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Introducing Boscastle

A few years ago Boscastle was just another pretty village on the north Cornish coast, renowned for its beautiful harbour and picturesque valley setting. But on 16 August 2004, the village hit the headlines thanks to a devastating flash flood, the worst in Britain since the deluge at Lynmouth in 1952. Some 440 million gallons of water tore through the heart of the village in just a few hours, carrying away cars, trees and the Boscastle visitor centre, and causing devastating damage to many of village’s oldest buildings. Fifty-eight properties were flooded, over a hundred cars were swept out to sea and most of the village was evacuated by helicopter – but miraculously not a single person lost their lives.

Residents have spent the last two years piecing Boscastle back together, and though many properties have been completely refurbished, rebuilding work is still going on by the harbour. The visitor centre (250010; visitorcentre@boscastle.demon.co.uk; 10am-5pm Mar-Oct) is currently housed in a Portakabin opposite the Cobweb Inn, although plans are afoot to move it into a building near the harbour sometime in 2006.

The much-loved Museum of Witchcraft (250111; The Harbour; admission £2.50; 10.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 11.30am-6pm Sun) has been thoroughly renovated since the flood, and its eclectic collection of witch-related memorabilia (the world’s largest, apparently) is back on display. Artefacts include some spooky wooden poppets (a kind of voodoo doll), lots of witchy implements, and a hideous cast-iron ‘witch’s bridle’ designed to extract confessions from suspected hags.