1. Go down the steps from the top-right of the main car park in Boscastle, next to the gates, and follow the path alongside the river, up the valley, until you reach a waymark.

    Boscastle is a small fishing village located on the North Cornish coast, just north of Tintagel. Boscastle is one of the few sheltered inlets on the North Cornish coast and therefore a likely landing point for tin traders of ancient times, possibly as far back as Phoenician traders in 2000 BC. The river also provided power for a number of mills which date back at least as far as the 12th Century. In more recent times, as well as being a fishing harbour, Boscastle was a small port (similar to the others on the north coast of Cornwall) importing raw materials such as limestone and coal, and exporting slate and other local produce. In Victorian times, as many as 200 vessels came each year, mostly from Bristol and South Wales.

    In 1302 the name was recorded as Boterelescastel which meant "castle of the Botterels". It's possible this became shortened to bos because this was the Cornish word for dwelling ("bos-castel" would have been understood by Cornish speakers as "village with the castle" as the word kastell also existed in Cornish).

  2. At the waymark, keep left and follow the path in the direction waymarked to New Mills. Continue to follow the path to a gate.

    Streams from the marshes of the Otterham Downs give rise to the River Valency which is then fed by five more rivers on its way to Boscastle. The name "Valency" has been explained as a corruption of the Cornish Melinjy (i.e. Melin-Chy = Mill-house) from the mill which existed in Boscastle in mediaeval times.

    The steep Valency Valley acted as a funnel for the dramatic flash flood in 2004 that put Boscastle on (and nearly wiped it off) the map. Over 1.4 billion litres of rain fell in the course of 2 hours which is thought to have been caused by the Brown Willy effect, where the high tors on Bodmin Moor cause the repeated formation of rainclouds which blow along the prevailing wind and then dump their rain. Around 50 cars were swept into the harbour, the bridge was washed away and roads were submerged under 9ft of water. A total of 91 people were rescued in the largest peacetime rescue operation ever carried out in the UK.

  3. Go through the gate and follow the path until you reach a footbridge.

    In early spring, large areas beneath the trees are carpeted in Wild Garlic.

    Wild garlic is best harvested in early spring before it flowers and the leaves start to die off. Unlike domestic garlic, the leaves are the useful bit rather than the bulb, so cut/pull off the leaves (don't pull up the plants). The leaves are quite delicate, so you can use quite large quantities in cooking; therefore, harvest it in the kind of quantities that you'd buy salad leaves from the supermarket. There are some lillies that look fairly similar (and some are poisonous) but the smell is the giveaway: if it doesn't smell of garlic/onions, then it's not wild garlic.

  4. Turn right over the bridge and follow the path uphill through Peter's Wood until eventually you reach a waymark where the path forks.

    Minster Wood, in the Valency valley, is an ancient broadleaf woodland which has had continuous tree cover for at least 400 years, providing a habitat for many fern species. The woods consist of native trees but are not entirely wild, having been managed since Norman times by the monks of the priory of Minster. Up to the 19th Century, bark was collected for tanning, and charcoal was generated by burning coppiced trees.

  5. At the waymark, take the right (lower) path and follow it to a gate into the churchyard.

    On your left, just before you enter the churchyard is the grave of a "witch".

    Joan Wytte, known as the "Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin Town", was unjustly condemned as a witch in the 18th century and died in Bodmin Jail. For many years, her skeleton hung unceremoniously in the Museum of Witchcraft at Boscastle. When the museum was taken over, the new owner wanted to give her a proper burial. However, as an alleged witch, the Church would not allow her to be buried on consecrated ground. Therefore her grave is just outside the perimeter of the churchyard.

  6. Go through the gate into the churchyard and follow the path ahead to the church.

    Minster Holy Well is on the left side of the path, at the bottom of the bank.

    Minster Holy Well is situated alongside the path through the churchyard from Peter's Wood to the church. Due to the tree cover and its position below a steep bank, the Holy Well tends to collect leaf litter and mud washed out by the rain, and is therefore somewhat unglamourous in appearance. However it is probably closer to the original Celtic form than many other sacred springs which have been "improved" by the Christian church either in Mediaeval or Victorian times.

  7. Follow the path past the church then follow the main path alongside the wall to reach a gate onto the lane.

    Minster (St Merthiana's) Church, in a valley on the outskirts of Boscastle, is on a site which dates back 1500 years to Celtic times. It was originally known as "Tolcarne" which means literally "rocky hole" and has been interpreted as meaning a chapel made from rocks. Parts of the church there today dates back to 1150, built by William de Bottreaux. The church was restored twice after falling into disrepair, so there are some features that date back to the Tudor period and others to Victorian times. Look out for the mysterious carved scissors on the tower wall. No one knows why they're there! Suggestions include a trademark of the stonemason, or an homage to the wool trade which funded the church restoration. In early spring, the church is surrounded by a carpet of daffodils and wild garlic.

  8. Go through the gate onto the lane, turn right and follow it up the hill to a junction.

    The church building at Minster and surrounding countryside in the Valency Valley provide ideal habitat for the endangered species, the Greater Horseshoe bat which forages for moths and beetles in the nearby woods and pastures. The colony at Minster is the largest known in Cornwall, containing around 5% of the entire UK population. The bats can be seen in summer emerging from their roosts about half an hour after sunset.

  9. At the junction, bear right to stay on the lane and follow the lane until you reach a public footpath sign on the right.

    The valley that the lane descends into is known as the Jordan Valley.

