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St Michael's Mount

Visited May 2014

Location Marazion, Cornwall
Entrance Fee Yes
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Car parks in Marazion
Facilities Café, Gift shop, Toilets


Needing no introduction, St Michael's Mount and the castle thereon is surely one of the best known sites of Cornwall!






To get to the castle you need to first get to the town of Marazion, which is where you park your car. Then to get across to the mount it is either by boat, or across the causeway, if the tide is out. The causeway is an interesting experience, but do check the tide times first, we left it a little too late on the way back and ended up wading through ankle-deep water (you would have though it was up to our necks the fuss the children made!!)


Once over onto the mount there is a small harbour with a gift shop, toilets and several cafes.  The cafes especially get very busy at peak times, so we decided to have a late breakfast in one of them, to fuel our steep climb up the mount (and so we could then avoid eating there during the very busy lunch period). The climb up to the castle is steep, there is no getting round it, so you have to be reasonably able-bodied. There are various points of interest along the way, such as the former dairy which was based on the monk's kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey, the Giant's Well and the Giant's Heart. Legend has it that a giant once lived on the mount, until he was lured out in the night and fell into a specially dug pit  and died. St Michael is also said to have appeared in a vision on the mount, hence the name.





Perched precariously at the top of the mount is the castle. What we see today is mostly a Victorian rebuild, but there has been a castle on the mount since the 12th century. Prior to that it was a place of pilgrimage, with an abbey on the summit, a sister monastery to Mont Saint-Michel in France, which has many similarities to its Cornish counterpart.


The mount saw action during the civil war, when the Royalists held it for the king for four years. After its eventual surrender, Colonel  John St. Aubyn became governor of the mount on behalf of Oliver Cromwell. The St. Aubyn family still live at the castle today, so it is very much still a family home.


There is a lot to see inside the castle, including the Chevy Chase room (not named after the American actor, but an old English ballad about a hunt ) Scenes from the ballad are depicted in the plaster frieze around the room. There is also a large roof terrace, with stunning views out to sea, and views over the garden, which was designed to be viewed from above.





On the terrace is also the entrance to the chapel, part of the original monastery, and still used today for worship. The church is beautiful, with some wonderful examples of statues and carvings.


There is a children's trail for the castle, which seemed to be very successful at keeping the children amused, there were no signs of boredom anyway! There is a prize awarded for all the correct answers, and yes, someone really does check them first!


The entrance to the gardens is down at harbour level, but the descent is easier, for obvious reasons. The gardens are terraced up the side of the hill, they are well maintained and stunning, but also very busy and the narrow terraces make it difficult to pass the huge number of people all milling around at the same time. 


The café sells very nice ice creams which are just the ticket before the journey back over the causeway (or by boat, depending on the tide!)





More info: St Michael's Mount

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