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As a child I holidayed in Tintagel many times with my family so it does hold a lot of great memories for me which means that whenever I go to Cornwall which can be up to twice a year I try my hardest to squeeze in a visit to this wonderful place. I have visited the castle a few times and as me and my partner were in North Cornwall last weekend on Sunday we decided we must go to Tintagel and also the castle. We went a couple of years ago and enjoyed it but as we are now English Heritage members so entry was free we decided it was definitely worth going.
==What makes it special?==
The castle stands on beautiful cliffs in North Cornwall. It is supposed to have been the birthplace of King Arthur who's sword Excalibur protected him from the evil magician Merlin. The castle itself is now in a state of ruin but lots of foundations are still in place and the scenery from the castle is absolutely breathtaking.
==Where is it?==
As you've probably guessed Tintagel Castle is based in the village of Tintagel on the North Cornwall coast. It is a few miles from the famous village of Boscastle and the nearest large town is Bude which is around half an hour away by car.
To get to Tintagel is fairly straightforward, you need to follow the A39 and then just follow the signs for Tintagel. It is easy to follow the signs and the roads are not too narrow compared to some in Cornwall!
It is easiest to reach Tintagel by car however there is a bus service that runs to the village. The castle itself is reached by a track going downhill towards the castle in the middle of Tintagel. There is only parking for disabled down the track, most people will need to park in one of Tintagel's car parks which are not run by English Heritage. This time we visited we parked in a car park right next to the track and paid £3 for 3 hours. I believe there are car parks which offer better value for money nearer to the top of the village. In order to get down to the castle you can either walk down the hill which takes around five minutes or you can get a land rover bus service which is good for those with mobility problems or those with young children. This service costs £1 for adults and 50p for children and dogs.
==Visitor Centre and what can be accessed for free==
At the bottom of the hill there is the visitors centre, a café, a small pebble beach, admissions office, shop and toilets. These parts of the castle grounds are open to all of the public regardless of whether you are planning to pay the admission fee in order to access all of the castle. This is nice because if you don't particularly want to trek all around the castle or don't really have the time or the money you can still get a bit of a feel for the place.
The toilets are of a decent size and I have never had to queue in them. It is worth noting that these are the only toilets so therefore if you are going up to the castle it would be wise to go before you go! The toilets are always spotlessly clean.
The beach is a lovely place to sit and look out to sea. You often see people with their dogs on here but I imagine that on a nice summers day it would be perfect for a picnic or even just a place to read a book for an hour.
You can also access parts of the castle for free which include the entrance to the castle. This is reached via some steep stone steps and includes ruins of an archway and various walls. There are lots of information boards which I really enjoyed reading as there wasn't too much on them but there was plenty to ensure you understood more about the castle. This area provides nice views back over to Tintagel and we spent around 15 minutes in this section. If you carry on under the archway you can access the coastal path and also the church. You can also head back to the village this way by heading down the slope to come out next to the stream halfway up/down the hill. In future I am always going to take this route as it is quicker and it is so much easier and less tiring!
==What extras do I get if I do pay?==
If you decide to pay the entrance fee of £5.50 for adults, £5.00 for concessions, £3.30 for children and £14.30 for a family you are entitled to access of the whole castle site (apart from a few minor areas which are not accessible due to cliff erosion).
There is much more to see over this side of the castle and there are lots of rooms marked out so you can see how big their rooms were and imagine what it would have been liked to have been there. Everything is easy to understand as again there are easy to follow boards which give you a brief history. You can carry on further and further up and if you do reach the top there is a nice grass area which would be a lovely place to spend a few hours on a less windy day. Being up here is so peaceful and tranquil and the views are beautiful.
Once in the paid area of the castle we probably spent around 30 - 40 minutes exploring. However, we arrived only an hour before closing so we would have probably stayed a bit longer if time wasn't getting on.
As the castle is situated on a cliff face it is reached by a great number of steps, some are wooden whist some are stone. Most are of a decent size but some are quite narrow. These are all very extremely dangerous when wet. Once at the top there are also various grass hills and slopes to climb so this really wouldn't be a very good place to visit for anyone with mobility problems.
