For a magical day out, take the family to Tintagel Castle. Its wonderful location, set high on the rugged North Cornwall coast offers dramatic views, and its fascinating ruins make it a perfect day trip.
The castle is managed by English Heritage and is open every day from 10am – 6pm. Throughout the year, a packed events programme provides great family fun including Tales of King Arthur, Castle of Legend and the Easter Adventure Quest.
Tintagel Castle is steeped in legend and mystery: it is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, and you can still visit nearby Merlin’s Cave. The castle also features in the tale of Tristan and Isolde. With a history stretching as far back as the Romans, Tintagel Castle is one of the most iconic visitor attractions in the South West.
The remains of the 13th century castle are breathtaking. Steep stone steps, stout walls and rugged windswept cliff edges encircle the great hall, where Richard, Earl of Cornwall once feasted.
We parked in the all day car park opposite and just before the Old Post Office (National Trust) and paid £2 to park all day. This is a day out for people of moderate fitness as it involves some steep climbs and narrow steps, but the views and the experience are well worth it!
Turn right out of the car park and walk 500 metres until you see a steep hill signposted to the castle. As you proceed down the hill a glorious vista opens up with sea views between the steep cliffs. The visitor centre, restaurant and toilets are situated at the end of this road. There is a Land Rover service for people who do not wish to walk but if you want to tour the castle it is necessary to climb steep steps.
After purchasing tickets you pass a small beach and Merlin’s Cave – which is defiinitely worth exploring. Climb up the steps to cross the narrow neck of land which has crumbled to leave the castle remains perched precariously on either side. Some of the walls and windows still remain and with a great leap of imagination you could picture a castle with battlements and rooms. Heading out towards the sea there are remains of small houses dating back to the Dark Ages and it makes you wonder how on earth anyone managed to build up on top of the steep cliffs all those years ago.
Megan and Wilf had a fun time clambering over the ruins and peeping over the cliff edges to the crashing waves below. The views are majestic – North Cornwall at its best, with views out to Lundy Island and down to Trevose Head.
We clambered back down and chatted to one of the guides who told us that the island is grazed by a flock of Soay sheep, a hardy breed from Scotland. The farmer herds them up the steep steps to reach the grazing – that’s some task!
We explored the great hall of the castle before retracing our footsteps back to the village. We spent two hours at the castle which was plenty of time and then enjoyed an ice cream in King Arthur’s Café at the top of the hill, a great little place which serves light bites and good coffee.
Afterwards we spent some time finding clues for a spy-themed Treasure Trail – these little packs are a good way to entertain the children and learn about the history of a place. They’re available for many towns around Cornwall (and the rest of the UK, for that matter).
It’s approximately 1 hour’s drive from Bosinver to Tintagel. Look out for the signs to Tintagel from the A39. Postcode for SatNavs: PL34 0HE.
Have you explored the area around Tintagel? We’d love to hear about your adventures! Share your thoughts below, post on our Facebook page or tweet @bosinver.