The Beach, Tintagel
Giant cave on the beach
Geoffrey of Monmouth gives Merlin a key role in the conception of Arthur at Tintagel. Tennyson made Merlin's Cave famous in his Idylls of King Arthur. Tennyson described waves bringing the infant Arthur to the shore, and Merlin carrying him to safety. Local legend has long associated this cave with Merlin and Arthur.
Merlin's Cave is on the right side of the rock at Tintagel (if you are standing facing the sea). It is very atmospheric, and one might indeed imagine Merlin approaching, with his staff held up to light up the darkness of the cave. It is 330 feet long, passing completely through Tintagel Island from Tintagel Haven on the east to West Cove on the west. It is a sea cave formed by marine erosion along a thrust plane between slate and volcanic rocks.
The steps down to the cave have been washed away and are blocked off. The only way down today is to clamber down the rocks to the beach. The cave fills with water at high tide, but has a sandy floor and is explorable at low tide.
King Arthur Tintagel Tintagel Castle Tintagel Visitor Centre