Whatever your views on all things ‘King Arthur’, this is a great place to visit.
Whilst Karen and Sophie were happily looking around the ‘themed’ shops, I of course headed out towards the Castle/Cliff Fort with Dafydd. It is a bit of a hike from the town out to the headland and I’m afraid it would be difficult (impossible) for those with mobility problems. There are a series of steep stone steps to get up to the headland.
For those who are able to make it the views are simply superb. Waves crashing on rocks all around; fine coastal views on both sides. (It helps of course if the weather is good!) There actually isn’t that much to see of the castle ruins although the outline of the ‘Dark Age’ buildings are very interesting. There are several information boards scattered around and much more details in the guide book you can buy.
We then made our way down onto the beach to have a look at ‘Merlin’s Cave’ (Dafydd wanted to throw pebbles into the sea). This is even more difficult to access than the castle as the lower concrete steps have been washed away by the sea and you have to clamber over large boulders. There were lots of people about but you do need to be fairly agile.
Unsurprisingly Dafydd developed his ‘bad leg syndrome’ on the steep walk back up to the town and we agreed on a joint carry/walk solution. By the time I reached the top of the slope I was pretty well knackered. Perhaps the £3 I could have paid to have been driven up the hill in a Land Rover wasn’t so expensive after all?
All in all well worth a visit.
Don’t let the ‘Arthur’ hype put you off.
Our latest visit to Tintagel ended in us not even visiting the castle. The village is quite awful now so we parked just outside the village towards Boscastle and visited St. Nectans Glen and waterfall, which will not disappoint. Afterwards we carried on to Boscastle and paid our latest visit to the Museum of Witchcraft, where we always end up spending a couple of hours reading every exhibit, a must see.
In a stroke of genius I booked another week in Cornwall for the week the clocks change, and a week of stunning weather! It is early April and Bodmin Moor is tinder dry. Just before I arrived there had been several small fires in North Cornwall nd the day I left there was a large gorse fire at the other end of Cornwall (on the Lizard peninsula).
I stopped off in Dartmoor on the way, the sun was blazing and Fernworthy forest was so peaceful. Although it’s usually only the circle that is talked about Fernworthy is one of these ‘complexs’ with a stone circle , two cairns and cairn circles, two stone rows, and possible others. I was so taken in that I began to think I was an archaeologist for a day and soon I will have to unleash diagrams onto this fantastic TMA site! The south side of the forest also has a stone row. And a brisk walk onto the moor brings you to the Greywethers, a restored and stunning double circle. I also tried to find the Heath Stone on the way out. Does visiting ancient sites get much better than today?
On Sunday I went to the St Breock Downs area, checking out the St Breock Wind Farm Barrow, the colossal Men Gurta Menhir, and peering at the St. Breock Downs Menhir. I then moved south to the China Clay country (sounds like a theme park) to find the moved Menevagar / Roche Longstone and the huge Hensbarrow - this is the highest natural point in the area and the views back across the valley are stunning, with the St Breock Downs wind farm clearly visible. However, if you ignore the nice bit of the view you could just as easily think you are sitting on the moon as the clay works surround you. To round off a pretty lazy day I visited the two sites closest to where I was staying – Headon Barrow and Warbstow Bury, the later being quite stunning and the best-preserved hill slope fort in Cornwall.
On Monday I pleasured myself (steady on!) with a trip to the St.Austell Brewery - http://www.staustellbrewery.co.uk - and onto Mevagissey for sarnies on the harbour. I had forgotten my maps so instead of heading off for some yomping on Bodmin Moor I had to pull Plan B out, which was a visit to The County Museum in Truro - http://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk - I knew that the famed cup marked stone from the Tregiffian Burial Chamber was there, as was a copy of the Rillaton Cup, and other things. There is a huge amount to see and as they are a registered charity it is £4 well spent (and please fill out a Gift Aid form, so they can reclaim your tax!)
I really don’t seem to have got the hang of these ‘holidays’ have I? Not much resting going on, so I only went out on the moors late on Thursday, and spent some of Friday re-reading one of favourite books on the beach at Crackington Haven (‘Life and Times of Michael K’ by J.M.Coetzee if anyone is interested).
Tintagel 1994 meant my 30st birthday, and much more besides that. I'm an Arthurian buff (though not necessarily a believer) and to be here at Arthur's supposed birthplace on my birthday meant a lot.
The village is too touristic to stay long (only if you want your Arthurian stuff, it's THE place to be and spend your money dearly).
Best run along to the coast and the Norman castle, and of course the peninsula beyond.
This is where the (in)famous ARTOGNOU stone was discvered, a fake to some (of course, ALL referring to Arthur must be..), proof to others (nonsense, it's a different name), very nice old stuff to me. This was a true Dark Ages site, possibly a monastery, but more likely a palace of sorts, owned by a powerful lord with control over shipping and possibly even across the Channell. Maybe not Arthur, but Arthurian for sure!
... We came to Tintagell Head, a spot more than commonly interesting, not only from the grandeur of its local scenery, but its connection with names and events of our remotest history.
This promontory was once entirely separated from the mainland, but is now connected with it at its base, by a mound of earth which has fallen from the cliffs above. We climbed up it by the best, and indeed the only path, a most frightful ascent over steps of rock, projecting, at very irregular intervals, from the side of a precipice.
On the top, which includes an area of about three acres of ground, are the ruins of a castle, once the residence of the earliest kings and dukes of Cornwall, and illustrious as the birthplace of the far-famed king Arthur.
Lord Bacon observes of this prince, that there is truth enough in his history to make him famous, besides that which is fabulous; determining, I suppose, that all is true, except what is outrageously impossible. All authorities decide that he was born in Tintagell castle, and I see no reason for questioning the fact, provided we admit he was born at all. After having accomplished many deeds that were inconceivably glorious, and have already filled too many volumes to require any illustration from me, he received his daeth blow in a battle with his rebellious relation, Mordred, near Camelford, and not many miles from Tintagell.
[...] I should advise all visitors to Tintagell to content themselves with thus imagining a castle for king Arthur, for I can assure them that, though they may sacrifice their lives by attempting to reach the summit of the promontory, they can see nothing there but the rubbish of an old wall, out of which imagination will be infinitely more puzzled to construct a castle than out of the rocks below
From 'A voyage round Great Britain, undertaken in the summer of the year 1813', by Richard Ayton and William Daniell (a pair who look very dapper in their portraits, and who are (sometimes) refreshingly sympathetic to the poor and their living conditions).