bridge and 300 steps cling to the sheer rock face.

Tintagel CastleTintagel Castleon the way downview to Merlin's Cave

Tintagel CastleThe ruins are the 13th century Tintagel Castle that had been a stronghold of Cornish kings for centuries before the castle was built and archaeologists have found evidence of a high status Celtic monastery dating to the period following the withdrawal of the Romans.

It is difficult to prove if Arthur did exist in the 5th century, but there was a great warrior who had some kind of fortress where the castle is today. When the conquering Normans arrived, it made sense for Earl Richard of Cornwall to build a castle on the spot where his legendary predecessors had held court although it was not a strategic position. It is still owned by the Duke of Cornwall today.Church of St Materiana

The Norman Church of St Materiana stands apart from the rest of the village on Glebe Cliff and can be seen for miles. We could even see it from our cottage. In the church is an inscribed Roman milestone.


Bossiney Haven is a small, sheltered beach that is sandy at low tide and surrounded by a semicircle of cliffs. The view from the cliff is excellent but it is a scramble down the cliff.

Rocky ValleyRocky Valley starts east of Bossiney and begins in a small forest before becoming more rocky as it descends to meet a stony cove. labyrinth carvings

Two bridges cross a stream on the way and beside the ruin of Trewethet Mill, two labyrinth carvings are cut on the flat piece of rock. They were found in 1948 by a local man, who wrote a guidebook on the area. Thought to be Bronze Age or later copies, they have found fame among the mystically inclined.


Boscastle is a picturesque village set in a steep sided valley where the rivers Valency and Jordan flow into the medieval harbour. Forrabury Stitches, on the cliff top, is a medieval strip farming system that is still in operation.

Boscastle Boscastle Boscastle The Wellington

HarbourThe old village has cottages dating back to the 15th century and the narrow, winding sea inlet has a natural harbour, protected by two stone walls built in 1584 by Sir Richard Grenville.

Valency riverThe name derives from Bottreaux Castle, of which few remains survive. Much of the land in and around the town is owned by the National Trust and tourism is the main activity today. In the 19th century Boscastle was a busy port, importing coal and timber and exporting slate and china clay. Ships had to be towed in by eight man rowing boats because of the dangerous harbour entrance.

2004 flood damageOn 16 August 2004 a flash flood caused extensive damage to Boscastle. An extraordinary amount of rain fell over the course of 5 hours and the Environment Agency concluded that it was among the most extreme weather ever experienced in Britain.

2004 flood damageSeveral earlier floods are recorded and the last time was in 1996 as a result of Hurricane Lili. 7 inches of rain fell over the high ground just inland from the village but the rain was very localised. It led to a 7 ft rise in river levels and a 10 ft wave surged down the main road washing around 50 cars and 6 buildings into the sea. A fleet of seven helicopters rescued about 150 people clinging to trees and the roofs of buildings. Amazingly, no major injuries or loss of life were reported.

RepairsFlood lineThe town has recovered very well and only the buildings around the harbour restaurant are still being repaired. The ones that are now complete have flood markers on them right up to the eves.

The Strangles

Near Trevigue Farm
We parked by thr road near Trevigue Farm and it took about 15 minutes to reach the path down to this remote beach.

High CliffHigh Cliff is Cornwall's highest cliff at 731ft and there are spectacular views all around. Low tide in the bay reveals large patches of sand between patches of black rocks, but swift currents make swimming unsafe. In the 1820s more than 20 sailing ships perished in one year on this rocky shore.

Strangles beachNT signWe could see the path zigzagging steeply down the rocky hillside but the tide was in so we didn’t go down. The coast path is very pretty here and at Pentargon a waterfall cascades over sheer black cliffs. Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma used to walk here.

Crackington Haven

Crackington HavenThis shingle and sand beach at the foot of towering, unstable shale cliffs is peaceful and unspoiled. We had a coffee outside a restaurant overlooking the beach and watched a lone surfer fighting the waves.

Crackington HavenThis used to be a small port and donkeys used to carry sand and seaweed away for the land. In the 1800s there was a scheme to build a grand port and a town nearby but fortunately this was abandoned in 1902.

Crackington HavenThe road separates the sea from a couple of beach shops, a pub and a hotel and has been rebuilt next to an older bridge. The National Trust owns most of the cliff and adjacent farm land and the coast path provides some of the most majestic coastal scenery in Britain along a crumbling cliff edge.

We drove up a steep road out of the village past Penkenna Point where St Gennys Church tower that has served as a landmark for centuries. The graveyard has memorials to some of the seamen who lost their lives in the tempestuous waters below

Widemouth Sand

Millook Haven The narrow road winds steeply to Millook Haven, with a few houses and a tiny cove that has little parking. The rock face here shows dramatic contortions caused by massive upheavals of the earth millions of years ago.

Widemouth SandsA car park on Penhalt Cliff gives a panoramic view of the bay and the holiday beach of Widemouth Sands.

The wide curving bay has flat sand that is popular with families and surfers.

