Sun on Saturday: Barras Nose, lashings of ginger beer and Tintagel Castle

So today I'm sharing the final part of our visit to Tintagel Castle; last week I left it as we paused briefly to look at Tintagel Haven and set about finding the perfect lunch spot on the National Trust's Barras Nose.  And Tintagel Haven - or should that be heaven - it's not a bad view is it?

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Tintagel Haven is infact the small sand, shingle and stony beach you can see in the photo (and at high tide there's no beach) but it's better known for a spectacular cave, known as Merlin's Cave which provides the only access to the small and stony Westside Cove the other side of the headland. While we'd have loved to check it out, we were heading upwards to check out the views from Barras Nose, which was the first English Coastal acquisition by the Trust in 1897. 

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Barras Nose National Trust

It wasn't long before we spotted this stone with the inscription and spent some time twisting our heads round to read it and determine where it should start and end!

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Well actually some of that head twisting to read the quote was a cunning plan to pause and take in the moment for a bit. Shortly though we were off again and found the perfect place to stop and eat the picnic we'd brought with us.

And it was here that I realised I'd made the wrong choice. I totally should have packed cans of ginger beer and not cloudy lemonade in our picnic! It really was a "lashings of ginger beer" kind of place and I'm pretty sure Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Timmy the dog had some adventures at Tintagel at some point. I just wish I'd remembered that before we were there!

Ah well a picnic with this as our view wasn't so bad after all, despite the wrong kind of fizzy drink...

LOOKING BACK AT TINTAGEL CASTLE

LOOKING BACK AT TINTAGEL CASTLE

But the more we looked, the more we saw - and then we realised we'd missed out on a trip to the lower part of the castle. We'd clearly missed the signs to get down there and peer through that hole in the castle walls you can see in the photo above. That was disappointing and most likely as a result of not having a site guide, and we briefly considered going back to visit this spot.

But then we remembered it was at least 148 steps up, then the steps down there and all that in reverse and we still hadn't explored the Medieval section of the Castle on the mainland, which also had some steep steps up to it. Yes we it was only briefly considered!  However we consoled ourselves with the fact that our lunch spot provided a view of it that many people visiting the castle that day weren't getting!

Cornish coastal views at Tintagel

While we were on Barras Nose we had a wander around after we'd demolished lunch - there's a route for a one mile walk on the National Trust website, but it's just as easy to follow your nose (around Barras Nose!) It too had some stunning views, just look:

Barras Nose in Cornwall
Cornish coastal views at Tintagel
Cornish coastal views at Tintagel

Full from lunch and of the views, we headed back over to Tintagel Castle. This time though we didn't cross the bridge we turned left just past the ticket point and headed up these stairs. And they are as steep as they look - I'm not ashamed to admit I had a couple of pauses along the way and not just because I wanted to admire the view!

Tintagel Castle and more steps

These took us up to the section of the castle on the mainland - and the advice we got on arrival was spot on. That was to start on the headland and leave the mainland section until after as there's a path from there leading back to the village. What they didn't tell us though was that that path means no steps down again (well maybe a few, but not like the way up!). And that advice also meant avoiding a trip around the shop on exit, always a plus!

As with other parts of the castle there were stunning views every way you looked!

Medieval section of Tintagel Castle
Medieval section of Tintagel Castle
My friend the seagull at Tintagel Castle

I tell you the seagulls in Cornwall are very photogenic - and no chips in sight for these ones either.

Medieval courtyard at Tintagel Castle

Parts of the castle have sadly slipped into the sea, but as you can see from the pictures it is right on the edge and it's surprising that more hasn't been lost. Huge buttresses prevent the rest of the Grand Hall from sliding into the sea, and it shows just how important the work of English Heritage and the National Trust are in preserving our history.

A window to the Cornish coast
THIS REALLY IS CORNWALL

THIS REALLY IS CORNWALL

We had a great time during our visit, the scenery and vistas were amazing - we were lucky of course that the weather was so good, I imagine we might not have had quite such a magical time in the wind and rain! And if I'm honest, the day was better than I expected it to be - this was one of MOH's choices and somewhere he'd visited as a child so he was keen to see it again.

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And after an inspiring day we took the relatively step free path back towards the village, and the pub and instead of the ginger variety we opted for a pint of the local brew and people watched while we got our breath back! Then it was onto the Old Post Office at Tintagel, which I must dig out the pictures from and share with you too.

