Day out: Tintagel and Lands End

19 May

You know what I remember most about Cornwall?  The ocean, of course, but then: the cliffs.  The stairs.  The climbs.  The terrifying vertigo.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, let’s start out with the cozy fourteenth-century Old Post Office, a National Trust site in Tintagel.

Check out the roof.  The slate has been in place for so long it looks like swoops of fabric.

The inside of that roof — no insulation!  This is an upstairs bedroom.  To the right (not pictured) is the ‘shelf’ where unmarried ladies slept.  Yes, the phrase ‘on the shelf’ comes from making older unmarried women actually sleep on a shelf.  Charming.

I’m a sucker for these simple table settings, although the Mary Arden Farm feast table is still my favorite.

Hmm, windows.  Something so dreamy about them.

There’s a kid’s scavenger hunt through the house, which was fun for the children, and a garden behind with some outdoor games for the younger crowd and pretty flowers for everyone.  Well worth a stop in as you walk toward the ruins of Tintagel.  This is an English Heritage property, and far more extensive than I realized.  If you don’t know anything about Tintagel, first read the Wikipedia entry.  Then spend the next three or four years reading Arthurian romances and medieval histories.  Go on, get started, come back when you’re ready.

Access to Tintagel is by foot only — or you can pay for a ride on a Land Rover.  We walked along the grassy path and down some steep stairs and over rocks to the beach to see Merlin’s Caves.  The tide was out, so we could run around on the sand.

Check out the waterfall.

Look for mermaids, or pirates.

Always be prepared: if you see someone with rabies, throw them a life preserver.

The walk from the beach to the cliff entry to Tintagel was a challenge with three hard-to-herd kids and a mother who was clenching her teeth so hard to avoid screaming in terror that she couldn’t talk.  (That would have been me.)  I didn’t take too many photos, since I was trying to keep a death grip on my sanity and my five year old.  But it was beautiful.

There’s the beach where we started, the waterfall there in the bottom right corner.

A peek through the remains of a window toward grassy cliff and sea.  (“Do not climb on the walls, danger of collapse.”  Oh, thank you, that is very encouraging.)

I managed a short walk over to the other side of the island for a view in another direction.  You see the end of the grass there?  That’s a cliff.  Which falls all the way to the water.  You see that guardrail?  Nope, me neither.  (“Hold my hand, hold my hand, holdmyhandholdmyhandholdmyhand.”)

And a walk back around to another viewpoint over the beach, caves, and look at that — crazy people used to live right at the edge of the cliff.  The water is so clear, so stunning.  I’d really rather be swimming in it than staring at it from way up here.

Since from here on out I pretty much laid down on the grass and started chanting “don’t move, you’ll fall off and die, don’t move, don’t move, I SAID DON’T MOVE” the family took pity on me and we slowly made our way back down the cliffs to the way out and a gratefully purchased Land Rover ride back to town, where we ate pasties and cream tea and I recuperated.  Visiting Tintagel is one of those bucket-list items I’ve dreamed of much of my life.  It met every expectation, and the remembered terror will keep the experience fresh in my mind forever.  Just like that magpie goose attack at the wildlife park.

From Tintagel, we found our way to the motorway and down to Lands End.

Not an outlet store.

There’s a multitude of tourist death-trap shops and activities at Lands End, but fortunately we arrived late enough in the day that all that was closed and all that was left was the thrilling reconnection with my new best friend, terror of the cliffs.

Frankly, I’m shocked that I made it this close to the edge.  (See the guardrail?  No again?  Yeah, not one here, either.)  The amazingness of the place made it worth the gut wrenching cremnophobia.  But I need to stop looking at this photo.  Right now.

Ah, finally, a guardrail.  Well, a rope, anyway.  Which people have walked over, so they can stand on the cliffs.  Power to them.

This was a stunning day out and we returned to our hotel exhausted.  And I relaxed with the kind of cliff view I prefer:


15 Responses to “Day out: Tintagel and Lands End”

  1. Helen May 19, 2012 at 10:15 am #


  2. caliowin May 19, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I love Tintagel. There is something very magical about that place. It is also exceedingly beautiful. I don’t really like Land’s End, as it’s too touristy and made a little tacky, which is a shame as the scenery is stunning. I much prefer Lizard’s Point, which is the most southerly point of main land Great Britain. It’s national trust, and it’s been kept very natural, so you can just go and soak up the beauty. The whole lizard pennisula is worth a visit- a beautiful part of Cornwall, and lots of those breathtaking cliffs that you have a love hate relationship with. I adore ragged cliffs, though I’m wise enough not to get too close to the edge!

    • Monique May 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      You’re not the first to mention the unspoilt beauty of the lizard peninsula — nothing for it but for us to go back! Only I’d like to try the water when it is a liiiiitle bit warmer than it was the first weekend in May.

      • Tesni May 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

        Not sure the water gets much warmer actually. It’s always freezing.

      • Monique June 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

        Cold water is fine, I just want to be warmer on the beach. Like that great weather we were having, up until this weekend …

  3. Zazzy May 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Really lovely photos! It sounds like another exciting trip. You reminded me of the last time I was in Yellowstone. They were doing road construction and we had to drive around this death cliff with no guardrails – for possibly hours. I don’t know, I was busy screaming. I never realized how scared I was of cliffs until then.

    • Monique May 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      Ha ha, I laughed out loud for real, reading your comment! The American west has some truly time-to-change-the-pants-scary mountain roads. But worth it — after.

  4. Selena May 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I was so excited to see your post! We are going to Cornwall next weekend and Tintagel and Land’s End are on our list. I am so terrified of heights, so I’m glad I was warned. My hubby and daughter think it’s cute to tease me about it. I will be having a very serious discussion about not scaring me and making it worse. It looks beautiful and I can’t wait! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Monique May 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

      Don’t let me scare you about the cliffs! If I hadn’t been so anxious about my adventurous youngsters, it might have been easier. Your daughter won’t try to jump off the cliff, lol. Enjoy, you’re going to have a beautiful weekend!

  5. satnavandcider May 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    What a wonderful post! I so want to go and now wonder if I regret booking Dorset. We shall see… Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and your death-defying adventures. And I especially love the happy ending.

    • Monique May 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

      You’ll find something equally amazing in Dorset – I’ll look forward to seeing it on your blog. Gorgeous weather we’re having, what a great time for a holiday!


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