Saturday, 17 August 2013


Today was a day of contrasts wonderful views, extremely steep hills, the power of water, muddy paths, ancient castle, kilometres of walking tracks and ancient carvings it is hard to realise all that we experienced and explored a great day of balance I guess. It all started with rain which cleared and offered a wonderful day to explore. We started by driving to Tintagel and finding our way to Rocky Valley where we walked along pathways leading to the old Trevillett Mill behind which amazing labyrinth carvings can be seen then onwards to the cliffs on the ocean front.

The valley is reached by way of Trevillett Mill, now a trout hatchery. The carvings are situated on a smooth outcrop of relatively soft shale, and sit beside a small stream that leads directly to the sea. The stream provided the power for the 18th century Trewethett Mill, which stands between the carved rock face and the water. The valley is steep and has many similar outcrops, though none with such a sheltered face as that on which the carvings are found. The line of the incision is very fine, and both labyrinths appear to have been carved with a similar tool, if not the same one - most likely iron or steel rather than another stone. Also, the condition of the carvings is very good when it is considered that the surface has been exposed to running water and root action for many years. The shale that they are carved into is soft and tends to split when weathered. The two small labyrinth petroglyphs, have never been securely allocated to a particular period. These finely executed examples of the classical labyrinth motif have been commented on, but never seriously studied by academics, since the official announcement of their discovery in the pages of "The Illustrated London News" of 1954. More recently they have found dubious fame among members of the "New Age" movement, and other mystically inclined writers. The carvings were actually found in 1948 by a local man, Mr. S. J. Madge, who wrote a guidebook on the area. Madge notes "Two mysterious, symbolic, ring-marked carvings (seen by the writer in September 1948 and 49) are on the rock at the back of the mill. As they were covered by vegetation they had escaped notice previously."

Old Trevillett Mill

Early bronze age 1800 - 1400BC

This wonderful quartz was sitting on the side of the brook
We then drove on to see St Nectans Glen and Waterfall. This sacred site at Saint Nectan’s Glen where the River Trevillet has carved its way through Late Devonian slate and created a magnificent 60 foot (approx.) waterfall and then punched a hole through the original kieve (basin) where the water now cascades into a beautiful valley. St Nectans Glen is an area of outstanding natural beauty. We walked to the waterfall and hermitage through an ancient woodland with ivy clad trees along the banks of the River Trevillet as it sparkled and gurgled busily on it’s journey to the sea. You are then rewarded for your walk by natures embrace showing her magnificence at it's very best. Saint Nectan’s Kieve is to some a sacred place, and numerous ribbons, crystals, photographs, inscriptions, prayers and other devotions now adorn the foliage and rock walls near the waterfall. St Nectans Glen is a place where animals and birds play amid a mysticism of fairies, piskies and spirits, serenaded by the wonderful sound of bird song. The area has been appointed a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to rare specimens of plants.

Just near the carpark was St Pirans Well, this building may not be ancient, however photographs of the holy well show that there has been a well here for centuries.

At the tea rooms there is a special meditation room full of goddess figurines, crystals and special momentos

Just down the road we found King Arthur's Quoit - this large stone has no factual history, however local legend tell us that it was thrown by King Arthur from Tintagel Island.

Back to the township of Tintagel and we then set out on quite an incredible walk down to the coast to obtain tickets then up onto the top of cliffs to see the ruins of the castle before walking down to the beach to walk through Merlin's Cave then back up to the car.

Tintagel castle (also known as "King Arthur's Castle") is perched on an island which was joined by a land bridge in the middle ages. The ruins that you see today were built in the 13th century by Richard Earl of Cornwall, though from coins and pottery fragments found at the site it is thought that before this the site might have originally been a Roman settlement and later in the early middle ages a Celtic settlement. There is speculation amongst historians that the site was a Summer residence for one of the Celtic kings, perhaps leading to the legends of Arthur. 

Below the the island upon which Tintagel Castle is perched, there is a small sheltered pebble beach, known locally as Castle Beach, although on maps you'll see it marked as Tintagel Haven. On the beach is Merlin's Cave which can only be accessed at low tide. It is thought that King Arthur lived here at some time. Slate from the coastal quarries was brought here by donkey and loaded onto beached ships. In order to manoeuvre them around the dangerous rocks, ships were "hobbled" (towed by rowing boats then manoeuvred  by gangs of men pulling on ropes). To the back of the beach is a waterfall where the stream running through the Vale of Avalon meets the sea.

Island Courtyard and Great Hall

19th Century Gateway and wall

The upper and lower mainland courtyards

St Materiana church an Anglican church stands on the cliffs between Trevena and Tintagel Castle and is listed Grade I. The first church on the site was probably in the 6th century, founded as a daughter church of Minster: these are the only churches dedicated to the saint, though she is usually identified with Madryn, Princess of Gwent. The church is dedicated to the mother goddess. The first church on the site was thought to be in the 6th century, founded as a daughter church of Minster in Boscastle which is even older. The current church was built on Glebe Cliff at Tintagel in the late 11th or early 12th century with the tower added in the late Mediaeval era. 

St Materiana Church

Showing the bridge joining the island to the mainland where the original bridge would have been

Island Great Hall

Entrance to Merlin's Cave

In actual fact this is a tunnel not a cave with another opening to the ocean 

Looking back to the beach (Haven)

A good view of the bridge

Castle Beach / Tintagel Haven

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