I left Baa in a carpark in the middle of Tintagel and set off to see the sites. There is a charming Old Post Office dating back to late 1300s which is owned by the National Trust. It was a Medieval hall house, and then a post office in Victorian times, with low ceilings and narrow stairs, and furniture and chattels dating back to the 16thC. I'm glad I went early because when I walked past a couple of hours later there were Japanese tourists queuing round the block.
I walked a little way out of the village to St Materiana, the parish church of Tintagel, dating back to 1080, though there was something even older there before. It's Grade I listed and utterly beautiful, sitting close to the coast, and another short coastal walk from the medieval Castle, said to be home to King Arthur. Merlin, his mentor, is supposed to have lived in a cave on the beach below. It is a is a real meeting of history and myth - the site of the castle goes back to Roman times, and no one really knows the truth about King Arthur .. or if he was born there.
It's a fascinating place, with different courtyards spreading
across part of the mainland, and all over a little island which is
reached by a bridge.
When I got back to the village I stopped to eat a pasty for lunch in the sun with my newspaper. The most surreal thing happened... I was reading an article by Janet Street-Porter as I was biting into my pasty, (I quote..) “Last weekend in Cornwall, I stopped at a deli in Tintagel to eat a pasty, and gawped at the procession of fatties, waddling along the main street licking ice creams and gobbling chips...” It was the start of a diatribe about obesity in this country... and she had a point, most people who passed by were overweight, and most of them were eating! I ordered an ice cream and left...
After all the crowds in Tintagel I couldn't bring myself to face more people in Port Isaac. It's a no-car village and I would've like to see where Doc Martin treats the sick, but I decided to move on.
Just along the coast is the charming narrow bay of Port Quin, and I wish I had been organised enough to walk there from Port Isaac... it's only 2 or 3 miles along the cliff path, but there's always the problem of getting back to the van. I sat on the small narrow beach, the tide was out and a couple of people were swimming, and talked to a nice woman from Wadebridge who had moved down from Tunbridge Wells.
Sadly it was a closed day at Prideaux Place a beautiful 17thC house just outside Padstow which I have put on my 'next time' list. It is where a lot of Rosamunde Pilcher's stories have been filmed and, as she is immensely popular in Germany, that's probably another reason why this stretch of coast is so popular with Germans. There are any number of wonderful places to eat in Padstow and it has great charm, sitting on the side of the Camel estuary. It is also home to the National Lobster Hatchery which was also shut when I got there – it was after 6.30pm, that's why. I got poor Baa wedged in a parking space and, after the unfortunate Bude incident, took ages to get her out.