The United Kingdom is famous for its castles and there are few areas across the UK with quite so many incredible castles as Devon and Cornwall! With over 30 different castles and historic ruins sites to choose from in the areas, it could be difficult to pick out which are worth a visit during your trip. However, we think these should certainly make the itinerary!
Here are our picks for the best castles across Devon and Cornwall.
Haldon Belvedere (formerly Lawrence Castle), Devon
Built by Sir Robert Palk in 1788, this beautiful Georgian structure has been incredibly maintained over its 230-year history. This is partly thanks to renovations made by the Devon Historic Buildings Trust in 1994, with the building having been awarded Grade II listed building status. These days, Haldon Belvedere is used mainly as a wedding venue - and what a show-stopping venue this would be for anyone to say ‘I do’!
Standing 244-feet above sea level and situated amongst Haldon Forest, Haldon Belvedere offers some of the most breathtaking views in Devon from its roof battlements, still accessible via a spiral stone staircase.
Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
History meets legend at Cornwall’s Tintagel Castle. Unlike many of the castles and strongholds across the United Kingdom, Tintagel wasn’t built for military purposes, rather it was directly inspired by the legend of Merlin and King Arthur. It seems that Richard, Earl Of Cornwall, decided to build the castle in the 13th century due to the site’s association with Arthurian legend alone!
The castle has continued to inspire awe and admiration ever since, with continued efforts made to maintain the structure’s significance for decades to come. The two areas of the castle structure were even brought together by the landmark Tintagel Bridge project in 2019, allowing visitors to the site to experience every part of it!
If you find yourself in Cornwall this year, be sure to walk the bridge and take in the history for yourself.
Dartmouth Castle, Devon
You’d struggle to find a castle in the UK that’s situated in a more beautiful location than Dartmouth Castle, which sits at the very edge of a cliff, overlooking the vast ocean. The reason for its location isn’t solely for aesthetic purposes, of course - Mayor of Dartmouth John Hawley commissioned the building in 1388 as means of guarding the busy Dartmouth port.
These days, however, the beauty of the building and its surroundings draw visitors to the site - especially the incredible view of Dartmouth offered by the castle’s rooftop battlement. Kingswear Castle as seen in the right of the photograph also overlooks Dartmouth Castle but is now used as a rather spectacular holiday home.
Restormal Castle, Cornwall
While the majority of the castle structure itself has fallen to ruin, Restormal is still popular with tourists thanks to its perfectly round shape - an ambitious architectural feat when it was built back in 1100. Some of the main rooms are still intact, too, so there’s still plenty of Norman history to be found here!
Restormal is one of four Normal castles in Cornwall and is perhaps the one with the most incredible views from its highest point - the castle overlooks the River Fowry, as well as acres of fields and woodland.
Okehampton Castle, Devon
Thought to be Devon’s oldest castle, Okehampton has fallen to ruin in the years since its last owner, Henry Courtney, was executed by Henry VIII. However, its thought that the castle actually pre-dates Courtney’s death by almost 500 years, with historians estimating that the castle was built between 1068 and 1086.
That’s not the only interesting aspect of Okehampton’s history, though! Fans of the paranormal will be particularly pleased to hear that Okehampton is supposedly haunted by Lady Howard, a woman who is thought to have murdered her four husbands, as well as headless horses pulling a carriage made of bones. So, if you’re easily spooked and do decide to visit, it may be best to leave before dark...
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