Merry Maidens

When you think of stone circles in Great Britain what comes to mind? Stonehenge? The stone circle in Outlander? There are other stone circles you can see in England and Scotland.

The truth is there are many stone circles in Great Britain. It is said there are 316 stone circles in England, 508 in Scotland, and 81 in Wales.

Merry Maidens

Within the county of Cornwall in England there are 17 stone circles and this includes the Merry Maidens. Merry Maidens is made up of 19 granite stones. The circle is a diameter of 75 feet (24m). It is in a perfect circle with each stone about 3-4 meters apart. The tallest is 1.4 meters. The stones gradually diminish in size from SW to NE. This is believed to follow the cycle of the moon.

Tales Behind the Stones

The Cornish legend behind the monument is the stone circle was the petrified remains of a group of local girls who had been turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. Further away in neighboring fields are three other stones. One is said to have been a fiddler and the two others were pipers. The story is they are further away because they heard the church bells ringing out at midnight and they attempted to flee because they realized they were breaking religious rules. They were caught as well and were turned to stone. This story was most likely started to turn people to the church and away from pagan practices.

Location

The stones are in a field next to the B3315 in the parish of St. Buryan in the West Penwith area. It has a small car park that can fit 4-5 cars.

If you are traveling to Cornwall and would like to see a stone circle up close and personal without the crowds of Stonehenge, then stop by this ancient group of stones. You will get to see something that could be over 3500 years old.

Milky Way Over St. Michael’s Mount

Are there some places you would like to go to or things you would like to do, but haven’t because you want to do them with another adventurous person? One such experience I tried this summer was getting a photo of the Milky Way over St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, England.

St. Michael’s Mount at low tide.

St. Michael’s Mount is an island that can be reached at low tide by foot. There is a castle and medieval church on the island. The site is maintained by the National Trust. During the day time, one can walk over and see some of the rooms inside the castle. At high tide there are boats that can ferry you across. The St. Aubyn family live in the castle.

Tour

I would never never attempted to do this alone, even if I had stayed in Marazion, the Cornish town on the other side of the causeway. Instead I completed a day tour with Photograph West Cornwall. Ken Whalley took me to scenic spots on the Cornish coast by day, then later at night we attempted to get these shots at St. Michael’s Mount. Ken is a outstanding landscape photographer who leads tours in Cornwall in villages south of Port Isaac. He is knowledgeable about the time tables for tides, events in the sky, and weather. He informed me long before I arrived this may be a possibility if the sky cooperated. The added bonus was Ken and his wife treated me like an old friend.

If you are interested in seeing Cornwall south of Port Isaac through the eyes of a landscape photographer, book a tour with Ken Whalley and Photograph West Cornwall.

For more information look here: http://photographwestcornwall.com

To see some of his work, this is the Facebook page for his business: https://www.facebook.com/Photographwestcornwall/?eid=ARDnpqg1FH1Z_9FJl7n9hpMLWiY1rwqqq6cJbdlM_GAms6Yy_R9fC8WNOgHeg07My1ngT6Tow8kFVluQ&timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=100004050793544&fref=tag

Wayside Cross

Wayside (edge of road) crosses are one type of Christian Cross that could be erected in Medieval times (5th-15th century). What do you think was its purpose?

Locations

In England there are over 350 wayside crosses. They are mostly found in Southwest England in Cornwall and on Dartmor. They can also be found on the North Yorkshire Moors. Very few are found elsewhere. Other forms of Wayside crosses can be found in other European countries such as Germany and Ireland.

Function

One function of a wayside cross was to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who traveled past the cross. It was meant to reassure the traveler. In addition, they were way markers. They helped mark the areas that were generally unmarked routes.

Boskenna Cross

This wayside cross is at the junction of B 3315 and Rectory Rd in Cornwall. It is near the Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Cornwall, England. The head of the Boskenna Cross is circular. On one side of the head is a cross. On the opposite side is a figure of Christ with his arms up stretched and his feet pointing outwards. Some other wayside markers in Cornwall are said to have rounded heads with a cross on one side and different carvings on the other side.

This side faces someone property. It has a cross clearly visible on it.
This is the side facing the road. It is said to have a carving of Jesus on it with his arms outstretched. If you able able to see it in person you can barely make it out.

Wayside crosses are unique to Europe and the type found in Cornwall seems to be unique to Cornwall. If you visit Cornwall, see if you can spot one of these ancient monuments that has stood the test of time.

Pub Signs-The Bucket of Blood

The Bucket of Blood Pub in the Hayle area of Cornwall.

Which pub in Cornwall most likely has a name that is not duplicated with any other pub in England? The Bucket of Blood is very unique. It is a pub in Hayle that is said to be haunted and there is an interesting story behind it.

It is said an inn has been on that site for hundreds of years. It had a well from which they drew water for the inn and to brew the beer, a dark ale. Cornwall has been known for its miners, sailors, fishermen and smugglers.

The story is the innkeeper went to draw water, but instead drew blood. Upon search of the well a corpse was found. It is said the identity was unknown.

They say at night footsteps can be heard on creaking floorboards. There have been reports of people seeing ghostly figures crossing the road and then disappearing.

