Tintagel Castle. Mythical home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Just the name alone conjures up images of battles & wizards & honour.
Whether you believe the legend or not, a real castle stood on this hilltop- and the ruins are still open to be explored today. There is also Merlin’s cave which you can explore at low tide.
Watch the video of our trip to Tintagel Castle here:
We spent the night before at King Arthur’s car park in Tintagel. There are loads of car parks in this one small town- and nearly all of them allow overnight motorhome parking. We drove around several (all of which had plenty of space even in October half term) and chose to stop at King Arthur’s because it was the flattest one which was hard standing. Normally we don’t mind camping on grass, but it had rained so much and we didn’t want to get stuck- we need to remember Little Ship 2 is a lot heavier than our old van! The car park cost £4 for 24 hours – which was pretty good for a major tourist attraction! It’s a normal car park though, so don’t expect any services.
It was great to wake up that morning and be able to walk to Tintagel Castle. The English Heritage office is only about 2 minutes from the car park- but then you have a LONG walk down to the ruins themselves. Price for non-members was £9.30 with gift aid. Check the opening times on their website as they close over the winter except for weekends. Dogs are allowed but MUST be kept on leads.
The walk down to the start of the ruins is steep, but downhill. There is a land rover service which runs during holidays- we were very thankful for this on the way back! I think it was £2 per person per trip. At the bottom there’s a little shop, cafe & toilets. Use these- there are NO toilets once you’ve climbed up to Tintagel Castle – and it’s a long climb!
As you can see in the video, the bay at the base of the hill is beautiful- the sea is clear and such a gorgeous turquoise colour. Merlin’s cave is in this bay- but be careful of the tides. The office where you buy tickets can tell you when it’s safe to explore- remember this is Cornwall and the tide comes in crazy fast from both sides of the cave- please please be careful. We were lucky that it was high tide when we arrived so it was going out all morning.
We climbed up to Tintagel Castle ruins- very VERY steep steps and we were all exhausted when we got to the top. There is only one way up and down so there was lots of stopping and starting. It probably takes around 20 minutes of non stop climbing from the cafe to the top. The more elderly or less fit might really struggle- we saw several people give up and turn back. Unfortunately, because it is an ancient castle built onto a hill, there is no other way to get up there!! But the views are definitely worth it once you’re up.
Make sure you go to visit the Knight of Tintagel Castle. He’s right on the cliff edge- about a 20 minute walk from the top of the stairs- but it’s a fantastic sculpture. There is also an old stores which the inhabitants of the castle would have used to keep food fresh- it’s only a tunnel now but cool to see.
Apart from that, there are a load of stone walls. They don’t really make much sense on the ground but you can see the layout of the castle really clearly on our drone shots.
After we’d squeezed our way down the steep steps again the tide had gone out enough for Merlin’s cave to be open. As cave’s go it was pretty impressive- you could see the light from the other side and the waves were crashing in. Baby Bird decided she just HAD to go stand in the middle of the rocks…. there go another pair of boots! But for someone who says she’s not very athletic, it was an impressive piece of balancing!
The cave was definitely our favourite part of the day, although the drone shots of Tintagel Castle are pretty special too. After we’d cheated and paid for the landrover to take us back up the hill to the entrance (don’t judge until you’ve done it) we headed off for the last night of our holiday.
We wild camped in a small carpark next to Roadford Lake.
N 50°41’58.2” W -4°12’53.604”
It was totally peaceful and undisturbed all night. Quick bacon sandwich in the morning and we set off for home- past Stonehenge.
All in all- a great unexpected trip to Cornwall. Looking forward to the next one!
To see how we ended up in Cornwall instead of Norfolk, start here.
Have you ever been to Tintagel Castle? How did you find the climb??