Sun on Saturday: Tintagel Castle and 148 steps for starters...

It was last September that we were in Cornwall - I'm not sure how it can be quite that long ago already but either way it's about time I shared the pictures of our visit to Tintagel Castle with you. Looking back at them this week, it was quite a day and there's a few to choose from and I've a feeling it'll take more than one photo-heavy post to tell you more about the place which is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur...

The site of the castle has been inhabited since between the 5th and 7th centuries AD when a prosperous community was based there but it wasn't until later in the 12th century that it gained international literary fame and named by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the place where the legendary King Arthur was conceived.

English Heritage, who maintain the site think this "may have been what inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, to site his castle at Tintagel in the 1230s. The castle had fallen into disrepair by 1330, but its associations with the Arthurian legend have helped to foster the site’s continuing international renown." 

Despite the disrepair, the ruins provide some stunning views and an insight into what life in a castle might be like. Sadly on our visit there were no maps of the site available as English Heritage "had run out" so we wandered around slightly in the dark, making do with the signage available. We were though offered the chance to buy a full guide at the full price, which we declined and if I'm honest I was a little disappointed by this and by the lack of foresight to provide some basic information - for me, a photocopy of the layout would have helped put things into context and helped us plan our visit. It's probably the only time I'll visit Tintagel Castle and it's the first English Heritage site I've visited, and as they say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

But map aside, you can see we had fabulous weather and the castle and the scenery were fantastic.

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We started by exploring the castle on the headland - there's 148 steps up from the bridge to the wooden door - at the top we paused and looked over to the part of the castle on the mainland, and the steps up to that, and decided that was probably on the "after lunch" exploring list!

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There's spectacular views along the Cornish coast too, and as seemed to be the case for this trip I quickly found a seagull that was happy to pose for a picture or two!

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It wasn't long before we found The Tunnel and although little is known about it, including its date, it is known that it was cut using metal tools and while its purpose is also unknown, it's thought it may have been used as a medieval cold store.

This is the entrance and as we stepped down into it we weren't quite sure what to expect.

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But as you get further into the tunnel, it opens out and you can see all the way through. The workmanship is incredible, but it's a shame that more isn't known about it.

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And once through the tunnel this is your view, inside the temperature was definitely lower but I do wonder if it was intended as a cold store, why it was made as a tunnel rather than a cave...

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Out of the tunnel and we continued to explore the headland admiring the strata of the rock and the views out to sea, the whole place had a special atmosphere which I wasn't expecting, but maybe that King Arthur legend really did have roots here.

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LOOKING ACROSS THE HORIZON

LOOKING ACROSS THE HORIZON

LOOKING DOWN

LOOKING DOWN

LOOKING INLAND

LOOKING INLAND

Once we'd had our fill of the views and been entertained long enough by the seagulls, we decided some lunch was in order - and we saw the perfect spot on the next headland along, and from our vantage point we could make out some paths too.  

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So with a rough plan in place we set off and of course what goes up, must go down. And then down some more!

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With the steps under our belt (for now) we briefly admired the view from Tintagel Haven before setting off in search of the perfect lunch spot. I'm going to leave it there for today and will continue our visit to the mainland part of Tintagel Castle and some views from where we had lunch on the National Trust's Barras Nose next Saturday - hope to see you then!

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My top three travel bucket list destinations

I've a long list of places I want to visit and while I'm doing my best to cross places off, somehow more always seem to sneak onto my list. That's fine by me though as what would life be without an adventure or three?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing
— Helen Keller

The people at Transun are running a competition and the prize is a chance to see the Northern Lights for one lucky winner. Wow. And exactly it'd be rude not to enter wouldn't it?  The Northern Lights are something I want to see - who doesn't? - so winning a trip would be an absolute dream. I've left them off my top three though, because as I said before I've got lots of other places on my list...

1. Kerala, India

We honeymooned in India back in 2007 and did the Golden Triangle of Jaipur, Agra and Dehli along with a trip to Ranthambore, Rajasthan's famous tiger reserve, where we were lucky enough to spot not one, but two tigers and many other beautiful animals besides. 