==Is it worth a visit?==
Definitely. I think it is certainly worth taking a walk down to the castle even if you are not planning on paying the admission fee to enter the entire castle. Tintagel Castle is such an important part of British history it is a nice place to visit. Even without paying the admission fee I believe you could easily spend an hour here, maybe even two!
I do believe the admission fee is good value for money. English Heritage do a fantastic job of trying to preserve our heritage and proceeds from tickets go back into this wonderful project. If you can though, try to go on a calmer day so time can be spent on the beach etc.
I believe the castle will appeal to all kinds of people including those interested in history, those interested in architecture or buildings, those who enjoy walking and those who just want to take in and photograph the breathtaking scenery.
The reported birthplace of King Arthur providing stunning views of the Cornish coastline, fascinating history which is given to you in manageable chunks, very enjoyable coastal walks and peace and tranquillity just a ten minute walk away from the bustling village of Tintagel.
Well as we are moving into the tourist season again, I thought I'd post a few reviews on some of my favourite places to visit in the UK. So to get things started I will take a look at Tintagel Castle on the Northern coast of Cornwall, which I have visited on 2 occasions, and would definitely pencil in each and every time that I visit Cornwall.
Tintagel Castle is run by English Heritage, and is located just off the A39, near the pretty Cornish village of the same name. Parking facilities are located in the main village via a pay and display car park, which is approximately 600m away from the entrance to the site. The site itself is located on a rocky outcrop, attached to the mainland by a small bridge and over 100 steps. Due to this it is not suitable for disabled visitors, or those who have trouble with mobility. There is however a land rover tour, which can take the less mobile to an area where they have stunning views out over the castle. Entrance to the castle itself costs £5.50 for adults, £5 for concessions, and £3.30 for children under the age of 16. The castle is generally open from 10:00 until 18:00, and I believe that a good couple of hours should be set aside as a minimum to get the full value of a visit here. There are discounts available for bus tours and larger groups over 11 people, and dogs are also welcome on site provided they are kept on a lead at all times.
Firstly lets take a brief look at the history of the site. Tintagel Castle is steeped in history, with it rumoured to have been the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur, with Merlin's Cave situated on the beach below. The castle also features in other tales and legends from Cornish and English history, so is well worth the visit just to soak up the atmosphere. The site is marked in history from the Roman occupation of Britain right through the modern day, with it being in use almost constantly between as a defensive outpost as well as a trading post.
The island itself use to be attached to the mainland, however erosion from the sea has worn away the narrow headland, meaning the only access is over a narrow bridge with stunning views down to the collapsed rock and sea below. As stated earlier, to reach the top of the castle involved at least 100 steps, many of which are very steep and worn away in places, so due care and attention is required on the ascent and descent especially during peak hours where the narrow paths may become crowded. Due to the high nature of the site, I would suggest keeping young children to hand for their own safety too.
Once you reach the castle itself, you are free to roam about and explore the various ruins, with English Heritage having provided numerous information boards explaining the date of the ruin as well as the purpose of the structure. There are also lots of interesting little myths and legends referenced, stating where the stories may have originated. Some of the main buildings include the main courtyard, which was from medieval times, an 11th century chapel, a natural well, which supplied the outpost with water, and is now crucial as a water source in case of fire, and some 5th century ruins at the far end of the island.
As I said earlier, the steep steps make this inaccessible for the less mobile, but care is still needed when you reach the top, as the surfaces remain uneven, with cobble stones, grass and gravel making up the majority of paths. To me this just adds to the ruggedness of the whole site and adds to the atmosphere itself, and due to the remoteness of it all, you really do get a feel for what life must have been like all those years ago, as even on a calm day the wind roars in off the sea, meaning that a good warm coat is essential gear for a visit here.
