Cornwall Life visits Tintagel, Boscastle & Delabole
PUBLISHED: 12:53 26 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 20 February 2013
The beautiful coastal communities of Tintagel and Boscastle are associated with legend and mystery. In this October issue Cornwall Life visits these enchanting places, passing through Delabole along the way
The beautiful coastal communities of Tintagel and Boscastle are associated with legend and mystery. Bernard Cole visits these enchanting places, passing through Delabole along the way
Set among the crags and cliffs of the wild north Cornish coast are the neighbouring communities of Tintagel and Boscastle. Think of Tintagel and the words 'King Arthur' spring to mind, while Boscastle is known for its picturesque beauty, its harbour and steep narrow streets.
With a culture shaped by a long history of farming, fishing and the quarrying of local stone, Tintagel, the larger of the towns, is now one of Cornwall's top visitor destinations. The legend of King Arthur, the ruined castle sitting on the cliffs, Merlin's Cave and a host of folklore-related myths, tales and stories may have secured the town's popularity but its enchanting beauty and the brooding mystery of the surrounding countryside makes it popular with tourists.
The town's origins and the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have occupied scholarly minds for centuries. Did Arthur really exist, was he born in the castle and did he die at the battle of Camlann near Slaughterbridge just a few miles away? Who knows? The only real certainty is that work on the castle started in 1233 and archaeological evidence shows that a settlement existed on the site much earlier. For an 'Arthurian' experience, spend an hour or so in Tintagel's King Arthur's Great Halls. The imposing building on the main street gives a good account of Arthur's story and that of the 'Round Table'.
Just five miles away from Tintagel, Boscastle is holding its 2009 Food and Arts Festival on 3-4 October. It attracts the region's best-known food producers and growers and hosts demonstrations and master classes from talented chefs as well as numerous arts and crafts stalls. Other highlights in the town include its beautiful medieval harbour and the Museum of Witchcraft.
At first glance, this part of Cornwall may appear a little off the beaten track. But don't be fooled. Both communities are well served by local bus services and the main A39 'Atlantic Highway' running up the coast towards Bude and west to Wadebridge and beyond passes within five miles. National Express coaches travelling east and west pass through Bodmin around 18 miles away and the nearest mainline rail station with regular services from Penzance to London is at Bodmin Parkway. Public transport is not so frequent during the winter months, but if you fancy jetting away to the sun, Newquay airport is a little closer than Plymouth.
Shopping and eating out
Everyday shopping can be bought in both towns from small independent retailers. There's a wider choice in Tintagel, but for a smaller community, Boscastle has some excellent shops close to the village-centre car park. Both towns have small post offices but if you're looking for a supermarket, bank or building society then the nearest will involve a trip to Camelford. If you want to eat out, there's a good selection of restaurants, cafs, bistros and pubs catering for all tastes, both in the towns and at the main visitor attractions. On sunny days the pavement terraces are packed with holidaymakers enjoying their food in the happy, relaxed and informal settings that the two communities seem effortlessly to promote.
Do visit Delabole
On the approach to Tintagel, Delabole has earned its place in history as the country's oldest working slate quarry, having produced slate continuously for more than 500 years. It used to be the deepest man-made pit in the world. Over the centuries Delabole slate became famous around the globe for its quality and quantity. Slate is still extracted from the site but the advent of man-made products and slate from other parts of the world has resulted in a much smaller industry. Today, the town has a thriving community and is credited as the birthplace of the Cornwall Air Ambulance.
For further information contact Tintagel's Visitor Centre on 01840 779084 and Boscastle's Visitor Centre on 01840 250010.