Tintagel and Bossiney Circular Walk
- Distance:6 miles/10 km
- Walk grade:Easy-Moderate
- Start from:Trewarmett
- Recommended footwear:walking shoes or trainers in dry weather
- Sandy beach at Bossiney Haven and Benoath Cove
- Views over the Tintagel coastline from the headlands of Willapark and Barras Nose
- Views over Tintagel Castle from Barras Nose
- Tintagel Old Post Office and King Arthur's Great Halls
- Views over Tintagel from Trewarmett Downs
- From Park Farm turn left on the road towards Tintagel.
- Turn right up the lane (which locals call Menadue since it goes to Menadue Mill and Farm) signposted to Trenale to the left of the post box opposite Park Farm.
Menadue is the name of a farm and mill on the downs above Trewarmett. The place name Menadue is possibly from the Cornish word meneth which means hill, and due is the word for black, i.e. "Black Hill". The hill in this case is the one that overlooks Tintagel with Condolden Barrow at the summit.
- Walk straight along the lane passing by Tregeath Lane and Trenale Lane on your left. There are nice views over Tintagel all the way along the lane. In May the hedgerows along the lane are often pink with campion.
In much of Cornwall, many of the place names are based on words from the Celtic language. The following prefixes are common:
- Tre - settlement or homestead
- Lan - originally monastery but later used for an enclosure or church (this has been replaced with "St" in a number of cases)
- Nans - valley (occasionally corrupted to "Lan" e.g. Lanteglos)
- Pen - hill or headland
- Pol - pond, lake or well, also cove or creek
- Fenter - spring
- Cross over the crossroads passing a wayside cross on your right.
There are said to be 360 wayside crosses in Cornwall. In the mediaeval period, stone crosses were sometimes placed by the road or path. There have been various reasons for erecting these: markers placed along routes used by Christian pilgrims, or as a shrine in reverence, perhaps to a saint who has some connection to the locality. Others mark burial sites, a disaster, a miracle, or some other event that should be remembered. In some cases, they were erected to mark meeting places for Christian worship and later churches were built adjacent to the cross, resulting in the cross being within the churchyard or close by.
- Take the second public footpath to the left (just before you reach the houses) following the stiles marked with cream discs across fields the stream.
- Cross the stream and follow the track to the left, cutting in front of a house to come out on the main road opposite the Ocean Cove caravan park in Bossiney.
You might want to take a moment to explore the chapel and Bossiney Mound: to do so, turn left and follow the road through Bossiney, a little further towards Tintagel. Both the chapel and mound will be on your left side.
Bossiney is a village on the north coast of Cornwall, now adjoined to the larger village of Tintagel which lies the the south-west. Only a large mound, next to the chapel, remains as evidence of the twelfth century castle at Bossiney. Almost certainly, the castle was built by Reginald, the illegitimate son of Henry I of England who made him Earl of Cornwall. According to legend, The Round Table of Camelot is supposed to be buried under the ruins of the Castle and on the eve of the summer solstice, the Round Table will appear when King Arthur and his knights are due to return.
Bossiney was one of a number of small parliamentary boroughs established in Cornwall during the Tudor period. Sir Francis Drake was elected MP for Bossiney in 1584 after giving his election speech from Bossiney Mound. War broke out with the Spanish in 1585 and his attention turned to their Armada.
- Cross the road to the triangular parking area next to the transmitter aeriel from which the footpath goes to Bossiney Haven.
- Walk down the footpath to Bossiney Haven. Half way down to the beach you cross the coast path.
Bossiney Haven is a secluded cove, just north of Tintagel. There is no beach at Bossiney at high tide, but when the tide is fully out, there is a beach of golden sand which stretches around the other side of the headland (known as Benoath Cove) from the main inlet (Bossiney Haven). This makes it a lovely place to swim or paddle on a warm summer's day. There is also good snorkelling to the far left of the beach where a kelp-covered reef lies, and also to the far right when the tide is right out. The beach is not patrolled by lifeguards and combined with the steep steps down, it's not ideal for young children.
- From the waymark, the route continues in the direction signposted to Tintagel. Beforehand, you can take a short diversion down the gulley to the beach. To continue the walk, climb the steps to the kissing gate and follow the path on the other side, down the steps to the footbridge.
- From the footbridge, follow the coast path to climb up the next headland until you reach a V-shaped stile.
The rock at the end of the headland is known as Lye Rock.
Lye Rock, facing into the bay at Bossiney is barely attached to the headland of Willapark and will soon (in geological terms anyway!) become another rock stack like The Sisters. It has a seabird colony that once housed the biggest Puffin colony in Cornwall. In 1948 there were estimated to be 2000 puffins here. By 1982 there were none. There is still a sizeable guillemot and razorbill colony and some cormerants too.
- Continue to the top of the steps then bear left to stay on the coast path, following it to a waymark beside a bench.
On December 20 in 1893, the Italian ship "Iota" was driven against the cliff at Lye Rock near Bossiney Haven. The crew were able to get onto the rock and, apart from a youth of 14, were saved by four local men who received medals for bravery. The boy who died is buried in the churchyard of St Materiana on Glebe Cliff, and his grave marked with a wooden cross.
- At the bench, the walk route continues to the left in the direction signposted to Tintagel and the path to the right leads onto Willapark headland, which you may want to explore first. To continue the walk, bear left through the gateway and follow the coast path to a kissing gate.
The large headland in Tintagel to the east of Barras Nose is known as Willapark, not to be confused with Willapark in Boscastle where the coastguard lookout is based. The name Willapark is based on two old Celtic words meaning 'enclosed' and 'lookout'. The headland was fortified by an earth rampart across the neck of the headland to create a hill fort in the Iron Age. When the gorse was burnt off, circular marks became visible indicating the positions of huts. Much of the ramparts were removed or adapted to allow quarrying from the headland, so relatively little remains now.