Also on site are a café down on the beach, which provides locally sourced snacks such as freshly caught fish and crab, Cornish pasties and the good old fashioned cream tea. Prices are a little bit steep, but pretty much what you would expect from a tourist attraction which has to make money in the long run, and they are supporters of Fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance products where possible. There is also a small shop near at the entrance, where the usual band of souvenirs such as fridge magnets and stationary can be purchased. There is also the usual guidebook, which I must admit I am a sucker for anyway, but I personally think that this is one of the better ones that I have purchased, with not only a description of the settlements through the ages, but also an in depth look at the legends relating to King Arthur. It only costs £4, which I thought was money well spent.
I also mentioned Merlin's cave earlier, which is situated down on the beach below, again accessible via several steep steps. This is a natural cave created by the sea, and ties in well with all of the Arthurian legend present on the site. The cave can only be reached during low tide, and is not recommended on stormy days for obvious safety reasons.
In addition to just visiting the site, English Heritage also put on various special events at the site throughout the year, such as an archaeological day for families, as well as King Arthur days, where volunteers dress up in period costume to bring the site back to life. Although I have never experienced any of these myself, I can imagine them being very enjoyable for children and definitely worth looking up if you are in the region when they are taking place.
So to sum this up, I would recommend Tintagel castle to anyone who is taking a holiday to Cornwall or Devon, as it is an exceptional day out with something for everyone, from rugged landscapes and breathtaking views out over the sea, to the rich history of the area, to the myths and legends of Britain, which may also have gained more popularity lately due to the recent showing of Merlin on BBC television. Tintagel is not to be missed, and after you have seen the sites, it is worth taking a few extra minutes to have a look around the quaint little village itself, as there is a fantastic fudge shop near to the car park!
Thanks for reading and this review also appears on Ciao under my same username.
Tintagel Castle is situated on the coast of North Cornwall just outside the medieval village of Tintagel, north of Padstow and south of Bude. It was supposed to be the mythical home of King Arthur. Theres plenty of parking in Tintagel village for the castle priced at £2 for all day. The price of entry into Tintagel Castle is £4.90 for adults, £2.50 for children. Free for English Heritage members and corporate members and their families. On reflection I would have been a bit annoyed to have to have paid £10 for the two of us to get in, as to be honest calling it a castle is a bit steep.
The main part of the castle is built on the top of an outcrop of rock, now only attached the mainland by a small slip of rock. To gain access you need to cross a wooden bridge and climb up steep stone steps, these wouldn't be great for small children nor when raining as you can't fit two people up/down at any one time. Once you get up top of the cliffs you are treated with alot of ruins and low walls which they try and work out what they once were, but they're not sure at all what most of them were! There are some amazing views and the cliff sides are steep with no guardrails to stop you falling off the edges. But otherwise it's pretty disappointing and not much or any of a castle.
There is a visitor centre at the bottom with a shop selling all the usual English Heritage stuff, which I must say is improving over the last few years from when I was a child. There is also a very modern cafe and restaurant selling good quality food and drink and good size indoor seating area, and some outside seats for when it's less windy.
There is also a land rover service for those who want a lift back up to the village for those who don't want to walk back up.
We visited Tintagel Castle last week (24 June 09), it was not the brightest of days, as rain was in the air and it was pretty grey.
When we say we visited it, well we walked down the steep path (approx 1/4 - 1/2 mile) to the cafe, shop and toilets, and round the side onto the wooden pathway leading up to the ruins. We walked along the pathway to the beautiful cove below with wooden steps leading to the beach below - it's a bit of a trek but worth it with 1 cave going right the way through the front half of the castle (known as Merlin's cave). It's pretty dark inside and as you get towards the other side gets rather wet. There are other caves around, but as the sea was on its way in I certainly wouldn't want to take the chance.
The castle itself is split in 2 halves, one half on the mainland can be accessed using the coastal path, the other is on what is called the Island and a wooden bridge crosses over to it at which point a spiralling staircase leads you into the inner courtyard. We didn't walk over to the castle for a number of reasons - the Island part is run by English Heritage and £4.95 per adult seemed a little on the steep side, but my head for heights and our lack of energy certainly were the significant factors. Perhaps next year when we've done a few assault courses or marathons will make us more athletic - well it didn't effect any of the elder generations walking over, but we didn't see anyone that wasn't a bean pole walking back!
