After a wonderful week off socialising with friends and family in Hampshire and London I returned to Tintagel today, undeterred by the storms of the last few days. OK, maybe a little deterred. But I figure I have to get back to it sometime and (this being the UK) if I stop every time it looks like rain it could be years before I finish.
Returning to Tintagel has been a surreal experience. Traffic congestion in Wadebridge from the Royal Cornwall Show scotched my chances of getting the busses to connect so I took a taxi from Bodmin Parkway station instead. As a result, I unexpectedly spent the last 45 minutes of my journey swapping lively stories about watching lions kill in the Kruger National Park and the Masai Mara and our experiences with wild scorpions as the car wound round the tiny Cornish lanes. The driver also gave me a bit of local colour about the Camelot Castle Hotel so, after I’d pitched my tent, I wandered round to check it out.
Owned by artist Ted Stourton and his business partner John Mappin, the hotel’s website describes it as ‘the diamond jewel of Cornwall’. Trip Advisor suggests there may be more than one view to be had on that subject, however, and a quick google search turns up as many hits on Scientology (of which the owners are fully paid-up adherents) as on the hotel’s accommodations. Rumours abound that the building is a Scientology recruitment centre, attempting to indoctrinate staff, locals and guests into the cult. But aside from a few sidelong glances at my muddy hiking boots (which was probably not unreasonable) I emerged unscathed after a drink at the bar. On the whole I found the prominent photos in the lobby of John & Irina Mappin posing with various celebs, the crested A4 invitation to participate in ‘a television project about the extraordinary work of Ted Stourton…and its positive global effects’ that dominated my table, and the incongruous Bentley parked right in front of the entrance to be obnoxiously self-aggrandising rather than actively sinister. Perhaps I just didn’t stay long enough!
So far my tent has not been called on to withstand nothing more than a heavy dew, but it may perhaps face a tougher test tonight. Either way, I’m hoping the weather clears up at least a little before I continue on the Coast Path tomorrow…