Monday, October 2, 2017

Tintagel Castle and Port Isaac

Our plan for the day today was to visit Tintagel Castle and Port Isaac. The castle is on an island just off the coast. It was inhabited back in the Dark Ages, around 450-650 AD. It again came into prominence in the 13th century when a castle and some other buildings were added. Legend says that King Arthur was conceived here by Ygraine, his mother, and Uther Pendragon; however, it may be only a made-up tale. In any case, it was a site I was interested in.

It was only about a 40-minute drive to the village of Tintagel. We are doing pretty well with the combination of the GPS we brought along (with a UK SD card) and the large atlas I had purchased. The atlas is very detailed and has helped a lot when we weren't all that sure where we were.

There were a number of car parks in the village; we couldn't quite tell where we were going, so we just picked one and walked a short distance to the top of the path down. The ticket booth and information centre are about a quarter-mile down a good path. There was a shuttle service available, but we walked. At the ticket booth we talked with the kind woman there and ended up buying one-year senior passes for all English Heritage Sites. The 9- and 16- day passes weren't quite long enough for us. It will be convenient to have the pass as we visit other sites.

From the ticket booth, we headed up the hill and crossed a short bridge. There were quite a few steps. Looking down into the cove, it was hard to believe that boats could have come in there.

At the top of the hill are ruins of the 13th-century buildings. We were a bit surprised at how small the rooms were for a castle.

From the ruins area, it was a further climb to the full top of the hill. Here is Dan standing on a rock with a church in the far distance on the mainland.

From the top, looking back toward the village you can see the Camelot Castle Hotel on the far left and the village strung along the horizon. Down below the white buildings are at the visitor centre. The waterfall on the lower left is flowing into the cove. It was quite spectacular.

When we got back to the village we stopped for tea and shared a scone. The Cornish clotted cream is delicious!

Next we headed to Port Isaac, the charming fishing village where the Doc Martin BBC TV show is filmed. It is indeed a nice little village. We were fortunate to find a parking lot fairly close to the centre of town. We walked in through the main area of shops. The only thing reminiscent of the TV show was a fudge shop that is used as the pharmacy, although the harbor did look familiar. This view is from the coastal path on the way back to our car.

By the time we were finished in Port Isaac, it was only about 2:30. Our B&B prefers us not to come in between 11 and 4, so we thought we'd try something else. Looking in the National Trust book we were given, we spotted a site that wasn't much out of the way. The St Breock Downs Monolith was described as one of the oldest in the region, so off we went. Much of the way was on the narrow roads without a name -- the GPS just announced "turn left on The Road." These are one-lane roads with occasional wider spots where two cars can pass. Usually when we met a car, one of us had to back up until it was wide enough to get through. It often didn't feel like enough space to me, but it worked. The sides of these roads have hedges, but beware:  there are rock walls under most of them.

The monolith was at the end of one of these roads. We were totally underwhelmed! It is just standing in a field and didn't really look all that big. We had to maneuver carefully to turn around and head back. But it was a fun adventure and we got back just at 4:00.

Tomorrow we leave Cornwall for Bath and the Cotswolds. This has been a great start to our trip.

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