Tintagel, on the north coast of Cornwall, is a village steeped in Arthurian Legend, or in other words is alleged to be the former home of King Arthur. Now run by English Heritage, you can visit the site, enjoy the coast, and learn what part Cornwall may have played in this historical tale.
We headed out to visit on a lovely sunny day recently, so I thought I’d share the day with you, here on the blog!
Tintagel is quite a small village, located on the north coast of Cornwall. In some places parking can be touch and go; though there are several car parks, the one nearest the castle is usually full quite quickly. The car parks are privately owned, and you are charged hourly. On the other hand there are a nice amount of pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes, so if you have extra time, there is more to do in the area!
To get to the castle, head towards the sea, you can’t really miss it!
Located on the cliffs overlooking the sea, it’s not great for those with mobility issues, and there is a lot of walking. However there is the option of getting a lift down to the entrance, or back up the hill, for a small fee.
The castle, now rests in ruin, though the foundations remain. You can take a walk through the site, located on the cliffs above beautiful seascapes, and learn as you go… Explore foundations of historic medieval homes, and the castle itself. Learn about Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and his creation, a clifftop castle.
There are display boards throughout the site, which keep you informed of where you stand, whether it is the great hall, or the chapel! You can read stories of the history of Tintagel castle, surrounded by beautiful wildflowers and wild seas! (Or in our case, glorious sunshine).
In its original state, Tintagel was a medieval stronghold. Quite possibly, this is what inspired British cleric and chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth; to name it as the place where King Arthur was conceived. At the very least, it is likely that Geoffrey of Monmouth inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build his cliff-top castle here in the 13th Century.
The New Bridge
You enter as those historic people would have, crossing the footbridge onto the clifftop island. The “new bridge” is a cantilever footbridge, which opened in August 2019. The steel, oak and Cornish slate bridge now spans the 190 foot gorge separating the two halves of the castle, replacing the crossing that vanished in the 15th or 16th century.
The bridge itself is amazing to look at, from several angles! It’s not as scary as it looks, honest! At the moment, there is a one way system through the site, so it’s not crowded, and everyone gets to see everything.
The coastal beauty is worth the trip alone! We weren’t lucky enough to spot any seals, though sometimes you can! There is so much to see, birds and wildlife have taken over in the most beautiful way, and you can spot all kinds of things as you explore. If that isn’t enough, there are also (somewhat controversial; I’m not going there!) artworks and more around the site, such as the magnificent Gallos (meaning ‘power’ in Cornish) – a life-sized bronze sculpture inspired by the legend of King Arthur and the regal history of Tintagel.
We even headed down to the beach to spot the Merlin carving, and honestly, from the press coverage you would think it’s enormous, so just for a little perspective, here it is!
After a LOT of walking, and exploring, and generally enjoying such a nice sunny day. We visited the shop and museum exhibition, which was quite interesting too! We also got an ice cream, because it was so hot. Taking a few minutes to sit down (lots of outside seating in the on-site café at the bottom of the steps)!
We then headed back up the hill, and stopped for a (lovely) cream tea in a nearby café; which I heartily recommend! Before hopping back in the car and heading out. We were there for four hours, (so we were glad we opted for the extra hour in the car park!) And could easily have stayed a little longer. It was a fab day out!
For more great Cornwall days out ideas, check out my National Trust list.
Have you visited any interesting sites in Cornwall, or even where you live? Share with me in the comments, or of course you can drop me a link or a message on socials (you can find all that info at the bottom of the page).