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Crackington Haven

The tiny settlement of Crackington Haven makes an impression from whichever direction you arrive.  The village is hemmed in between the towering dark cliffs of Pencarrow to the east and the expansive jutting headland of the Cambeak to the West.  The panoramas are alive with heather and gorse, with the steep sided cliffs draw you down into the little lush valley far below.  Crackington Haven itself is little more than a smattering of dwellings separated from the shingle beach by the road bridging the mouth of the steam that flows onto the beach and out into the Atlantic Rollers.

A former port trading in slate, the Coombe Barton Inn was the former Quarry master's house. The "free trade" of the smugglers continued in the coves to both sides of the village, with records of armed pirates and wreckers as far back as 1342. Inland, a scattering of cottages climb the hillside above the rolling valley, including three thatched former yeoman residences which would have been Cornish longhouses with family and livestock together under one roof.

The beach itself is tucked in between fascinating rock formations with dominated by steep sided formations to the western edge of the beach and impressive distorted shale beds below the towering cliffs to the east. Two small café's, a pub and hotel provide basic but welcome facilities and for those that are mesmerised by the rolling surf there is the chance to cool off and hire out a wetsuit and board and play below the cliffs in this well sheltered and atmospheric harbour.

The beach can feel quite busy during the day in high season, but for those on an overnight stay enjoy a tranquil and unspoilt atmosphere in the evening underneath the majestic cliffs on the beach only yards away from your bed. A pre-dinner wander back up the cliffs to Pencarrow head rewards you with fantastic sunset views of the sunset, or you can take a leisurely stroll up one of inland wooded valleys to visit the church of St Genny's and its holy well, where the locals were known as the "St Genny Wrestlers and Wreckers". The tiny hamlet occupies a haunting position in the lee of cliffs, circling with kestrel and buzzard. And as a bizarre end-note, the churchyard is so steep that one of its paths is almost level with the roof!

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