Tintagel

Are you familiar with the stories The Sword in the Stone or Excalibur? Have you ever read any of the King Arthur stories or watched any of the movies based on King Arthur? According to the legend, King Arthur was conceived in Tintagel. English Heritage is in charge of the Castle Ruins in Tintagel that are worth visiting and this village has a couple of spots that have served as filming locations for the British TV show Doc Martin.

History of Tintagel and the King Arthur Ties

Tintagel was first linked to King Arthur during the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote a medieval history of kings titled The History of the Kings of Britain.

Statue of King Arthur on the top of the island that contains some of the ruins of a castle on the grounds.

Tintagel is known for its castle ruins. The ruins that are visible, were built around 1233 by Richard, first Earl of Cornwall. He was the second son of King John of England and brother to King Henry III of England. They say Richard may have built the castle to show his connections with Arthur and the ancient rulers of Cornwall.

Recent archaeological activity started in 2016. Archaeologists conducted excavations of the grounds and found other significant building ruins beneath that either belonged to a wealthy individual or possibly a ruler. They have over the years discovered pottery, glassware, containers that transported olive oil and wine, and luxury objects from distant places along the Meditteranean dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, evidence that a wealthy person or ruler lived on the site. The time frame also fits into the time frame of the legendary King Arthur. Was King Arthur a real person or a legend?

Tintagel is a tourist town on the coast with souvenir shops, restaurants, accommodations, and it has the castle ruins. If you are driving, there are two car parks providing over 100 spaces on the road leading into the village (Fore Street or B3263). You need to purchase a ticket to enter the castle grounds. You can walk different paths on the grounds including crossing a footbridge over to an island. They are currently constructing a new footbridge and most of the grounds will not reopen until sometime in the summer of 2019. The new footbridge is supposed to make the site more accessible. Previously, when you crossed the foot bridge you had to then climb steep narrow steps until you got to a door. Check English Heritage’s website to see what you can access.

The door you entered at the top of the island. This was after you crossed the footbridge and walked up some steep, narrow steps. The new foot bridge will be completed some time in the summer of 2019.
Doc Martin Filming Locations

The TV Show Doc Martin has filmed at some locations in Tintagel. They have repeatedly used the Camelot Castle Hotel. According to Kate Kennedy, of Portwenn Online, the Camelot Castle Hotel was used in :

Season 1 Martin meeting with the board about getting a job

Season 5 When they went to a hotel looking for Mrs. Tishell

Season 6 Martin and Louisa’s wedding reception

Season 6 Martin and Aunt Ruth’s lunch

Season 7 Martin and Louisa’s dinner

Season 8 Martin’s meeting with the board about his blood phobia

The Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel as seen from the castle ruins.

The Camelot Castle Hotel opened in 1899. In their great hall on the first floor is a replica of the Round Table that hangs in Winchester, England. They have stunning coastal views from some of their rooms and a restaurant on the ground floor.

Another place in Tintagel that has been used as a Doc Martin filming location is the Church of St. Materiana. It is an Anglican Church near the cliffs south of Tintagel Castle. One way you can walk to it is you can follow the South West Coastal Path from Castle Road in Tintagel and follow the path south to the church. Another way is by walking via Vicarage Hill going south from the village. This road does not get a lot of traffic, so it is safe to walk on. This church was used in Season 8 Episode 1, according to Kate Kennedy, for PC Penhale’s wedding. Be careful of going off the footpaths and walking the grounds. There are some signs around warning to be aware off adders. Adders are a poisonous snake. The Church of St. Materiana was used for the outside shots only when they filmed PC Penhale’s wedding. The interior of the church in that episode was St. Endellion close to the village of Port Isaac.

St. Materiana, where PC Penhale’s wedding was to take place.
St. Materiana from another angle

If you are a Doc Martin Fan, check out Kate Kennedy’s website. It has a wealth of information for fans of the show and contains all things Doc Martin. You can access her site at : http://portwennonline.com .

How to Get There From Port Isaac

Tintagel is not far from Port Isaac. The easiest way to get there is to drive or take a taxi. It is officially 6 miles (I guess by how a bird flies), the distance via the coastal path is 9 miles, and by car it’s 10.4 miles. That 10 miles by car can take you more than 20 minutes. If driving, get a good Cornwall road map and stick to major roads. Don’t use Sat Nav/ GPS. GPS will lead you down two-way roads wide enough for one car. It is a strenuous hike on the coastal trail. It is actually labeled a challenging/ severe walk on some sites because the section between Port Isaac and Trebarwith is long and difficult with steep ascents and descents. There is a bus you can catch from Port Isaac to Tintagel, however, it is not direct, you have to switch buses, and it takes over an hour and a half one way. It departs from the Pea Pod in Port Isaac. The buses don’t make many trips per day either.

Whether you are interested in history, the King Arthur legend, or Tintagel’s role as a filming location for Doc Martin, Tintagel is a great spot to visit. It is another Cornish seaside village with stunning views.