On Andy’s birthday, Pat and Adrian suggested we head to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. Cornwall borders Devon, so the drive was just over an hour. We stopped in at the cool surf town of Bude on the way for a wander and some tea before continuing on to the village of Tintagel.
We got a bite to eat at a local cafe before Andy and I split off to wander down to Tintagel Castle. Built in the 13th century, it’s long been associated with the legend of King Arthur. Initially, the link does seem to be rather tenuous, since Geoffrey of Monmouth identified the site as the place of Arthur’s conception in his 12th century book, a full century before the castle was even built. However, archeologists have recently discovered nearby remnants of a much older, Dark Age royal palace, which likely dates from the 5th or 6th century. So, maybe the legends are true after all!
The walk to the starting point was all downhill, but we knew we’d be climbing up some serious steps soon enough.
We decided to check out Merlin’s Cave first, because who wouldn’t be tempted by a cave named after Merlin?!
It definitely seemed magical. I could easily picture Merlin (or a dragon) rounding the bend.
Instead, it was just Andy.
We emerged from the mythical cave and made for an equally magical spot further down the beach.
Andy found a little cave all his own.
Now, to conquer the steps!
I think I caught him mid-speech.
We had to be pretty careful climbing the steep rocky stairs, since it was raining and they were verrrry slippery. Some people had dogs with them, but I couldn’t imagine walking Higgs up (or especially down) these on a lead.
There were a lot more ruins and trails to explore atop the cliffs than I’d realized from below, so we set out to see it all.
The wildflowers were gorgeous, especially in front of a view like this.
You can make out some old walls in that last picture. They covered the entire area, slowly becoming obscured by moss and flowers, returning to nature.
When we reached the other side of the promontory, the views were just as stunning as where we’d began. I don’t blame the medieval Cornish for choosing this site for a castle! Besides the amazing vistas, it would’ve been very hard to conquer. If you had Merlin on your side, that wouldn’t hurt either.
And here’s Andy doing what he does best, waiting for me patiently while I take photos (or daydreaming of the pub we were going to that evening for his birthday celebration).
And then we found Arthur himself, although he was a bit hollow, and contained an Andy.
I couldn’t think of a better spot for the wraith of Arthur to survey his domain.
We’d seen almost all that the clifftop site had to offer, and the rain was starting to pick up, so we headed back toward the stairway to visit one last spot before venturing back into town.
Here’s the waterfall from above.
After heading halfway down the stairs, we climbed another set to reach the final bit of the castle we hadn’t yet seen. The last part was definitely the steepest, or it could just be that we’d already climbed so many stairs.
We met Adrian and Pat back in town for a couple pints at the local pub before the drive back to Bideford. We then got cleaned up and went for a lovely dinner at an old English pub for Andy’s birthday.
On our last full day in England, the day after visiting Tintagel, we spent our time relaxing in Bideford. We had a verrrry early flight to Boston via Iceland the following day, and the drive to London isn’t exactly short. With Brexit going on, we got out just in time. Stay tuned for some pictures from the good old US of A! (I never thought I’d be blogging about travel to America).