The castle is probably about 180ft above sea level, and many parts have been affected by the incoming tide, with parts of the castle falling away into the sea - some in the last 20 years. There are some very steep areas that you can walk along, but I felt a little worried - especially as many of these were rather exposed. I certainly would like to see the inside of the castle, and heights or not next time we will. One thing to note is that it's not a good idea to visit on a rough day - it is prone to high levels of sea spray.
We visited Tintagel from a caravan park in Bude (not listed on this site) which is approx 20 miles away, and as an added extra we passed through another recently known village - Boscastle. If you enjoy walking/hiking and interested in history there's enough around the castle and the church to keep you entertained for hours. There is parking available, but limited - our car park was around £2.50 for about 4 hours.
As for the Arthur legend, well that's down to your imagination, was he born here or not, and who was he really? You will never know for certain, but it certainly will inspire you.
Tintagel is linked to the legend of king arthur and merlin.
When we visited tintagel castle we parked in a car park in the village. On aproach you have a long walk downhill to the enterance. Here is where the only toilets are located. After the loo visit we made our way up the steps to the enterance gates. Here is where you pay to get in.
Once you are in you climb a large hill here you can see merlins cave and nearby a waterfall. Apparently you can walk down to this athough we didn't.
There are two sides of the castle on two seperate hills. These are accessable via sets of steep steps. For the castles you have to use your imagination of what it once looked like as it is now in ruins.
Once on top of the hills the views are breathtaking. The coast here is ruggied and beautiful. Another bonus is that it is a great spot for bird watching.
I wouldn't recommend taking young children to this attraction because there are no fences on the hills. Because of the ammount of steps I also wouldnt recommend it for disabled people to visit here either.
Finally after walking round the castle which takes a while as its pretty big we made our way towards the exit and back up the steep hill (pausing at the conviently placed ice cream van half way up).
Tintagel is a small village on the north coast of Cornwall, about 45 minutes drive from Bodmin and not too far from major coastal resorts like Newquay. I don't know much about the legend of King Arthur or Merlin and co, so I was hoping I'd still be able to enjoy a visit to his birthplace. Parking at the official castle visitor's centre car park, it's about 15 minutes walk to the castle itself. Leaving the busy little village turning off down a steep single lane track towards the coast. It levels out a bit after a hundred metres and is joined by a stream running alongside, and soon the sea and the cliffs come into view. The coast here is awesome, the closer you get to it the more exciting it gets. At the end of the track the stream flows over the edge of a cliff and a waterfall crashes down onto the beach in the cove below. Looking over the edge you can see the various caves that the sea has eroded. The scene is truly awesome and relatively unspoilt. There are wooden railings stopping you from falling off at this point, but you can still easily clamber down to the beach below. Looking to the left you can see Tintagel head - the giant rock separated from the mainland by the sea hundreds of years ago, with the ruins of the castle visible on the nearest side. To go beyond here you'll have to pay the English Heritage £3 each (for adults) - worth it for the views alone. The castle is on both the mainland and the rock, so there is a sturdy wooden bridge connecting the two. The stairs and paths are all made from the same kind of slate that the castle was made from so they don't detract from the ruined majesty of the place. Some of the stairs are steep and narrow and seem to just cling to the edge of the cliff face so it's not a destination for the feint hearted or small children (no place for a push chair!). However, if you're not afraid of heights and you have the energy to climb the stairs and w
alk a couple of miles then you'll be in for a treat. Don't forget your camera too. The castle itself is generally just the main walls here and there with the odd plaque identifying which part of the castle is which. The plaques are interesting and there's a small bookshop with more information about all aspects of the place, but what really makes Tintagel Castle is the location - 360 degree views and the fact that there are no other buildings for quite a distance, it's like something out of a fantasy film. I only had about an hour to spend there so I came away having learnt very little about King Arthur and Merlin, but I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and can't wait to get my photos back.