Circular walk from The Strangles to Buckator via High Cliff

The Strangles to Buckator

A circular walk along the volcanic coastline north of Boscastle including Cornwall's highest cliff and The Strangles beach with its spectacular arch known as the Northern Door.

Get the app to guide you around the walk

Phone showing walk for purchase
Download the (free) app then use it to purchase this walk.
Phone showing Google navigation to start of walk
The app will direct you to the start of the walk via satnav.
Hand holding a phone showing the iWalk Cornwall app
The app guides you around the walk using GPS, removing any worries about getting lost.
Phone showing walk directions page in the iWalk Cornwall app
The walk route is described with detailed, regularly-updated, hand-written directions.
Person looking a directions on phone
Each time there is a new direction to follow, the app will beep to remind you, and will warn you if you go off-route.
Phone showing walk map page in the iWalk Cornwall app
A map shows the route, where you are at all times and even which way you are facing.
Phone showing facts section in iWalk Cornwall app
Each walk is packed with information about the history and nature along the route, from over a decade of research than spans more than 3,000 topics.
Person looking at phone with cliff scenery in background
Once a walk is downloaded, the app doesn't need wifi or a phone signal during the walk.
Phone showing walk stats in the iWalk Cornwall app
The app counts down distance to the next direction and estimates time remaining based on your personal walking speed.
Person repairing footpath sign
We keep the directions continually updated for changes to the paths/landmarks - the price for a walk includes ongoing free updates.
The walk starts by heading out onto the coast at The Strangles. The route follows the Coast Path behind the bizarre folded rock formations of Voter Run to the top of High Cliff, then along the fossiliferous Rusey Cliff to the rugged cliffs at Buckator. The return route is relatively quick, along small lanes and a track.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

Buy walk

Sign in to buy this walk.

This walk is in your basket. Proceed to your basket to complete your purchase.

My Basket Remove from basket

You own this walk.

An error occurred while checking the availability of this walk:

Please retry reloading the page. If this problem persists, please contact us for assistance.

Reload page

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111
  • Distance: 4.9 miles/7.8 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate-strenuous
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 111 OS Explorer 111 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Panoramic views from High Cliff - the highest cliff in Cornwall at 223m
  • Pretty wildflowers on the cliffs in spring and summer
  • Clifftop views over the beach at The Strangles
  • Bizarre folded rock formations of Voter and Alder Run


  1. From the parking area, facing the road, turn right and go through the gate across the road to reach a National Trust Strangles sign marking a public footpath on the left. Follow this a few paces to reach a kissing gate.

    Blackthorn and hawthorn trees both grow in similar places but in each season there are different ways to tell them apart.

    In spring, blackthorn is one of the first trees to flower. The white blossom appears before the leaves in April. In warm weather, the leaves may quickly catch up and this is when it can get mistaken for hawthorn, which produces leaves before flowers. However, there are a few other ways to distinguish the flowers: blackthorn pollen is orange whereas hawthorn is pink, fading to black. Hawthorn petals overlap each other whereas blackthorn is more "gappy".

    In summer, the leaf shape can be used to tell them apart. Blackthorn leaves are a classic leaf shape with slightly serrated edges. Hawthorn leaves have deep notches dividing the leaf into several lobes a bit like oak.

    In autumn, pretty much all hawthorn trees have small red berries, even the windswept specimens on the coast. Blackthorn trees may have purple sloes, but not all the trees fruit each year. Some years seem to result in a lot more sloes than others.

    Hawthorn trees are often a little bigger than blackthorn, especially in harsh environments such as on the coast. Blackthorn tends to form thickets whereas hawthorn are typically distinct trees. Hawthorn bark is usually shiny whereas blackthorn is dull. The thorns on hawthorn tend to be shorter (less then 2cm) and point slightly forwards on the stem. Blackthorn has longer spikes that stick out at right angles.

  2. Go through the gate and follow the path until it forks.

    Spring is the best time to harvest nettles. They should not be harvested when flowering (the flowers look like small catkins hanging down from the stems), as during flowering they produce microscopic rods of calcium carbonate (limestone) which can interfere with kidney function.

    To prepare them, wearing gloves, strip off the young tender leaves, discarding any large coarse leaves and stems. Use lightly boiled, steamed or wilted as if it were spinach (though not raw unless you want to live dangerously!). All the usual spinach flavour combinations apply (e.g. with ricotta).

    Nettles are often found near human habitation, much to the displeasure of many humans. Humans generally remove dense vegetation such as tree cover, leaving open ground that fast-growing nettles can rapidly colonise. Food waste from humans and droppings from livestock boost phosphate levels in the soil which nettles require to thrive. Grazing animals also leave nettles alone, munching away competing vegetation instead.

