When I am kept from sleep by a dull ache in my hips and knees I wonder why I’m so enthusiastic about walking the Cornish coast path and then I remember that a time is coming when I won’t be able to.
We move on from Batallack, near St Just, to a site with wonderful, dramatic views at Trethevy, near Tintagel. Tintagel always sounds as if it should be a settlement for an elven community and it transpires that there are Cornish influences in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It’s breezy but dry, as once installed, we set off to walk into Tintagel, short in distance and long in time. The descents and climbs begin quickly with a sharp drop from our camp site into a deep ravine and across a footbridge then up the other side with steps and slopes until we reach a gentle, upward field.
We reach the top of the field where a glimpse of a turret suggests Tintagel Castle but is, in fact a grand hotel, then we round the rocky headland and drop down again, this time for a view of the footbridge across to the castle, now a ruin and accessible only by reserving tickets from ‘English Heritage’. Foiled again, by our ineptitude in booking ahead!
We aren’t devastated. It’s another steep walk up to the village [on the road this time] passed by shuttle runs of land rovers taking sightseers down to the castle and back and those of us who walk it feel smug, if not achey, from gaining the top under our own steam.
We’ve a couple of hours to kill in Tintagel village, which we fritter by having tea then meandering in and out of gift shops and picking up a few things, which helps the local economy in these straightened times.
For once, we’ve been prepared and booked a table for dinner at the excellent ‘Olde Malthouse Inn’, a lovely old stone building in Fore Street. The meal is delicious enough to merit being Husband’s birthday dinner, even though there is still a couple of days until this milestone is reached. There is a relaxed ambience and we are not too out of place in our muddy walking gear. But we are saved from braving the soaring and plummeting coast path home by an elderly, jovial taxi driver who proudly declares he’s never set foot on the coast path.
Next day it’s our last walk, in the opposite direction to Boscastle, famously devastated by floods in 2004. The walk is mostly undulating but punctuated by steep steps in places. We climb to the coastguard lookout in a white tower, where it feels like the top of the world, then down into Boscastle’s tiny harbour, now restored and lined with tourist shops.
Further up there are cafes, pubs and a smattering of shops. It only remains to find the bus stop for our return to the site, where a visiting fish and chip van is the main attraction of the day!
Goodbye Cornwall, for now. But we’ll be back!