During our whole trip all of our senses were assaulted by the joy and colour that is India. And I mean all of our senses - sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. The vibrancy of the outfits, the chaos of a rickshaw ride through Dehli, curry and chilli omelettes for breakfast, and the smoothness of the silks and the sapphires and well, let's leave the smell shall we?

It's somewhere I've wanted to return but so far, it's eluded us. India's such a large country that when (that's a when and not if) we go back we want to see another part of it entirely which brings me to my first destination, South India and in particular Kerala.

For me South India screams of Kerala's lush vegetation and its backwaters and tranquility. It's the simpleness and slowness of life, where traditional ways remain today. And what better place to be to get away from the hubbub of everyday life?

To explore the backwaters by houseboat, to wander through a tea plantation, to see the Uru wooden boats, to see the traditional fishing nets and to taste the Southern Indian cuisine of dosa, thali and biryani.

Add to that the rice paddies, coconut groves and you can start to understand how India gets under your skin (not literally though I'd hope!) And to once again experience the colour and vibrancy India offers would be amazing. For this trip though I think we'd be braver, and experience more off the well-beaten tourist track, although that probably is already sending shivers up the spines of my parents. 

For all of these reasons that Kerala just has to be on my list, there's more of India's charms on my Pinterest board.

FROM OUR HONEYMOON IN 2007

FROM OUR HONEYMOON IN 2007

2. Peru

My second destination is somewhere I initially thought was completely different to Kerala but there's similarities too: colour, vibrancy and tradition.

So you may wonder why I'm including this on my travel bucket list as well - well, apart from it being somewhere I'd love to go but it's the chance to explore Machu Picchu first-hand that gives Peru it's place on my list. 

The "lost" city of the incas can scarcely be imagined, although it was advanced it remained primitive - no invention of the wheel and no way of writing its language, Quechua.

For me that makes it somewhere to explore first hand - surely that's in keeping with its history? And imagine the photos I'd take, I think this trip would seriously go into the thousands and by far surpass the hundreds of photos I usually take!

Also I'd have to include a tour of the capital city Lima, as it fascinates me where worlds collide; the rich and the less privileged, the sky scrapers of the business district and the beach. 

There's also Lima's historic city centre which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and as I understand has its own up and coming foodie scene. Did you know that the country famously yields 3000 varieties of potato? As well as potato I'd expect fresh fruits like papaya and pomegranate and I'd hope for some dry-aged beef too! 

And as well as all of that, it'd be great to visit Peru and see if we could uncover more of Paddington Bear's heritage! For more Peru-based inspiration see my Peru Pinterest board.

3. Italian Lakes

My third destination is somewhere a bit closer to home. Well Europe anyway - it's a place we almost made it too once, but the choice of which lake to choose became too much so the planning for that trip was abandoned for something which at the time seemed less complicated and fit into the timescale we had available.

Ideally I'd like to visit each of the lakes and we'd stay in a fine villa or apartment overlooking a lake. We'd have a car to help us see as much of the area as we could, but we'd also do plenty of walks so we could take a break (or two) of the fresh mountain air. The walks would also help ensure the delicious Italian fare didn't attach itself too firmly to our waistlines!

This is likely to be a relatively long trip for somewhere that I've said is closer to home, but that's because I don't want to rush it and make it a flying visit. That's what scuppered my previous plans - there wasn't enough time available then to do it justice.

We'd also make time to take a boat trip on the lakes, and that I'm sure would bring a different dimension to our trip. Not only because I'm not the biggest fan of boats - but in a place like this, it's definitely something I'd have to do. When in Rome and all that, or in this case the Italian Lakes at least! And maybe we'd even spot Mr and Mrs Clooney...

But there's no doubt what the highlight of my trip would be and that would be the time (I'm not limiting myself to a single day for this) we'd spend exploring Isola Bella, literally the beautiful island and its Italianate garden. 

 For more views of the Italian Lakes and their surroundings take a look at my Italian Lakes Pinterest board.

MY TOP 3 DESTINATIONS: KERALA, PERU & THE ITALIAN LAKES

MY TOP 3 DESTINATIONS: KERALA, PERU & THE ITALIAN LAKES

So that's my top three travel bucket list. Have you been to any of these places, do you have any tips for me? Or let me know where your dream destination is, and how close you've got to booking a trip there. And wish me luck in the competition, as I'm sure there's a Northern Light trip out there somewhere with my name on it!