  3. At the fork in the path, keep left down the steps and follow the path until another path joins from the right.

    The Strangles is a beach between Boscastle and Crackington Haven that is reached via a public footpath crossing the Coast Path. The Strangles gets its name due to the treacherous currents and jagged rocks that have wrecked many ships trying to navigate the rocky coastline of North Cornwall. This is not a safe beach for swimming unless the sea is completely calm without much surf. There is spectacular scenery both on the walk down and from the beach itself including a rock arch and the cliffs are covered with gorse and heather flowers in early autumn.

  4. Keep left where the coast path joins and continue to the next waymark.

    There are more than 20 breeding pairs of Peregrine falcons along the coast from Bude to Padstow.

    The peregrine falcon can reach over 322 km/h (200 mph) during its hunting stoop (high speed dive) making it the fastest member of the animal kingdom. In 2005, a peregrine was measured at a top speed of 389 km/h (242 mph). The air pressure at this speed could damage a bird's lungs. However small bony tubercles on a falcon's nostrils guide the powerful airflow away, enabling the bird to breathe more easily while diving. In Cornish dialect, these falcons are known as "winnards" and local expressions include "shrammed as a winnard" (meaning chilled) and "rumped up like a winnard" (meaning huddled).

  5. At the waymark, turn left onto the coast path and follow it until you reach a waymark marked "To Road" at the top of some steps.

    If the tide is out, you may want to stroll down to the beach first, returning to this point to continue the walk.

  6. At the "To Road" waymark, keep right towards Boscastle and follow the coast path through a kissing gate, down to the bottom of the valley and over a footbridge to a waymark at the top of the steps on the other side.

    Between the two species, some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrases: "when gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion" (which is recorded from the mid-19th century) and "when the furze is in bloom, my love's in tune" (which dates from the mid-18th century). Common gorse flowers are bright yellow. Western gorse flowers are very slightly more orange - more like the colour of the "yolk" in a Cadbury's creme egg. Also like creme eggs, gorse flowers are edible but are significantly better for use in salads and to make a tea, beer or wine.

  7. At the waymark, keep left to stay on the coast path and follow it to the top of the bank where there is another waymark.

    Looking back towards The Strangles, there are nice views of Samphire Rock and the Northern Door.

    Rock samphire has been a popular wild food since Celtic times. It has a strong, characteristic, slightly lemony flavour and recently has become more well-known as a flavouring for gin. It was very popular as a pickle in 16th century Britain until it almost died out from over-picking in the 19th Century. Consequently, it's currently a protected plant but is now making a good comeback. In Shakespeare's time, a rope was tied to a child's ankles and he was dangled over the cliff to pick the rock samphire that grew in crevices and clefts in the rocks.

    The completely unrelated but similar-looking golden samphire also grows around the North Cornish coast. The leaves look almost identical, but the daisy-like yellow flowers in summer are a giveaway, as rock samphire has tiny green-white flowers that look more like budding cow parsley. Golden samphire is edible, but is inferior in flavour to rock samphire; it is also nationally quite rare in Britain.

    Also completely unrelated is marsh samphire (also known as glasswort) which looks more like micro-asparagus. This is what typically appears on restaurant menus or in supermarkets as "samphire".

  8. At the waymark, bear left along the top of the bank to reach a pedestrian gate. Go through this and follow the coast path uphill along the edge of a field until you eventually reach the top.

    The corner of the field is above High Cliff. If you make your way across the grass towards the cliff edge, there is a bench on the clifftop just below the coast path.

    High Cliff, near Boscastle, is the highest sheer-drop cliff in Cornwall at 223 metres (732ft). To the north, there are views along the coast across The Strangles to Cambeak. To the south, you can see the rocky islets of Boscastle, Trevalga and Tintagel. Almost directly below is the rocky promontory of Voter Run which has some impressively folded rocks that have been compared to molten toffee.

  9. Continue ahead to follow the coast path towards the next valley, keeping right along the coast where the path forks, to reach a kissing gate.

    Seals are easily disturbed by the presence of humans (and dogs) and this is can be the difference between life and death for seals in several different ways. Perhaps the most obvious is that a panicking seal is liable to injure itself rushing for the water. When breeding, even mild disturbance can lead to mothers abandoning their pups which then starve to death. More subtly, disturbance also causes seals to burn up their precious energy reserves. Even in a "good" year, 75% of young seals can end up dying due to insufficient energy reserves (95% in a very bad year!). If a seal looks at you, this should ring alarm bells as it means you're too close. To watch seals responsibly, it's important to keep your distance (at least 100m), avoid being conspicuous (e.g. on the skyline) and minimise noise.

