Explore long sandy beaches popular with surfers & hike the rugged coast path to King Arthur’s castle at Tintagel. Drop in at the legendary Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor.
A self-guided walking tour
2018 dates: 6 nights (T6): April to mid-October. 8 nights (T8): May to September.
Duration: 6 (T6, T6E) or 8 nights (T8).
Grade: Moderate to demanding. The gradients on the coastal path (T6 and T8) are steep and strenuous. However days can readily be shortened by using buses or taxis. The 2 day Bodmin Moor extension (T8 only) is not as steep or strenuous as the coast, but the route-finding can be challenging. We do not accept single travellers on the T8 tour.
Tour prices: See “Tour prices” below.
Tour code(s): T6 or T6E (E = with ES/private bathroom); T8.
T6, T6E: Nights 1 & 2 Padstow; 3 Port Isaac; 4 Tintagel; 5 & 6 Boscastle.
T8: Nights 1 to 6 as T6, then night 7 Altarnun, night 8 Darite.
Accommodation. Specially selected guest houses or ‘B&Bs’. En suite or private facilities can be guaranteed throughout the T6 tour on payment of a supplement (T6E), but may not be available at Altarnun on the T8 tour. Please ask us about this.
Meals included. Breakfast each morning; other meals can be obtained locally without pre-booking.
Extra nights. These can be included at any point on our tours at the time of booking the holiday. Devotees of the legendary dark ages King Arthur may consider an extra night at Tintagel, where the evocative ruins of Arthur’s castle, now in the care of English Heritage and open to the public, stand on a precipitous rocky island linked by a bridge with the mainland.
The most convenient rail station for the start of the tour at Padstow is Bodmin Parkway, which is about 4 hours 30 minutes journey time from London Paddington. From Bodmin Parkway station there is a direct bus service to Padstow once per hour through the main part of the day. The bus may be less frequent on Sundays.
The T6 tour ends at Boscastle. To return to Bodmin Parkway there is no direct bus from Boscastle, and the simplest method is by taxi. It is also possible to go by bus via Camelford to rejoin the main line railway at Exeter St David’s station.
The T8 tour ends at Darite. The tour price includes a taxi ride on the final day from Darite to the nearest main line rail station at Liskeard. You will need to arrange departure time with the taxi driver.
The main international airports for southern England are near London: Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW). These airports have shuttle rail and/or bus links to the main line to Cornwall at Reading station. All trains from London Paddington to Cornwall stop at Reading about 30 minutes after leaving London.
There are also regional airports with some international services at Bristol and Exeter. There are direct trains to Bodmin Parkway from Bristol Temple Meads and Exeter St David’s rail stations.
Cornwall now has its own airport at Newquay, with flights from London Gatwick and other UK airports. You can reach the start of this tour at Padstow from Newquay airport either by bus (runs daily, once per hour, on Sundays may be less frequent, scenic route, journey time 1 hour) or by taxi.
Tour code T6:
6 nights tour, ES or private facilities most nights: £510. SRS*: £120. STS**: £160.
Tour code T6E:
6 nights tour, ES or private facilities every night: £540. SRS*: £150. STS**: £190.
Tour code T8:
8 nights tour, ES or private facilities most nights: £680. SRS*: £160. Not available for solo travellers.
Please read the notes below on pricing:
- Extra nights £55 per person per night; single room £75 per person per night.
- SRS* = single room supplement (applicable when 3 or 5 persons book together).
- STS** = solo traveller supplement (applicable when booking is for one person only)
Prices quoted are per person on basis of two people in double or twin-bedded rooms. Included in the price are bed and breakfast each night, with baggage transfers, maps and route directions. ‘ES’ (en suite) facilities means that there is a private bathroom with shower or tub and toilet within the main door of your room. ‘Private facilities’ means that the private bathroom may be outside the main door of your room. When the booking is made for a party of 3 or 5 customers, a single room supplement is payable. Note: normally a maximum of 1 single room per booking.
Our tour starts with 2 nights at the historic and picturesque port of Padstow – now famed for its fish and seafood restaurants. There is a full day to explore the long series of sandy beaches and rocky headlands which extend westwards from Padstow towards Newquay. This part of Cornwall is popular with surfers, who enjoy the challenge presented by the breakers rolling in off the Atlantic. There is a handy local bus service which enables you to break off the walk at almost any point and return to Padstow. On the third day, while your baggage goes round the long way by road, you take the little passenger ferry across the Camel estuary (tidal river) to Rock, then follow the increasingly precipitous coastline to the tiny fishing village of Port Isaac, which has been used in films and TV series to epitomize the ‘olde’ Cornwall.
The next day’s hike takes you on along the coast to Tintagel, famed for its association with the legendary King Arthur. Tintagel Castle (now owned by English Heritage, open to visitors daily) is on an island linked with the mainland only by a lofty footbridge. From Tintagel you continue to Boscastle, one of the scarce natural harbours on this wild coast. With 2 nights at Boscastle you can choose between a wide range of excellent hikes both along the coast towards Crackington Haven and up the sheltered valleys of St Nectan’s Glen and the River Valency. The latter valley leads inland to the isolated church of St Juliot’s, which was restored by the novelist Thomas Hardy when he was working as a young architect. Hardy later set his romantic novel A pair of blue eyes in and around Boscastle – and married the blue eyes.
For those continuing across Bodmin Moor (T8), Day 7 starts with a road transfer (included in the tour price) to Rough Tor, from where you cross the moor’s highest summit (Brown Willy, 420 m/1377 feet above sea level) and drop in at the original Jamaica Inn before overnighting at the remote village of Altarnun. The final day takes you via the granite pinnacles of Kilmar Tor, the delicately balanced Cheesewring rock formation and the prehistoric Hurlers stone circles to Darite, where your overnight is usually at a comfortable farmhouse just below the edge of the moor.
The coastal walking in North Cornwall is undeniably strenuous, with numerous long steep ascents and descents, so you need to be fit before the start of the tour. It can help to build in a rest day, for instance at Port Isaac. However it is possible to shorten most of the coastal days by using local buses for part of the way – we provide timetables and tell you where to find the bus stops. The walking across Bodmin Moor (Days 7 and 8 of T8) is less strenuous but can present routefinding challenges over the sometimes pathless ground. Basic compass skill may be needed. We provide directions for alternative low-level walking routes in case of fog or other bad weather on the moor.
For many readers the Cornwall writer par excellence is Daphne du Maurier. Her non-fiction work Vanishing Cornwall is available in paperback. Her Jamaica Inn is set on Bodmin Moor and much of the action takes place around Altarnun. Thomas Hardy’s early autobiographical novel A pair of blue eyes is set near Boscastle.
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