Famous as the supposed birthplace of King Arthur, Tintagel's stunning clifftop castle has been occupied since Roman times and once served as a residence for Cornwall's Celtic kings, but the present castle is largely the work of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who built a castle here during the 1230s. Though the Arthurian links may be tenuous, it's certainly a fine spot for a fortress: clinging to black granite cliffs, surrounded by booming surf and wheeling gulls, it's the classic fairy-tale castle.

Though much of the structure has crumbled away, it's still possible to make out several walls and much of the original layout. Part of the castle stands on a rocky outcrop cut off from the mainland, and is accessed via a wooden bridge and a very steep staircase (vertigo sufferers beware).

Trails lead along the headland to the atmospheric medieval chapel of St Glebe's, and down on the beach below the castle, the rocky mouth of Merlin's Cave is exposed at low tide – local legend claims it's where the wizard once wove his spells.

It's a steep walk down to the castle from the village car parks; in summer, Land Rover taxis shuttle up and down throughout the day.