    The River Jordan joins the River Valency at the Bridge in Boscastle and collects water from another steep-sided valley, doubling the floodwaters that descend on Boscastle in heavy rain. The name is thought to be a corruption of the French - jardin - from Norman times, and may refer to the gardens surrounding Bottreaux Castle, which could conceivably have run down to the river. The River Jordan was originally the dividing line between the separate parishes of Forrabury and Minster until they were united in 1702.

  10. As the road bends left, cross the stone stile on the right signposted to Boscastle. Head across the field, towards the church in the distance, to a stile in the left corner of the far hedge.
  11. Cross the stile and then another stile into a field, then follow the left hedge to a kissing gate on the left before the Home Farm sign.
  12. Go through the kissing gate waymarked to "Old Village", keep right past a footbridge and follow the path on the right-hand side of the stream until it joins a track next to a house.
  13. Bear left along the track and follow it uphill to a waymark.
  14. At the waymark, keep left and follow the track until it ends at a road.

    Where the path meets the road, a short diversion up the hill to the left, just on the other side of the crossroads, is the Napoleon Inn.

    The Napoleon Inn is a public house located in Boscastle, just uphill from the junction between the old main road and the road to Camelford. The inn is Boscastle's oldest pub, built in the 16th Century. It was a recruiting office during the Napoleonic wars. The landlord joined up with Wellington to go to Waterloo and so was called 'Napoleon man' on his return - hence the name of his pub.

  15. Turn right downhill on Fore Street, which becomes Dunn Street and then Old Road as it descends the Jordan Valley, finally emerging next to the Wellington Hotel.

    The Wellington Hotel is located at the bottom of the old main road in Boscastle, across the road from the harbour. "The Welly", as it's known locally, is the old village coaching inn. Some parts of the building are 4 centuries old, but most of it dates from 1853 when the number of travellers to the area increased. It was once called the Bos Castle Hotel, but was renamed on the death of the Duke of Wellington in 1852. The lamps are originally from St Juliot Church and were quite possibly designed by Thomas Hardy.

  16. Turn right on the road at the junction just past the Wellington Hotel and follow it across the bridge to the Cobweb Inn.

    The Cobweb Inn is a public house located in Boscastle at the south-east edge of the village, opposite the public car park. The inn was previously a wine cellar and flour store dating from the late 1700s. It has traditionally always had cobwebs hung from the roof beams as apparently this was thought to keep flies off stored wines and spirits. It was converted to a pub in 1947 when tourism to North Cornwall surged after the end of the war. The cobwebs remained on the beams until the 1990's, when Health and Safety inspectors required that they be removed.

  17. Turn right into the car park to complete the walk.

The Old Mill is situated next the the bridge in Boscastle, facing towards the harbour. Despite the names, The Old Mill is newer than Newmills, which is situated further up the Valency valley and dates from Tudor times. The Old Mill is an 18th century building, replacing an earlier 17th century mill on the same site; the mill wheel is 19th century as the wooden structures would eventually rot and need replacing.

Boscastle village hall is located on the corner of Gunpool Lane. It was originally The Mission Chapel built in 1900. Before this, the mediaeval chapel of St. James probably stood on or near the site of the Mission Hall. No-one knows exactly when St James was built, but certainly before 1400 when it was granted a licence. The tower of St James was still in use as late as 1837 and the ruined tower was shown in a sketch in 1846. The Reverend A. G. L'Estrange, who visited Boscastle in 1864, wrote that "the very Church St James" had fallen down and "its fair corner stones and adornments may be traced in the walls of the adjoining cottages."

Jordan Mill is located in Boscastle at the bottom of the Jordan Valley, about half way down the old main street. The mill is thought to be the site one of Cornwall's oldest, possibly corresponding to one mentioned in the Domesday book. It is known a mill existed here in 1234 and a stone dated 1309 was found when the building was renovated in the 20th Century.

The Methodist chapel in Boscastle is about 200 metres downhill from the Napoleon Inn on the old main road, opposite Boscastle Primary School. The chapel you see today was built by Thomas Rosevear and opened in 1825 on a day that was recorded as "uncommonly wet". The tower was added in 1904 (just after the Mission Chapel across the road was built, which may hint at some rivalry). However this wasn't the first chapel on the site. This replaced the previous chapel which the Methodist congregation had grown too large for by 1823.

The previous chapel was built by Thomas' father John Rosevear as a thanksgiving offering after one of his merchant ships carrying valuable cargo escaped from French Privateers. As his ship was chased on its way into Boscastle harbour, they hid from the French privateer in the lee of Meachard rock. Whilst the French launched a boat to search for the "disappearing" ship, a number of women from the village went out on the headland in red shawls, and mistaking this for the redcoats of the British Army, the French ship fled.

The site of Bottreaux Castle is located on the west side of the Jordan Valley in Boscastle, about half way down the old main road; there is a signposted path to the old castle site. Bottreaux Castle was the 12th century fortress of the de Botterells which included extensive dungeons. Very little apart from the mound now remains, as over the centuries the residents of Boscastle "reused" stones from the castle to build their houses, but it provides a good view point over the village and harbour.

Rose Cottage is located on High Street in Boscastle. It is the surviving part of what was originally a row of 18th century almshouses. Almshouses provided a place of residence for poor, old and distressed folk. It's likely that in this period there would have been a fair amount of old-age sickness including metal poisoning from working in nearby lead, antimony, arsenic and copper mines and the manganese mill down on the harbour, as well as disabling injuries from mining and quarrying.

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