The village of Tintagel is near to Boscastle and Camelford and is famous for the famous castle there that is linked to Arthurian legends; the village is well worth a visit on its own standing, there are some really pretty stone cottages and wonderful shops (including a fantastic Cornish Pasty shop where you can see the pasties being made), many of which use the King Arthur and Camelot connection to trade in arts, crafts and gifts all with a mythical feel and a rather hefty price tag. When visiting Tintagel you really must go and see the lovely little old post office, it is actually a 14th-century stone house that is built in the theme of a medieval manor house – only in miniature – the post office and its gardens now belong to the National Trust.
Tintagel Castle (often known as King Arthur’s Castle), or what is left of it, is maintained by the English Heritage, who do such a wonderful job of looking after so many of our national treasures. As I said, there is not much left now of the castle just some ruins and the outline of its walls, moats and towers, but what it does have in bucketfuls is atmosphere. The castle is reputed to have been the birthplace of the somewhat mythical King Arthur, and when you visit it you can’t help but imagine that this castle, in its dramatic setting was indeed Camelot and home to the mythical king, his Round Table and his knights.
The 13th century Castle is located on the rugged and dramatic slate peninsular that is practically an island (in fact it is known as The Island) it is only connected to the mainland by an extremely thin piece of land. he castle, high on a 300-foot cliff, is actually reached by steps from the main land, as over the centuries much of it has fallen into the pounding waters below and although once attached to the main land the erosion over the years means that now there is only a bridge to get between the two. The ruins belong to a castle that was built around 1230 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and is now the property of the Duchy of Cornwall, currently Prince Charles. It is actually in two halves – firstly on the mainland and it can be reached by following the coastal path from St Materiana’s
Church, the second part is on ‘The Island’ and you reach it by crossing the wooden bridge and then climbing a spiral staircase into the inner courtyard.
I would really recommend a walk down to the beautiful cove under the castle, there (when you get your breath back) you can really indulge in your Arthurian daydreams and take a peep into ‘Merlin’s Cave’ an entrance in the dark rocks, that is reputed to have been the home of the great wizard himself’ it certainly feels the part – however the fact that the water fills the cave at high tide sort of dispenses of the myth straight away – even so there are local legends of Merlin’s spirit still haunting the cave!To visit the castle on ‘The Island’ you need to pay an admission price that goes to the English Heritage, the prices are £5.20 per adult, £4.40 concessions, £2.60 for children 5-15 – under 5’s free), £13.00 for a family ticket (2 Adults, 3 Children) or free for members of English Heritage; although there is not a great deal of the castle left to see it is well worth the price for the fantastic views and atmosphere, but this is somewhere that is not suitable for people with walking difficulties as it is quite hard going, and whenever I have been the wind seems to swirl around you.
The castle is a great place for kids, but not for people who to not like to walk, it can be a little hard going – but in a fun way! I advise you to take plenty of water, and don’t forget the camera – you need at least two hours to enjoy the site.
Open every day from 10am.Except 24 – 26th December and January 1stThe closing times are 4pm – 1st November to March 31st, 6pm – 1st April to 30 September and 5pm – during October.
It must be noted that to visit the castle the EASIEST way is up 100 steep steps and there are many uneven surfaces however there is a Land Rover service that runs between April and October that can take disabled people to the exhibition and shop but a visit to the ’The Island’ itself would be VERY difficult for disabled visitors. There is no parking at the castle so you will need to park in the village which is around 600 metres away and is pay and display. There is no disabled parking onsite.
There are plenty of places to eat in the village but there is also the Beach Café at the castle site next to the castle shop.
What about King Arthur?
We will never know the true facts – was Arthur real or just legend, was Tintagel the place of his birth and is it true that when he died his spirit returned there? But just to whet your imagination a little if you do plan a visit, in 1998 there was a 6th century slab uncovered at Tintagel, on which was the inscription “Pater coli avi fecit Artognov”, meaning “Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had this built”. The dowdy old architects say that all this proves is that in the 6th century there was a rich person called Arthur who lived at Tintagel – but for those of us who love to dream and imagine that this magical place really WAS the home of Camelot – we can grasp at the facts like a straw.