They say during the reign of King George III the name of the Bucket of Blood was changed to the New Inn. That lasted for about 250 years. In the 1980s the owner changed the name back to its original name- the Bucket of Blood.

I asked locals where the well was. They pointed me out to a well across the street and around the corner. However, a person who worked at the pub said there is no longer access to it. It is under what is now the ladies restroom/loo.

This inn serves nice meals. They do not serve puddings/desserts. If you are in the Hayle area make a stop at the Bucket of Blood. Its worth the trip. Ghost sightings are not guaranteed.

Godrevy Lighthouse

Sometimes I like to tick off two boxes at once when I travel. When viewing wildlife it is also nice if the area you go to has a lovely view. If you are like me you may want to visit the area near Godrevy Lighthouse. Not only can you view seals, but you also have gorgeous views as well.

Godrevy Lighthouse is on Godrevy Island in the Atlantic Ocean off Cornwall, England. A stone reef stretches from Godrevy Island towards St. Ives. Many vessels shipwrecked it that area prior to the lighthouse being constructed in the 1850s.

Seal on Godrevy Island taken from the tour boat Little Mermaid.
Seals and Other Wildlife

There are a variety of animals to view in the area. Grey seals are around in the summer, however, the numbers increase in fall, and in winter you may see close to one hundred. The island and area boasts a variety of seabirds including pipits, oystercatchers, gulls, and cormorants. Occasionally a dolphin or basking shark may be viewed.

Seals swimming onto the rock. We were told the darker ones were young ones and the lighter ones were older ones.
Enjoying the sun
Godrevy Island and Lighthouse taken from the Little Mermaid tour boat.
Viewing

There is more than one way you can view the lighthouse. Godrevy Beach is run by the National Trust and they provide parking areas. Another way way you can view it is to board a tour boat from St. Ives. More than one company presently takes people around the island. I took the Little Mermaid from St. Ives and I also viewed the lighthouse from the National Trust property.

Close-up of the lighthouse from the tour boat.
A third way to get to Godrevy? We saw some paddle boarders make their way over to Godrevy. This paddle boarder took his dog. You can see a seal popping his head out of the water on the right. With the rocks around the island I am not sure I would recommend this.
Literary Ties
View of Godrevy Island and Lighthouse from St. Ives

It is said Godrevy Lighthouse was the inspiration for “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. Woolf spent many summers in St. Ives. You can see Godrevy Lighthouse from there.

Filming Location

Godrevy appears to have been used as a filming location or backdrop for TV and film. Blue Juice, a 1995 British surfer film staring Catherine Zeta Jones and Ewan McGregor was shot there. It also appears the lighthouse may have been used as a location for the TV show Doc Martin in series 9 Episode 1. Pictures of a boat in the Hayle area with the characters Doc and PC Penhale aboard appeared online in April 2019. My tour guide, a local, said the rumor was Martin Clunes was flown out by helicopter to the lighthouse island to shoot scenes.

The coast of Cornwall is stunning and you really can’t go wrong visiting its many seaside villages and hotspots. By boat or by land this area is worth a stop.

Cornwall Day Tours

Are you planning to visit Cornwall, England? Would you like to go on a day tour with a knowledgeable local? If so, I highly recommend Cornwall Discovery.

Cornwall Discovery

Barry Pengelly owns and operates Cornwall Discovery. As his surname suggests, he was born and raised in Cornwall. His surname, Pengelly, comes from the Cornish language. According to Barry, Pen means top of the hill. Barry is a Cornish history buff.

Cornwall Discovery can pick you up for your tour anywhere in Cornwall. He drives a very comfortable Land Rover Discovery in which he is licensed to carry up to six passengers. According to Barry, he operates everyday and does his tours all year. Go by yourself or take along your friends.

Tours

Barry has a variety of tours listed on his website or he can cater the tour to what interests you. He can take you to filming locations in Cornwall. One tour he lists covers Doc Martin locations and towns in northern Cornwall. He lives outside of Port Isaac where Doc Martin is filmed. Barry was a driver for the actors on Poldark during filming, so he also is very knowledgeable about Poldark locations. He has one tour that covers Poldark filming locations. Visit his website to check out other tours he offers.

These are some of the mines on the Cornwall Coast used in the filming of the TV show, Poldark. This show aired in the U.S. on PBS.

I went along with Barry for two days. One day included some locations I asked specifically to see related to King Arthur and other locations worth seeing nearby. Another day, I just asked him to take me to some scenic Coastal towns. We went to St Ives, some Poldark locations, and a few other locations south of there along the coast that included the Minack Theatre and Mousehole. I was very happy with the locations he picked. Barry related some interesting historical information along the way. Cornish history is his passion.

St. Ives is one of many beautiful Cornish Coastal Towns. St. Ives is known as a haven for the arts. It has galleries including the Tate St Ives.

Will you be in Cornwall without a car? If you do have a car, would you just rather see all the best spots in Cornwall that only a local could show you? Then contact Barry at Cornwall Discovery.

Follow this link to see what Barry offers: http://www.cornwalldiscovery.co.uk

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.