  10. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path down into the valley until you reach a footbridge.

    Well-preserved fossilised remains of plants can be been found in the black shales in the landslide at Rusey Cliff near Boscastle. These date back to 320-350 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. The "main" landslide is half-way down the 680 foot high cliff in a location that isn't safely accessible, but many of the rocks dotted either side of the coast path have come from the landslide, so you may be able to find fossils if you can find a lump of shale to split.

  11. From the footbridge, follow the path to a waymark where the coast path turns uphill.

    There is a quite large feral population of goats roaming free on the cliffs near Crackington Haven which are used to graze down the vegetation in the difficult-to-access areas on the high cliffs along this part of the coast. The grazing encourages wildflowers and provides the coastal heath habitat that may allow the Large Blue butterfly to be reintroduced.

  12. At the waymark, bear left and then keep following the waymarked coast path uphill until you reach a kissing gate at the top of Rusey Cliff with a waymark pointing ahead for Beeny Cliff.

    To make wine from dandelion flowers, pour a gallon of boiling water over a gallon of flowers and steep for 2-3 days in a covered container, stirring occasionally. Then boil, add 1.5kg sugar and allow to cool. To the basic liquor, citrus is often added (lemon/orange juice and zest) which gives some acidity, and chopped raisins or grape concentrate can be used to give more body to the wine. Ferment with a white wine or champagne yeast.

    In the past, when the cliffs were grazed regularly, this provided habitat for wild thyme and red ants on which the large blue butterfly depends. As farming became more intensified and cliff-top grazing stopped, the cliffs became overgrown and there was too much shade. Consequently the large blue became extinct in the UK in 1979. Now the cliffs are once more being grazed and the conditions are suitable, work is underway to reintroduce the large blue to Cornwall after highly successful reintroductions in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

  13. Go through the kissing gate and follow the coast path to reach a gate and stile.

    The large square building on the headland in the distance is the Camelot Castle Hotel.

    Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel was formerly named King Arthur's Castle Hotel and is referred to by locals as simply Castle Hotel. The building was designed by Silvanus Trevail, Cornwall's most famous architect, and opened in 1899. Originally it was planned to be built on Barras Nose but after a local campaign with the National Trust to save Barras, it was built on the site formerly known as Firebeacon. The dramatic Victorian building was used for Dr Seward's Asylum in the 1979 film Dracula, starring Laurence Olivier (and the baby thrown out of the window in the film was in fact Dave - our software developer). It also featured in the ITV Comedy Drama, Doc Martin, as the location for Doc Martin's meeting with the Health Board.

  14. Go through the gate or cross the stile and continue on the path to reach a wooden walkway crossing a marsh.

    The caterpillars of the large blue butterfly secrete honeydew, which causes ants to carry the caterpillar down into their nests, to feed on this. The caterpillar then proceeds to eat some of the ant eggs and larvae without the ants appearing to care. In fact, the ants even escort the butterfly to the surface, and protect it from predators whilst its wings dry.

    What's even stranger is that if the ant colony produces more than one queen, at this point the ants seek out, kill and eat the caterpillars. It's possible this is an evolutionary response to raise the "birth rate" in the colony, by removing predation from the caterpillars, prior to a potential split-off of a satellite colony with the new queen.

  15. Go through the gate at the end of the walkway and cross the stepping-stones then keep following the coast path. Continue past a waymark and through a kissing gate until you reach a kissing gate leading into a field.

    During winter months, kestrels mostly hunt from perches rather than by hovering as this burns too much energy at a time when food resources are scarce. The reason the birds don't do this all year round is that hovering is a much more productive way to catch prey so when temperatures are warmer and food is more abundant they switch strategies.

  16. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge of the field and go through another gate onto the cliffs. Follow the path to reach a kissing gate emerging into a large field beside a waymark.

    Betony is a grassland herb, common on the coast, with pretty purple anthers that stick out from the plant. The name is derived from the ancient Celtic words bew (meaning head) and ton (meaning good) as it was used as a cure for headaches. From Roman times onward, it was believed to be a cure for a number of things (the Romans listed 47!) including drunkenness; even as late as the 1800s, Richard E. Banks stated that you should "Eat betony or the powder thereof and you cannot be drunken that day" and John Gerard (1597) said that "It maketh a man to pisse well". Betony was also used to ward away evil spirits (hence it is planted in a number of churchyards) and also to make a dark yellow dye for wool.

    Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance you can see to the horizon depends on your height above sea level. This increases with the square root of height (i.e. with diminishing returns). An adult typically sees the horizon about 3 miles from the beach. From the top of a 100 foot lighthouse, it is about 12 miles away. At the top of the highest cliff in Cornwall it is roughly 33 miles out but if a 100ft tower were built all the way up here, it would only allow an extra 2 miles to be seen.

  17. When you reach the gate (with a bench to the right), go through the gate, turn left and follow the hedge inland to a gate.

    The name "daisy" is thought to be a corruption of "day's eye" (or "eye of the day", as Chaucer called it). The name comes about because the flower head closes at night and opens each morning. In mediaeval times, it was known as "Mary's Rose".

    Skylarks are the most common member of the lark family in Britain and are often known simply as "larks".

    The phrase "to lark about" may have its origins in the aerobatics of the skylark. At the start of the 19th Century, young boys who played about in the rigging of ships were known as "skylarks". The use of "to lark" as a verb can be traced back as far as the early 19th Century. By the middle of the century, it had reach America where "larking about" is first recorded.

  18. Go through the gate and follow the path until it ends on a lane.

    The oldest moth fossils found so far are from the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago. By the Middle Triassic (age of amphibians - before the dinosaurs), moths had evolved their proboscis used to collect nectar from flowers. Day-flying butterflies were on the scene in the Late Cretaceous (when Tyrannosaurs were around). Originally it was thought day-flying was to avoid night-flying bats but it's now thought more likely that this was mainly to take advantage of the abundance of nectar that was originally targeted at bees.

    A flower is effectively an advert to insects that nectar is available and the reason that flowers are coloured and scented is so these adverts get noticed. The basic idea with most flowers is to lure the insect in with a bribe of nectar and then whilst they are there, unload pollen they are carrying from another flower, stick some pollen to them from this flower, and send them on their way.

  19. Turn left and follow the lane for just over a quarter of a mile until you reach a track on the left.

    There are sometimes llamas in the fields on the right.

    Llamas and Alpacas are both from South America and are members of the camel family. Llamas are the larger of the two with longer (banana-sized) ears and a longer face. Alpacas have a very short, blunt face and have been bred for fleece production so they have shaggy hair rather like a sheep. Llamas have been bred for transporting goods (similarly to camels) hence their larger size.

  20. Continue along the lane for another roughly 300 metres until you reach a second track to the left with a "To the coastpath" sign on the left.

    As sunlight passes though the atmosphere, the rays of light can interact electromagnetically with the molecules of air. This interaction causes each ray of light to be sent off in a random direction and is therefore known as "scattering".

    Sunlight includes all the colours of the rainbow, each with different wavelengths. The shorter waves of blue and violet light interact with air molecules more strongly than the other colours in sunlight and this is responsible for the colours we see of the sun and the sky.

  21. Turn left onto the track and follow it for roughly three-quarters of a mile to a T-junction onto a lane.

    Pineapple weed grows on the more well-worn areas of the track.

    Pineapple weed is related to chamomile and is consequently also known as false chamomile. It's able to colonise poor soils on waste ground including cracks between paving. The flowers resembling little yellow balls are also quite distinctive but even more so is the pineapple scent when is trodden on or squeezed. The leaves can be eaten in salads and the leaves and flowers can also be dried to make tea.

    The writer Thomas Hardy met his first wife, Emma Gifford, while he was working as an architect on St. Juliot's church, and they were married in 1874. Hardy wrote several poems about their first meeting and their marriage, most of which were written in the years immediately after her death in 1912. In the poems, he disguises some of the more well-known place names, for example "Castle Boterel" refers to Boscastle, while "Lyonesse" is the name of the mythical land of ancient Cornwall.

  22. At the junction, turn left onto the lane and follow it for roughly a mile back to the car park.

    Cornwall had a number of its own peculiar units of measurement:

    • A Cornish Gallon was a unit of weight (10 lbs) rather than volume. A Cornish Apple Gallon however was 7 lb, rather than 10 lb. Given the strength of Cornish Rattler, this is probably wise.
    • When counting fish, a Cornish hundred was, in fact, 132.
    • Finally, a Cornish Mile is 1.5 miles. Though you may suspect otherwise when walking up a steep hill, our walk distances are not measured in Cornish Miles.

either as a GPS-guided walk with our app (£2.99) or a PDF (£1.99)

Please recycle your ink cartridges to help prevent plastic fragments being ingested by seabirds. Google "stinkyink" and click on "free recycling" for a freepost label.