Widemouth SandsThere is a car park and facilities half way along to cater for the usual holiday needs, plus a 50 acre caravan park.


Falcon Hotel Bude is a small resort at the mouth of the river Neet. Bude developed from the much older market town of Stratton, an old village of thatched houses now surrounded by modern housing. Several of Bude's more impressive houses were established as holiday homes for the wealthy of the day, notably Hartland House, now a hotel, which was built by the Fry family of "Fry's chocolate" fame.

Bude Light and castleI really liked the milennium sculpture called the Bude Light. It is a 9 metre slender cone of polished concrete with fibre optics in the colurs of sand, sea and sky. It also celebrates the invention of the first Bude Light by Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830 and stands in front of the castle he also built. The castle is now used as council offices and is thought to have been the first building in Britain constructed on sand, using a concrete raft.

sand rails and poolDolphins can sometimes be seen off the flat sandy beaches of Summerleaze and Crooklets, and between the two beaches is a natural seawater pool. As the sands contain calcium carbonate, farmers would come down to the beach and load up sand for spreading on their fields as fertiliser. Sand laden trucks ran on rails that can still be seen beside the road to the harbour.

Bude CanalOn the other side of this road is the Bude Canal which opened in 1823 and ran for 35 miles to Launceston, rising to a height of 350 ft in 6 miles. I t carried the sand inland in tubboats, and brought oats and slate back to vessels in Bude harbour.

sea locksea lockThe sea lock at the entrance is one of the last working locks of its kind and was constructed to allow merchant ships to have access to the upper and lower wharf in Bude.

harbour entranceA breakwater was built to protect the entrance to the lock which faced the full might of the open sea. Water was fed into the system from the Tamar Lakes and the change in levels was achieved by inclined planes where the wheeled tub-boats were pulled up the ramps on metal rails.

tub-boatIn the museum we were able to find out more about the canal, the inclined planes and also the various shipwrecks around here.

rowing boatsThe commercial operation finally closed in 1891 and the canal was neglected so it very quickly deteriorated.

Now there are canoes and small pleasure craft and it is navigable only as far as Helebridge.

Northcott Mouth to Stanbury Mouth

Northcott Mouth The coast to the north belongs to the National Trust and therefore remains unspoilt. Several isolated coves can be reached down steep narrow lanes. Northcott Mouth has a large parking area overlooking a beach strewn with large heaps of dark, rocky rubble from cliff landslips. The 14th century Church of St Olaf at Poughill (pronounced 'Pottle’) has a colourful interior and 78 carved-oak bench ends.

Sandy MouthSandy Mouth is a popular holiday beach, backed by high cliffs, and is reached by a short stroll from a National Trust car park and cafe. At low tide you can walk to Bude from here although there are few escape routes.

DuckpoolDuckpool is named after its pool of fresh water, fed from a stream through the Coombe Valley and contained by a natural dam of pebbles. The beach is sandy but littered with rocks from the crumbling cliffs.

Coombe ValleyThe woodlands of the pretty Coombe Valley support a rich variety of plants, birds and small animals and the village of Coombe is an enchanting huddle of thatched cottages reached across a ford.

GCHQThe walk to Stanbury Mouth takes 15 minute along a path overshadowed by great white dishes of a satellite ground station operated by the British Government. This is the GCHQ Composite Signals Organisation Station and can be seen on the hilltop from miles around. You are left in no doubt they wan’t you to keep out!

The dishes are generally orientated towards the equatorial INTELSAT communications network, the Middle East and Europe. Staff are drawn from GCHQ (UK) and the NSA (US) and the station is operated under the UKUSA agreement, gathering data for the ECHELON signals intelligence network. So now you know.


Church of St Morwenna We had a picnic in the car park beside the Norman Church of St Morwenna, noted for its stone carvings and 16th century carved bench ends. More than 40 seamen are buried in the churchyard, and a white figurehead from the ‘Caledonia’ usually stands beside the path – it had been removed for restoration. This Scottish ship met her fate on the perilous rocks of Higher Sharpnose in 1843.

Robert Stephen HawkerRobert Stephen Hawker, an eccentric 19th century vicar and poet, dominates the history of this church. He was vicar of Morwenstow for 40 years and wrote Cornwall's national anthem ‘The Song of the Western Men’. He built the vicarage, with curious chimneys that represent the towers of churches he had known and was much concerned with the fate of drowned mariners.

Vicarage CliffHawker would make the steep and dangerous descent to the base of these treacherous cliffs in order to recover the bodies that were washed up and afford them a Christian burial.

Vicarage CliffIt was quite a walk to Vicarage Cliff where a path leads down 17 steps to the National Trust's smallest building. This is Hawker's Hut, built into the face of the cliff looking out towards the island of Lundy.

Hawker's HutYou can’t see it from above but he spent many hours here, writing poetry and smoking his opium pipe, sometimes with friends, including Alfred Tennyson and Charles Kingsley.

At the rock and pebble beach at Marsland Mouth, there is a stream that marks the boundary between Devon and Cornwall.