Route Section Number 10:

Padstow to Clovelly

Cornwall’s wild and wonderful Atlantic coast gets rockier, more remote and less developed as the road heads north from Padstow. By the time you cross the Devon border near Welcome Mouth, the ‘beaches ‘are covered by ranks of jagged boulders surrounded by cliffs famous for their long history of shipwrecks.

Yet this stretch makes a perfect roadtrip, thanks to quieter roads, fewer towns and some of the most memorable sights of the whole southwest 660 route. Look forward to discovering its spectacular highlights like Tintagel Castle, Boscastle Harbour, Hartland Quay and Clovelly.

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The B3263 leads to Boscastle via the quirky attraction of St Nectan’s Glen. Narrow scenic lanes can then take you closer to the sea via beaches at Crackington Haven and Widemouth Bay, and finally on to the family resort of Bude. Enjoy the sandy beaches here – there are no more sands for the next 30 miles of rugged shoreline until Westward Ho!.

The A39 ‘Atlantic Highway’ cuts the corner of Hartland Peninsular and heads north to Clovelly but lanes turning to the left offer adventurous routes towards the coast. If you’ve only time for one, take the little road down to the wave-battered harbour at Hartland Quay.

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Route Highlights

Rock

The old estuary village of Rock is enjoying a similar up-market transformation to Padstow on the opposite shore. Rock always had beaches, views and walks – and now there are gourmet restaurants and designer shops too.

Port Isaac

The biggest of a trio of tiny adjoining coves, Port Isaac was thrust into the spotlight when serving as the location for TV’s Doc Martin series. Along with Port Quin and Port Gaverne, expect rocky inlets with tiny beaches sheltering a handful of fishing boats.

Tintagel

Don’t let the touristy high street full of homemade fudge and Arthurian replica swords deter you – it leads to one of the great sights of Cornwall. You’ll cross the new spectacular footbridge to reach the romantic ruins of Tintagel’s medieval island fortress.

Boscastle

A craggy inlet twists inland to a harbour where wonky cottages climb uphill from a cleft in the cliffs. Boscastle’s quirky appeal includes individual artists’ galleries, a spooky witchcraft tradition and a noisy blowhole spouting water through a gap in the cliffs.

Beaches of the far north coast

This rugged stretch of coast has more shipwreck locations and smuggling sites than sandy beaches. That’s all the better for out-of-season road trip explorers. Look out for the small sheltered cove at Crackington Haven alongside Cornwall’s highest cliffs.

Hartland

They call the far northwest corner of Devon the ‘Hartland Heritage Coast’ – it’s a beachless peninsular that’s a largely unspoilt Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It offers intrepid walks and breathless views rather than sandcastles and sunbathing.

Clovelly

See beyond the expensive car park, commercialised visitor centre and the awkwardly steep cobbled main street and Clovelly is one of THE essential Devon sights. Thanks to its private aristocratic owners, nothing architectural has changed here for almost 300 years.

Discover a secret sight

Between Tintagel and Boscastle find the car park and signed path from the B3263. It leads along St Nectan’s Glen, a deep gorge following a stream splashing over mossy rocks in a lush rainforest. At the end is a sacred and photogenic waterfall that has worn a hole right through a ring of rock.

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