Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tintagel Cornwell

If you are ever visiting the south west of England and are in the North Devon area then a short car journey to Tintagel is highly recommended. From Westward Ho! the journey is less than an hour and is interesting in it self with wonderful views, hedgerows full of montbretia and as you cross the border Cornish flags proclaiming their identity.

Tintagel is home to all things associated with the legend of King Arthur a legendary British leader. Nobody can actually prove whether King Arthur actually existed but just for a day when you visit Tintagel Castle you can believe as you are sucked in to the aura and mystery of the castle ruins, rugged cliffs and dramatic views from this site looked after by English Heritage.

There are loads of car parks in Tintagel but give the first one you come to on the left a miss ( a friendly man advised us that if we parked opposite it would cost us half as much) as this is short term parking and expensive.

As you walk through the village every shop and pub has an an Arthur, Merlin , Tristan or Isolde theme and you cannot blame them but resist the temptation until after your visit to the castle as you will need all of your energy and your climbing legs. You can use the land rover service to get to and from the castle but you will miss a lovely short walk.

The castle itself is built half on the mainland and half on a rocky promontory which is virtually an island. The ruins are of a castle built by Richard the 3rd Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century. However there is evidence of occupation since the late Roam period in the 4th century. The latest thinking is that the island was a stronghold for the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia.

The 12th century historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth cites Tintagel as the place where King Arthur was born . Son of Uther Pendragon  and Igraine , Arthur was said to be crowned king of England when he was 15. He married Guinevere and built his court at Camelot. It is said that Arthur is sleeping in a cave until his leadership is needed again!

You will need a good head for heights and plenty of puff as you climb up the steps on to the island , into the old courtyard and down to the beach.

On the beach we visited Merlin's Cave which was almost pitch dark but was occupied by some wonderful Cornish singers who made full use of the good acoustics in the cave.

The walk back up to the village was steeper than we thought but a Cornish pastie awaited!,

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