Monday, 15 February 2010

Merlin's Cave

From the Admission Gate at Tintagel, a different path leads down the cliff to the shoreline and the sea. At low tide, you can go down to visit Merlin's Cave. Wooden stairs with railings lead down the cliff about three-quarters of the way to the bottom. Then, for no apparent reason that I could see, the stairs simply stop -- just as they reach an immense pile of huge, slippery boulders and rocks. At that point, you must (as best you can) clamber down over this granite obstacle course in order to reach the shore.

Excuse me, but I must pause here and rant. Talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen! Over the years, surely people have slipped and fallen and broken Gawd-knows-what getting over those rocks -- how could they not? Why on earth the stairs do not go all the way to the bottom is beyond me. At a Canadian tourist site, they most certainly would. Plus there would also be an elevator or funicular to transport the elderly or disabled. We believe in accessibility in Canada! And no lawsuits!

Anyway, with the help of other people in our tour group, I made it over the boulders and down to the shore. Kelp littered the beach, which was an interesting sight for those of us not used to the seaside. A lovely waterfall cascaded down the cliff a short distance away:


Across the beach we entered Merlin's Cave which was large and easily accessible. People could stand upright and move about without difficulty. Here's the entrance:


Merlin's Cave is open at both ends. At low tide, there is just a trickle of sea water flowing across the cave's gravelly floor. But at high tide, the North Atlantic comes roaring through! Of course all we saw was sunlight, as shown in this photo:


The walls of the cave have large veins of whitish quartz running through them. Perhaps this was the basis for Mary Stewart's novel about Merlin, called The Crystal Cave, which I read as a teenager. I don't know. But it does make the cave walls look rather eerie:


Mara Freeman led us in a keening Celtic chant in the heart of Merlin's Cave, which suited this wild and mysterious place. Then we had time to explore the cave further and take photos. Dare I say that it was a magical experience?

[All photos of Tintagel and Merlin's Cave in the past few posts were taken by my Rare One, who is fast becoming the Official Photographer of the She Who Seeks blog!]

On Thursday, I will start a series of posts about Boscastle and the Museum of Witchcraft.

19 comments:

BugginWord said...

Ok seriously?!? You gave me shivers. Stop that.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Wow! What a cool experience!

But what did Merlin do, at high tide? Do they explain that?

But oh the crystal effect must be lovely.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oh, Aunt Amelia, you're so practical! I'm sure at high tide, Merlin was out running errands or having brunch with friends, or something!

faerwillow said...

~your one is a fabulous photographer....the quartz kind of looks like fingers sprawled across...what a sight! brightest blessings~

madtexter ☺☺☺☺☺☺ (corey james) said...

Okay, that is seriously cool! I've been enjoying reading about your traveling adventures. You've got your own travelog!

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

what terrific pictures..and I can't thank you enough for doing these posts and including the great pictures..thanks thanks thanks.

Emme Toaye said...

I felt as though I was there with my hand upon a cool smooth rock climbing downward toward the sandy shore below and it was a wonderful adventure. Thanks so much for that fun little trip!

Karen said...

What a place, would love to see it for real.. and your rant is appropriate.. there are similar caves in Bermuda and to say they are treacherous is an understatement. We floundered around in them but it's definitely an "enter at your own risk" thing.

mxtodis123 said...

OMG!!!! You are seeing places that I have only read and dreamed about...and I really appreciate your sharing them with us.
Mary

Eternally Distracted said...

yay to the official photographer... and to not slipping on rocks!!

Blueberry said...

Did Merlin have to live in a puddle of water? What an amazing looking waterfall!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes, Merlin did have to live in a puddle of water. That's why he was so desperate to train Arthur to be King so he could move to Camelot, where it was much drier.

Jeanne said...

The waterfall is beautiful! And I'm sure the Cave had a certain air f magick about it! How fun!

And I agree with you about the stairs! What were they thinking!?!? Or evidently they weren't!

Thank you to your Rare One for all the great pics!

Will rest up for the next leg of our journey......

AlbertaMama said...

What an amazing journey! Beautiful pictures too!!!

Mark said...

Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

Barbara said...

Oh, I love that you read Crystal Cave as a teenager, too. See? I knew we were kindred spirits! Now, I wonder what makes them think this is Merlin's cave? Is it word of mouth? Did he hang a shingle? Did the local reporter see him there? Inquiring minds want to know. :p)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

this is soooo cool. i can't wait to see the museum of witchcraft!

Rue said...

Wow! I would have loved being in that Cave (with the sunlight coming through, of course.) I'll bet the chant/song was so magickal inside there - the echoes must have been amazing!

miss*R said...

I believe Merlin may have been above the need for stairs and such... :)

and I guess that is the beauty of Cornwalls magic.. they don't change it to suit the tourists.. lifts & stairs would almost certainly take away the magic of it all.
so much enjoying your posts xo