King Arthur's Tintagel Castle and hike to Boscastle

Tintagel Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 14 › view all entries
Early morning Penzance

Of all the days of this holiday, this one will stand as one of the best. Infact, not since Glenorchy (New Zealand) and the Dingle Peninsula (Ireland) have I had such a memorable day, one of those days that will just stay etched in my mind. The agenda for the day was in and around Tintagel Castle, rumoured to be the site of King Arthur's birth.

Everyone grew up learning about King Arthur in some form or another. We've all heard about the Excalibur, Lancelot, Merlin and the Round Table. And then there's King Arthur's residence - Camelot. So along with the push that travel books give to oneself to visit this place, I myself was very very keen on seeing the sights for myself. I had been pre-warned that getting transport to this place is next to impossible, so I wasn't really surprised when I started plotting my journey and just getting there itself would take so long.

Bodmin Parkway station

I started off at 7am and headed to the Penzance station. It was Monday morning, you know it's the start of the week when you see sleepy kids in school uniforms getting ready for school, and the working force all dressed up in their cars and at the bus stop ready to start the work week. I reached the train station in about 15 minutes, and caught the train to Bodmin parkway which took me about 75 minutes. The train station is deserted, very small and literally in the middle of nowhere. The way to go to Tintagel from Penzance is rather tiring: PZ -> Bodmin Parkway (by train), and then bus to Wadebridge, and THEN another bus to Tintagel (LOL.

Wadebridge - the most unfriendly town I've seen in my life
..and then it's sunset!). Worst is, each of the stops have a 30 minute layover, very annoying. But, the mantra I follow in Cornwall is, when you're waiting on anything, why not wait for it with some CREAM TEA! So I crept into the tea shop @ the station itself, charming little box I must say, and had my Wednesday dose of cream tea. God I love this.... I've come to believe that God was indeed Cornish and had lots of cream tea and pasties before declaring gluttony as one of the 7 sins!

The bus from Bodmin Parkway to Wadebridge picked me up by 950am and I was at the Wadebridge bus stop by about 1030 am. Seriously, how creepy is this place? First time I felt a bit odd, not unsafe, just odd in this town. The thing is, the bus stop is surrounded by tons of flats but face the rears, so there isnt' really any human movement in this area save for the 1-2 people that catch a bus.

Tintagel - a little town surrounded by picture perfect pastures
Very odd. Anyway I caught a bus to Tintagel from here, now this ride was fun. It was back to rural England, back to green England, back to neatly maintained pastures and cows and the odd sighting of a sea and of a rock. Very lovely. For some reason, I kept dozing off during the ride. This was one habit my mum has told me never to do when travelling for 2 reasons - 1, you don't want someone stealing your stuff when you're asleep and 2, you don't want to miss the general landscape of the country you're visiting.

Anyways I reached Tintagel a bit after noon, went to the Visitor's Centre and checked my email. I stopped by a rsnt nearby for some...erm...CREAM TEA!! and made my way down the little road that leads up to the ruins of the Castle. It's a nice place, very laidback and not overcrowded with Tourists.

Cream tea time!
Plus the weather was A+. Same old crispy sunshine and cool relaxing breeze. I passed by tons of stores, the old Post office (what is that, seriously??), and finally landed up in Tintagel Castle. Rather, landed down at the place. Boy it's a walk, innit?! You go down to the visitor's office, then climb back... I don't know how the elderly do it.

I walked around the base of the castle, the blue waters reminded me of Thailand. It's so un-UK I must say. Who would've thought I'd be visiting the UK and talking about crystal blue waters. That's the thing about the UK, it just never ceases to amaze me! Another thing I noticed in this part of the country is more British tourists than foreign tourists, save for a few Germans and me! I think it has to do with the rather complicated and infrequent transport schedules, not to mention that the major tourist attractions aren't served by train, and you're often running from pillar to post trying to make sense of the timings and co-ordinating various journeys.

Headed towards the Castle

Back to the Castle though - it really is in ruins! To the naked eye that has no clue on the (supposed) significance of the place, it's best described as remnants of Hadrian's Wall all piled up atop a hill. However, the real beauty that no one talks about Tintagel is the VASTNESS. The airy feeling. Forget the Castle, this place could have a Krispy Kreme or a Burlington's Coat Factory and it would still look every bit magnificent. The whole scenery is stunning and overpowering even the historical clout of the Castle.

I wandered around the 'circle'/island for about 1 hour, taking in the sea breeze and the sunshine. I was deliberating on whether or not I should walk to Boscastle or just take the bus there.

The old Post office. Seriously, what is this?!
... the idea of walking seemed way too tempting, and a must-do as many had suggested. Besides, Tintagel is all but one street. And the castle. And the majestic views. Take away that street and there isn't really much to do in this city, and it was only 2:15pm. So I decided to actually walk... and I walked and walked...about 5 miles... through the rugged coastline...I went up and down, the breeze, the sunshine, it was cool one minute, chilly the next, unbearably hot again, it was just a rollercoaster. I met a few people also doing the trek... this time of my life was just amazing...

