Tintagel, North Cornwall, is rumoured to be where King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table called home. But underneath the famous castle lies a cave where Merlin reportedly lived and brought Arthur when he washed up on the shore as a baby. Read Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, then visit during a low tide to explore the sandy floored hidey-hole. Be warned, if the tide is high, the cave is fully submerged so we can only assume Merlin had to do some of his famous shape-shifting in order to stay there 24/7. You, however, can stay in the nearby King Arthur’s Arms Inn right by the coast and Tintagel itself.
There are so many myths surrounding Gormire Lake and Whitestonecliffe in North Yorkshire that we feel ONE of them must be true. Firstly, the ghost of a man, a horse and a witch all haunt the clifftop after tumbling to their deaths pursued by the devil, and a goose is rumoured to have vanished in the lake only to reappear 12 miles away completely bald. In fact, many believe the area might be the entrance to hell! Fancy it? ‘Course you do. Nab a room in the nearby Whitestonecliffe Inn, which looks rather heavenly, actually. Just try not to bump into any ghosts at the breakfast buffet (they take forever in the toast queue).
In the North East, “hobs” are helpful (if mischievous) household spirits, and there’s nowhere better to get your hob on than Runswick Bay in Scarborough. A beautiful cove complete with clifftops, ancient trackways for long walks, and a tiny cave called a hobhole, thought to be the home of a hob with the magical power of curing children of whooping cough. The Firs Guesthouse is your best bet for the cosiest of beds, but keep that window closed; you’re only a stretch of coastline away from Dracula’s Whitby Abbey!
We love a challenge, so the Cader Idris mountain in Wales is right up our alley. The name translates to Seat of the giant Idris, and apparently if you fall asleep on it, you could wake up a poet. Bards would kip on the mountain for inspiration, despite the fact that it’s also rumoured to be the hunting ground of the dogs of the underworld. Cheery. Thankfully there are also some lovely non-hellish walks and the charming Gwesty Minffordd Hotel situated right at the base of the mountain, so you can test out that theory yourself.
Proof that land-locked areas can still boast exotic sea life, the Peak District is said to be home to two mermaids. The aptly named Mermaid’s Pool was a site for ancient Celtic water rituals mainly because the water is salty – very unusual for an inland lake – and the mermaids are said to only appear around Easter time. If they gaze fondly at you, you’ll become immortal. If not, they’ll pull you to your death because there’s no grey area with mermaids. On the plus side, the waters are said to have healing properties and the nearby Mermaid Inn is ideal for post-fish-woman debrief sessions.