St Michael´s Mount, Marazion, Penzance, Cornwall
St Michaels Mount is, for want of a string of better words, an island off the coast of Cornwall, close to the town of Marazian and Penzance.
Getting there is easy, as once you get to Cornwall (No mean feat if you don´t like driving), but I digress, If you proceed towards Lands End or Penzance, once your near to Penzance/Marazian on the A30 the Mount is signposted. A word of advice of advice though is to drive past the first car park and drive into Marazian as there is a car park closer to the Mount than this one, and it was £1.50 not £2 as is the first. Its also a lot closer to the causeway, the town centre and the boats. Very handy if you intend to go shopping in Marazian after you´ve visited the Mount.
This huge lump of rock is now owned by the National Trust but the island is open to the public at large and you only have to pay if you go across on the boats (£1 for adults) or if you wish to visit the castle.
Admission to the castle is £11.50 for adults and children but you can buy a family ticket for £28.50. Check prices though as these where correct in April 2015.
Access to the island is by either boat or by walking across the causeway which links the mainland to the island. The causeway cannot be walked over during high tide as although the water isn´t very deep, 5 feet I am informed, but there are strong under currents as the tide goes out, plus it was freezing when we went at the start of July.
If you have to take the boat the journey takes approximately 5 minutes and as I said before costs £1 for adults. Dogs are permitted on the island, but not inside the national trust property itself.
Visitors should time their visit with the tides so they can walk across the causeway and tide information is available on 01736 710265.
Once on the island, whether you walked or got the ferry, you will end up in the harbour, the arrival by ferry is better as you seen the island from a better view than by walking as the harbour walls obscure the view from the causeway.
The harbour itself contains the Ticket office, Cinema, Sail loft restaurant, the NT shop, the gift shop and the entrance to the castle. If you wish to go to the castle and are not a National Trust member you will have to go to the Ticket office first and purchase your tickets, these are then shown at the castle entrance to gain entry.
So you know what´s on the island, but what’s the history I hear you cry?
Well, originally the island was used as a Benedictine priory in the twelfth century and daughter house of the famous St Michels mount in Normandy, France. From the twelfth century the mount has been the scene of many military sieges, a well known place of pilgrimage and from 1660 until today, the home of the St Aubyn family. Yawn!
The entrance to the castle is quite a walk up a long and winding cobble stone path, which is definitely not suitable for pushchairs, still won´t stop some folk trying! and there are quite a few changes of floor level once you get in to the castle. If you can walk up a flight of stairs then you´ll be okay!
The castle is split into many rooms each with period decoration and furniture. I am still at a loss why there is a room called the Chevy Chase room? Perhaps somebody can enlighten me?
As well as the rooms the castle also has an amazing roof terrace which gives views over the island and the gardens down below. Around these balconies are cannons pointing out to sea to ward off any incoming invaders.
The cinema shows a brief history of the island, the shop sells miscellaneous nik-naks and the tea rooms sell clotted creams tea´s (yum!) and beverages at a reasonable price. My advise is to try the clotted cream ice cream.
To sum up this is a well maintained property with plenty to see and do with beautiful views. St Michaels Mount is certainly worth a visit even if its just to walk the causeway.
In my opinion the views really make this a nice place to visit and the house contents where about as interesting as a dose of piles! Go for the views, they really make this place special.