During our recent visit to Cornwall we decided to visit one of the local attractions near to where we were staying. We’d never stayed in this part of Cornwall before, so we thought we’d take advantage of being somewhere new.
From where we were staying (Bude) Tintagel Castle is around 30 minutes away by car. Plus, the drive itself takes you along the coast; passing Boscastle – which is another great place for an afternoon stroll!
We love getting out and about; especially if there’s a castle involved, so we were looking forward to what we were about to find!
Tintagel Castle is located in North Cornwall and is famous for it’s connection with the legend of King Arthur. It’s also home to some of the most rugged and dramatic coastline you’ll see in Cornwall, not to mention some of the oldest! Dating back to between the 5th and 7th century, it has acted as the residence of many rulers of Cornwall.
The site itself is built across both mainland and headland, however very little is now left of the main castle. That being said, never being far from a view or two makes up for this!
During our visit, we parked in a nearby car park within the main village of Tintagel and walked to the castle. This allowed us to browse some of the local shops as well as plan lunch for later. We also pre-booked our tickets as advised, which meant we could enter without queuing.
Both the castle and the surrounding area boast a vast number of hills, therefore be prepared for this. Some of the paths are wheelchair friendly, however as you get closer to the main ruins access becomes very limited due to uneven ground.
The walk to the main entrance took us around 30 minutes, however this included some stops for snacks and water, as well as photo-taking! The weather was gorgeous the day we visited which meant there was lots of stopping.
Once we arrived at the main “gate” we then started our step-free climb to the mainland courtyard area. This is where the famous drawbridge is situated and is the last stop before crossing over to the island. The crossing itself actually disappeared between the 14th and 17th centuries, leaving the castle divided by a natural chasm, but in August 2019, work to reconnect Tintagel’s divided landscape was finished.
Once we crossed over and onto the island, we were invited to explore the remains of the 13th Century castle and medieval settlements. Throughout the site are detailed displays offering information as well as insights into what life was like on the island.
Exploring the main island easily occupied the majority of our day, what with the breathtaking 360 views and expansive land for T to run around on, but that’s not all that Tintagel Castle has to offer. Once you’ve completed your tour of the main castle, ruins and garden area, you’re invited to make your way out by passing through one of Tintagel’s best kept secrets; the beach!
This part of the tour includes a very steep staircase which leads to the exit, with steps that are made out of stone. I am unsure whether you can access an alternative route (ie. back via the bridge) if you can’t travel via the stairs, so please do check this out on the website.
Regardless of the season, the beach – whilst polite in size – is perfect for blowing the cobwebs away. When we visited, we saw people paddle-boarding and going for casual swims in the bay area. When the tide is out, children are welcome to explore Merlin’s cave itself (at your own risk, obviously. This beach is not protected by a lifeguard).
Once you’ve made your way out of the main castle, you’re back at the beginning again. In this area you will find the gift shop, exhibition room and cafe. There’s also a few kiosks to grab an ice cream or drink.
This was a great end to the tour and thanks to a one-way system being in place we were a able to see everything that needed to be seen; that we might have not seen if there wasn’t a one-way system in place. After a quick browse of the shop, we then walked back up the hill.
If you need to or cannot face the hill, there is a handy shuttle service courtesy of a fleet of landrovers that take visitors back up the hill. This is a chargeable service.
Tintagel Castle was a great find and broke our camping trip up nicely. There was so much to see and do (and then some!). The views are worth the visit alone. During our visit, we didn’t make it down to the beach in it’s entirety in the end, however this just gives us another reason to visit when we’re back in the area again!
Have you visited Tintagel Castle? What did you think? What are your memories?