Rounding a headland, I came suddenly upon the castle ruins. From that distance, they appeared to consist entirely of stone steps crossing and recrossing the cliff faces at suicidal angles. Tintagel Castle was built half on the mainland and half on an island, with a bridge between that only the daring would risk on such a day. I was alone with the wild weather as I crossed, and scrambled up steep wet steps on the island side. I saw the traces left behind by the Romans, as well as the more recent ruins of the castle, where the story of Tristan and Isolde played to its sad conclusion. Here at Tintagel, too, they say Arthur was born through Merlin's scheming. I saw Merlin's cave on the beach, but even my daring would not let me go down through the wild waves. I saw other half-submerged caves, where perhaps Merlin's strange guests would once have stayed.
Of Merlin himself there was no sign, though I looked long and hard, and called him from the clifftops. The daunting increase of the wind and rain gave proof, as if any were required, of the magical nature of this place.
Soaked to the skin, as wet as if I had gone down to the cave and waded
through the surf, I retreated to the village of Tintagel, and was delighted
to find a thoroughly Walding place. All the shops and eating-houses are
"Merlin's" or "King Arthur's", and everything is for sale. A shop called
The Dragon's Breath has fairy grottoes, complete with animated elves.
On the way back from Tintagel, I found more magic...
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