Backways cove

Footpath to Backways Cove from Trebarwith Village
Footpath to Backways Cove
Backways Cove in North Cornwall
Backways Cove
Stream at Backways Cove in North Cornwall
Stream at Backways Cove
Winter storm at Backways Cove
Winter storm
Sea foam being picked up by the wind at Backways Cove
Sea foam
Water powered threshing machine in Trebarwith Village, North Cornwall
Water powered thresher

Backways is a rocky cove close to Trebarwith. Looking out from Park Farm it's the V shape to the left of Trebarwith Strand. It's always quiet as few tourists know about it and it's a reasonable walk to get to.

It is good for snorkelling on a calm summer day as there are lots of interesting shaped areas of rock in the water created by a combination of quarrying and erosion from the sea which you can either explore with mask and snorkel or just swim between and sunbathe on. There are strong currents if there is a swell so we don't advise swimming unless the sea is very calm. In Spring and Autumn, look out for peregrine falcons swooping over the cliffs which nest nearby. In the winter, Backways is dramatic in a big storm with sea foam and spray from the stream blowing back up the valley and mini tornadoes of foam forming beneath the cliffs.

Backways Cove is a small rocky inlet and beach at the bottom the the valley below Trebarwith Village, just south of Trebarwith Strand. The location features in "The International Directory of Haunted Places":

"Backways Cove, a North Cornwall inlet just up the coast from Trebarwith Strand, is still haunted by many unidentified presences who are thought to be the spirits of shipwrecked sailors whose bodies washed up there after they drowned. Numerous ships were torn apart on the jagged rocks offshore, and the shadowy spirits of their crew are still trying to make it to shore."

There is even a "Legend of Backways Cove" (NB the site linked to currently has a spelling mistake, the title says "Blackways" instead of "Backways").

Between Tregardock and Backways Cove lie the remains of Treligga Aerodrome (HMS Vulture II). Both the observation/control tower and the reinforced hut near the sea (towards Backways Cove) are still standing, as are the accommodation and service huts near Treligga village. The control tower has quite recently been repaired and converted into accomodation.

Before the Second World War, HMS Vulture II was used as a glider site. However the Admiralty requisitioned 260 acres of land in late 1939 for the purposes of constructing an aerial bombing and gunnery range. Unusually, the entire operation at HMS Vulture II was staffed by the Women's Royal Naval Service.

On 16 September 1943, an American B-17 Flying Fortress was forced to make an emergency landing at HMS Vulture II. The pilot, Capt Jack Omohundro, had ignored a red flare warning him to keep clear. The plane was chronically short of fuel and running on three engines after a raid on U-boat pens at Nantes in France. The bomber had left its formation to try and preserve what little fuel it had left. Spotting the tiny Treligga airstrip, he skillfully landed 'wheels-down' just 50 yards short of the Wrens quarters.

Tide times for Backways Cove

The nearest tide reading is Port Isaac which is pretty reliable. Don't use Boscastle as the harbour and river distort the tide reading.

Directions to Backways Cove

For hardcore hikers, you can climb several hundred steps up (and then down) along the coast path from Trebarwith Strand from near the Port William pub - as the crow flies it's probably about a quarter of a mile (however a lot of that flying is upwards!). Backways Cove is included in the routes of our two most strenous circular walks on our walks page.

Alternatively there is a more gentle walk down through the fields if you walk or drive up "Black Hill" (left) opposite the turning down to the Mill House Inn (seriously steep hill - use a low gear!) and park in Trebarwith Village (e.g. on the verge opposite Trebarwith Farm). Directions down to backways cove are here.

Walks to Backways Cove

Photos of Backways Cove on Flickr

More information about Backways Cove