- Go through the gate and the keep right along the coast path. Follow it past a number of waymarks until you eventually reach a a pair of pedestrian gates.
The Sisters are two small islets that were once part of the headland of Willapark on the opposite side of the bay from Tintagel Castle. Underwater, they are still linked: the protruding islets are surrounded by a large shallow reef with a depth of less than 2 metres around the rocks. The Sisters are home to a large breeding colony of razorbills and guillimots and also have a sizeable population of cormerants.
- Go through the rightmost gate (ahead) and follow the coast path until you reach a waymark to Glebe Cliff.
The rocky headland on the right is Barras Nose.
Barras Nose is a rocky headland located just east of Tintagel Castle and its island, to the north of the village of Tintagel. This was the first piece of coastal land ever bought by the National Trust in 1897. In Victorian times, the Castle Hotel was originally planned to be built on Barras Nose which gave rise to a local campaign to purchase the headland and save it. It's a popular spot with locals for fishing as there is a rock platform and several surrounding reefs. From the top of the headland there are excellent views to the right, across to Willapark, and to the left, of the castle.
A rocky scarp runs nearly all the way across the neck of Barras Nose, forming a natural defence similar to those that were created by hard labour at the cliff castles on surrounding headlands. It's therefore quite possible that Barras was adopted as a "prefabricated" hillfort and flint tools have been discovered which show there was human activity here from at least 4,000 years ago. The name itself may also hint at its history: in the 1890s, it was known as "Barrows Cliff".
- At the waymark, turn right in the direction signposted to Tintagel and follow the path to a kissing gate.
Kestrels are the most common bird of prey in Europe, although in Britain, numbers have declined in recent years. They are easily spotted when hovering, watching their prey. Whilst hovering, they have the extraordinary ability to keep their head totally still, even in strong winds. They feed mostly on mice, voles and shrews, but will also take birds as large as starlings, and will feed on insects if larger prey are not available.
- Go through the gate and cross the stream. Then follow the path up the hill on the other side to another gate.
- Go through the gate and follow the path uphill until you eventually emerge onto the road next to Camelot Castle Hotel.
Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel was formerly named King Arthur's Castle Hotel and is referred to by locals as simply Castle Hotel. The building was designed by Silvanus Trevail, Cornwall's most famous architect, and opened in 1899. Originally it was planned to be built on Barras Nose but after a local campaign with the National Trust to save Barras, it was built on the site formerly known as Firebeacon. The dramatic Victorian building was used for Dr Seward's Asylum in the 1979 film Dracula, starring Laurence Olivier (and the baby thrown out of the window in the film was in fact Dave - our software developer). It also featured in the ITV Comedy Drama, Doc Martin, as the location for Doc Martin's meeting with the Health Board.
- Turn left and follow the road until you reach the entrance to Gavercoombe Park.
- Join the public footpath and follow it along the wall on the right, to rejoin the road. Follow the road into Tintagel past the car park until you reach Pengenna Bakery.
"Pasty" was another word used for "pie" throughout England from the Middle Ages onwards, and did not necessarily imply the characteristic shape and crimping we associate with the Cornish Pasty. The "traditional" Cornish Pasty recipe contains beef, onion, potato and swede (referred to as "turnip" in the local dialect) seasoned with salt and pepper. It's thought this probably dates from the late 1700s when potatoes and turnips were a staple diet for the poor. Even into Victorian times, main meat available to poor people would have been pork. In fact, the really poor had "tiddy oggy" (with no meat at all). A pasty recipe from 1746 contains no potato or swede, just meat (venison), port wine and spices.
- Follow the road around the bend to the left, past the turning to Vicarage Hill to reach Tintagel Old Post Office opposite the King Arthur's Arms.
Tintagel Old Post Office is a 600-year-old Cornish Longhouse set in cottage gardens, retaining its mediaeval slate-paved hall and fireplace. It was built in the 14th Century when Tintagel Castle belonged to the Black Prince. In the 19th century, the house was used as the district Post Office when the introduction of the penny post meant the trek to the Post Office in Camelford became too much of a burden. For over 100 years, it has been owned by the National Trust.
- From the Old Post Office, walk further up the Fore Street until you reach the roundabout.
Just before the roundabout and King Arthur's Hall, look on your left for Aelnet's Cross, which is behind the railings in front of some flats.
Aelnet's Cross is located on Fore Street in Tintagel next to King Arthur's Great Halls, behind the railings of what used to be the Wharncliffe Arms Hotel (now converted into flats). It is just over 4 feet tall and has a sort of wheel-head cross on both sides along with Latin inscriptions. The cross itself is of the 5th-century, though the carvings and inscriptions could be later (possibly 10th or 11th century). Originally it stood at nearby Trevillet where it was in use as a gatepost.
- Cross straight over the roundabout and follow Bossiney Road past the Methodist Church to the Tintagel Visitor Centre.
King Arthur's Great Halls in Tintagel were built in the 1930's by a custard millionaire whose company is thought to have invented "hundreds and thousands". The Halls of Chivalry are built from 53 different types of stone and are big enough to hold 1000 people. 72 stained glass windows by Veronica Whall (a pupil of William Morris) tell the story of King Arthur and show the Coats of Arms and weapons of the knights. Over two million people have visited the Halls since they opened in June 1933.
- Keep walking up Fore Street, passing the village hall and Fosters Lane until you reach the Catholic church on the right.
- Turn right at Catholic church towards Trenale.
- Walk up the road to Trenale until you reach a junction which brings you back onto Menadue Lane.
- Turn right and walk down the lane into Trewarmett with views over Tintagel to your right.