The scenery was just so much to take. I don't know another time in my life where I've been huffing and puffing trying to walk fast enough (to make the 5pm bus back to Wadebridge), the camera click-clicking on either side.

Making my way down to the Visitor's Centre of Tintagel
..it was the uphill-downhill scenery, the sea to the left of me, the green pastures and the cows grazing to the right of me, the breeze, such a rush in my mind. I remember stopping at a few places during the trek and taking some panoramic pictures which you can see in their glory here... it was just amazing. One of those few moments that will stay with me for life. And the best part was how atmospheric the whole thing was! You rarely see people around you. Essentially it's like God created the earth, the sea and the English pastures, and put you as the only human being on it! Surreal. Totally totally surreal.

I reached  Boscastle around 430pm. Now this is one pretty town. It reminded me of Pickering in Yorkshire from my trip two years ago.

At the base of the island - blue tropical waters
It's a zig zag main street deep in a narrow valley, the harbour looks like a big clean ditch filled with fishing nets, etc and the town by itself has a few hostels, hotels and a witchcraft museum of all things (LOL). It's a winding little road that doubles up for both traffic as well as human beings. There were a lot of people here, and I'm not suprised. Boscastle is one of the tiniest towns I've seen in my life. There's no buildings up the hill or farther away, it's just this zig zag stretch and that's it. I had some well deserved Cornish ice cream (because the shop I went to was sold out of cream tea!), and waited for my bus with lots of photo ops to keep me busy in the meantime.

My return journey to Wadebridge was long...this particular bus goes through St.Isaac which adds another 30 minutes to it.

Panoramic view of the Tintagel Castle
But as I mentioned in a previous blog, I really didn't mind it. I mean, go home early and do what? The beauty of Cornwall is just driving through it. Reached Wadebridge at about 620pm, caught the bus to Bodmin Parkway and boarded the train back to Penzance, reaching the town by 845pm and my hostel by about 915pm. The sun had just begun to set.

When I reached the hostel, and I put my shoes down, I could finally feel what a long day it's been. And how much I've seen and felt and learnt and taken in, all at the same time. I went down, cooked my dinner, met 2 very interesting German ladies who were hiking around the area, and slept by about 11pm that night. My roommates along with the cool Canadian were a British busdriver and an overweight Aussie bloke. I was so tired but I couldn't sleep that nght in the sheer excitement of what I'd been through the whole day.

Atop the island
.. I kept looking at the pics I took over and over again. I couldn't believe it, I actually saw Tintagel Castle. I was ready to fly back to the US the next day, that's how contented I was!

I did of course check the bus schedule for the next Kodak Moment trip of mine - Land's End (cont'd on the next entry).

junartkim says:
Great blog! I am planning a trip to Tintagel and it as surely very helpful. Thanks Vikram!
Posted on: Mar 02, 2013
Chathol-linn says:
This reivew was very helpful. Thanks for posting it. I was especially interested in your details of how you actually got to Tintagel.
Posted on: Jun 14, 2008
eirien says:
wonderful!!! Oh how i love magic Cornwall :)
Posted on: May 20, 2008
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Early morning Penzance
Early morning Penzance
Bodmin Parkway station
Bodmin Parkway station
Wadebridge - the most unfriendly t…
Wadebridge - the most unfriendly …
Tintagel - a little town surrounde…
Tintagel - a little town surround…
Cream tea time!
Cream tea time!
Headed towards the Castle
Headed towards the Castle
The old Post office. Seriously, wh…
The old Post office. Seriously, w…
Making my way down to the Visitor…
Making my way down to the Visitor…
At the base of the island - blue t…
At the base of the island - blue …
Panoramic view of the Tintagel Cas…
Panoramic view of the Tintagel Ca…
Atop the island
Atop the island
Great view of the Castle ruins
Great view of the Castle ruins
Oh the scenery!
Oh the scenery!
yep, Im beginning my hike to Bosc…
yep, I'm beginning my hike to Bos…
There I smile...its just the STAR…
There I smile...it's just the STA…
Fellow hikers feeding a stray horse
Fellow hikers feeding a stray horse
The green pastures, taken during t…
The green pastures, taken during …
Now this is one of my favourite pi…
Now this is one of my favourite p…
Look at those fields.
Look at those fields.
Love this snap. Deffo printing it …
Love this snap. Deffo printing it…
Woohooo! I made it. Boscastle baby!
Woohooo! I made it. Boscastle baby!
View of Boscastle from the harbour
View of Boscastle from the harbour
fishermans ware
fisherman's ware
The witchcraft museum
The witchcraft museum
Cornish icecream
Cornish icecream
Western Greyhound - my transport i…
Western Greyhound - my transport …
Tintagel
photo by: Vikram