Visiting Tintagel Castle’s New Bridge

posted in: Cornish Heritage Safaris | 0

Tintagel Castle has a new bridge and if you are planning a visit to Tintagel Castle I can provide a private tour for you. Perhaps you have heard about the legends of King Arthur here. Or maybe you heard about the bridge and want to experience the thrill of crossing into Dark Age history, via a very modern construction.

Access to Tintagel Castle has been improved by the new bridge. But do expect steps once you cross over to the island. The ground is uneven in places at the castle and wet surfaces are sometimes slippery. From Tintagel village a sloping pathway leads to the main castle entry point, on the ‘mainland’ side. From this point the new bridge has made getting across and around the rest of the castle much easier for many people.

Booking Advance Tickets for Tintagel Castle and the New Bridge

The new bridge at Tintagel Castle opened for the summer of 2019 and has proven extremely popular. So much so, that it is worth booking advance tickets. But if you are taking a tour with me, I can organise all of this for you. Don’t forget that English Heritage members can visit Tintagel Castle and all the other English Heritage sites for free. It’s well worth joining English Heritage and joining the National Trust. Both organisations are charities which carry out vital work and your membership supports this.

The New Bridge and the Old Rock

The castle at Tintagel dates to the 13th Century. Although it is now in ruins, Tintagel Castle was once a formidable and impressive structure. When Earl Richard decided to build a high status residence at Tintagel, he probably wanted to connect his royal family to the story of King Arthur; and to show the locals how powerful he was. We believe the castle was constructed to impress rather than withstand attack. It may have been lime-washed white on the exterior. This would have looked pretty impressive to the medieval inhabitants of the area; and with an added bonus of perhaps disguising small pieces of local slate which formed the construction.

In Earl Richard’s time the main two parts of the castle were linked by a narrow neck of rock. But within around 100 years, parts of the castle had fallen into the sea. Also, the connecting neck of rock was already eroding. We know by 1540 there were trees laid across the gap between the ‘mainland’ and the ‘island’ parts of the castle. The North Coast of Cornwall has some exciting geological features, including undersea volcanoes, fault lines and folds in the rock. And so it’s likely that the geology and the weather all played a part in the demise of the natural bridge.

A view of the slate-walkway across Tintagel Castle bridge
The bridge at Tintagel joins two parts of the castle and the Tintagel mainland to the ‘island’.

Tintagel Castle’s Bridge Design

Tintagel Castle’s new bridge is designed to inspire. So look for reminders of the sword Excalibur in the construction design and treasure the moment when you cross over the gap in the middle. It’s a transition from the modern world to the old, and you can see through a gap in the slate-walkway right down to the waves crashing below. There are amazing views and a feeling that you are glimpsing how things were years before.

The slate-walkway is another design feature and individual slates are laid on their edge, in the style of Tudor-dated flooring which is found in this area. The bridge architects really thought everything through. Beware that the new bridge at Tintagel Castle also has a slight bounce! It’s supposed to – so don’t worry.

The Dark Age Connection

When you take a tour of Tintagel Castle with me, do expect a little bit of magic. We will be looking for clues among the ruins! King Arthur’s legend continues to haunt the site and there are real signs of him for those who look carefully. Because the castle is so busy during the summer we could choose a late entry slot and do the King Arthur tour backwards. After all Merlin lived his whole life this way!