Let's Go! Cornwall Coast and Tintagel, England

Facilities Manager and I just returned from a most wonderful trip to England, primarily London and the Southwest areas. While much of it was centered around seeing friends and visiting historic, special locales, there was a bit of plant photography going on, most notably at Kew Gardens just outside of London. More of those lengthier posts to come in the future, but for now, in my jet-lagged state, I give you the green countryside of the Cornish coast.
This is the view out of our bed and breakfast window at The Avalon. I think it will be one of those sites that I imagine when I'm super-stressed, the kind of unbelievable places in the world that really exist. Turquoise waters in Mexico have the same effect. 

The garden in our backyard was charming. This rock is used throughout the region, shale, which apparently this is of the very highest quality. 

A happy mophead hydrangea. The weather as can be seen, was spectacular. Apparently this is normal for the Cornish coast, a sort of banana belt of England. 

Out on a walk to see the cliff side, we went through a small forested area. 

Much of the English countryside had moments of looking like Oregon to me.

The path led us through fields of livestock, something we encountered a lot. I'm still cleaning the bottom of my shoes.  

Looking back at the rolling emerald hills and the white-washed village of Tintagel. 

This is St. Materiana church, built almost entirely as we see it today. Dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, just after the Norman invasion of 1066, this site once had an oratory on this same location from a much earlier date, so has been a site of worship for nearly 1400 years. 

More interesting shale walls.

 We primarily chose Tintagel, a small village north of Port Isaac (where "Doc Martin" is filmed), because of its historic castle. Well, I'll be damned . . . the castle site was closed when we arrived, we missed it by just four days. Apparently they are building a new footbridge. I wish their website would have mentioned that beforehand, we would have altered our plans so we wouldn't have missed it. No worries, we saw it from other angles, despite our not being able to actually walk among the ruins.

King Arthur Legend of Tintagel: For those of you not familiar, the story goes that at the castle of Tintagel, Igraine, married to Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, was alone while her husband was fighting far away. Uther Pendgragon, King of all of Briton who was in love with Igraine, was changed to look like Gorlois by Merlin the magician with an enchanted spell. This is how he was able to visit Igraine one night and how King Arthur was conceived. Pretty incredible, but the story endures. The castle is on an island and is thought to actually be an early place of great significance for trade and eventually Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, built a castle on this site in the 13th century.

The cave at the base of the cliff (above) is said to be Merlin's cave and at low tide (when it's open) you can explore. I would have been all over that. Well, I suppose it's a valid reason to return.

More ruins from a distance and steep cliffs. 

 The pathway and wall leading to the entrance.

The entrance as seen from the cliff just across the bridge.

The path. 

Cliff side with grasses and Armeria maritima growing in abundance.

Most of the Armeria maritima was finished blooming but I found one still going strong. 

A whole cliff side of it. 

 In the town itself, life moves a little slower. It is a very charming place with excellent food and super friendly people. I wish we could have stayed much longer.

A typical garden along the main road.

The town next door to Tintagel is Boscastle with an amazing layout in a deeply cut valley with a creek running through. Here, the creek can be seen as it flows towards the turquoise green waters of the sea a few hundred yards further on.

A sweet foot bridge and a variety of ferns and shade loving plants along the edge of the stream. 

 Homes facing the stream on the more open end of the valley.

 One attraction in tiny Boscastle is the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. It has been in Boscastle since 1960, holds nearly 4,000 objects with many permanent displays as well as regularly changing exhibitions. I had a lot of fun perusing through the many herbal remedies as shown here.

 The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

A green man on the door.

Long before conventional Western medicine, herbs, plants and knowledge of them was crucial for survival. Even today, many drugs are still derived from the plant world and I think we still have a lot to learn about the potential of plants for healing. 

 Good to know.

 Moving along down the stream towards the ocean.

Along the cliffs. 

Nearly sunset. 

The entrance to the tiny harbor. 

Turning around, looking back towards the village. 

A garden along the path. 

One final shot of sunset looking out of our bed-and-breakfast window.

I realize this is not the most garden-specific post that I've done, it's more about the spirit of place. It is often the natural world of plants, animals and geology that make the deepest marks on our conscience, helping to connect us with the mysteries of this world. That is what gardening and plants do for me and by looking at this landscape as a whole, the entire village of Tintagel feels like a garden in my heart. Not all places are like this. Some, such as Tintagel, Glastonbury, Kew Gardens and the real 100-Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh in Ashdown Forest, all of which we visited, do feel like spiritual gardens. I hope you join me in the coming weeks as I continue to write about our journeys to these remarkable places in the enchanted land of England.

That's a wrap for this jetlagged week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting and happy gardening everyone!


  1. Thanks for sharing pictures from your trip. What a bummer that the castle was closed. The Witchcraft Museum looks fascinating! I would have found that B&B view restful too.

    1. I know...we, well I was very very bummed. I thought about running past the guard lady in a kamikaze move just to see it, but there were too many witnesses. That B&B was the BEST, by the way.

  2. Views of the English countryside and other parts of Europe do make all those old myths seem a lot more real. While you missed a chance to see Tintagel Castle up close, I've no doubt you made to most of your trip and I look forward to seeing your other photos after you've had plenty of time to recoup from your travels.

    1. They all come alive when you're in the land and see the living rock. We had a great time despite it being closed and will have much more to share in the coming weeks.

  3. Nice photos and descriptions. Really enjoyed it. Looks like a destination spot for sure. I've been following for years and this is my first comment! Probably because I love the legend and the magic. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, I am thrilled you read the blog and that you commented! There is magic in this world, England just reinforced this for me, it is an amazing place.

  4. What fun to be there. Lucky you and lucky us seeing this through your eyes.

    1. Thank you Lisa! I'm glad you feel this way. We were very lucky indeed.

  5. Welcome home! I’m so glad you’re back and the trip looked to be wonderful (even with rudely unpublished closures!)... your photos are dreamy, and the gardens so lovely. Sigh...

    I look forward to more!

    1. Thanks, Danger! The whole place is dreamy. Every little village is so remarkable, built so well, so old (for our standards), charming does not describe it. Ancient gigantic trees...Throw in the occasional henge or other ancient monument and wow. Enchanted England.

  6. Wheee - Bonus vacation peeks. Love the green and so happy the weather cooperated! I did not know this was THAT castle..even from beyond, you shared the magic♡♡♡

  7. Anonymous3:43 PM PDT

    Oh boy, oh boy! Are we in for lots of fun reading more of your posts about this trip! I'm hooked already.

  8. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.


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