Tintagel: the castle and beyond

If you love myths, legends and history, then a staycation is absolutely bound to suit you. Why? Because there are so many wonderful castles and other characterful historical sites to explore right here in the UK. In my opinion, if you want the ultimate experience you should make a beeline for Tintagel Castle, which you’ll find on the north Cornwall coast.

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Below, I’m going to tell you all about this spectacular castle, as well as clue you into a few of the other things you can do in the surrounding area. Meanwhile, if you’re after some practical information on organising your trip, like listings of good places to stay, Sykes Cottages is a really reliable resource.

All about Tintagel Castle

One of the most magical things about Tintagel Castle is that it’s steeped in legend – something that helps to draw visitors year after year. It’s said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, a story that has fascinated locals, visitors and historians alike for around 800 years.

Standing on a really dramatic part of Cornwall’s coastline, the castle occupies what’s known as Tintagel Island. But, despite its name, it’s actually no island, being attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.

The surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking – think the crashing waves of the coast, dramatic cliffs and wild headlands. In fact, it’s actually the views that a lot of people come up here for! The castle is reached by climbing up around 100 stone steps – a walk that helps get you in the mood for the brooding ruins that await you at the top.

Heavy walls, steep steps and cliff edges will greet you on arrival, and you can walk through the shell of the castle picking your way across cobbles and flagstones, as well as grassy, rocky patches where nature has triumphed over the bastion.

Once you’ve finished exploring the castle itself, you can take a walk to another legendary site, Merlin’s Cave, which is located just below Tintagel Castle. Be careful though – it’s only accessible at low tide; at high tide, it fills with water.

Local sights and attractions

While the castle is what most people come to see, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to do in Tintagel. The village of the same name, for instance, is an absolutely brilliant place to visit – especially since it has embraced its associations with Merlin with gusto, allowing you to continue the experience you began at the castle.

Things to do in the village include visiting the ancient church of St Materiana’s, which is on Glebe Cliff. An impressive example of Norman architecture, it has barely changed over the past 900 years. What’s more, it’s also home to some fascinating historical artefacts.

It’s also worth paying a visit to Tintagel Old Post Office, which probably sounds odd at first, but this 14th-century building is incredibly atmospheric. Once upon a time, it was a farmhouse, but these days it’s managed by the National Trust and hosts an array of events – most of these are family friendly, so coming here could be a particularly good choice if you’ve got the kids in tow.

And, just as a parting tip, if you’ve got a sweet tooth (like me!) then make sure you don’t leave without heading to Granny Wobbly’s Fudge Pantry – you’ll be bowled over by all the amazing flavours. Plus, all the fudge is made onsite, and in a traditional fashion.