St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

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Any visit to Cornwall might be considered incomplete without taking a trip over to St. Michael’s Mount. Winner of several Cornwall Tourism Awards, Taste of the West, and similar awards, this small island off the Cornish coast is not to be missed. While there are buildings at the ground level, the castle that sits atop the island casts an imposing shadow over proceedings.

Creative Commons Photo by Markus Jaschk

The Mount has officially been part of the National Trust for decades. However, the St Aubyn family has resided here for even longer and continues to do so. Together, the family and the National Trust ensure that the island is well maintained for tourists to visit.

The Castle and Surrounding Grounds

The castle has a history that dates back at least to the 1600s. Queen Victoria once graced the castle with her presence. There are many artifacts and a frieze depicting hunting scenes that were ever popular at the time. The fortified castle includes a priory, ancient corridors, imposing walls, and even a few cannons at the summit above that were once ready to defend against invaders from the sea. The Laundry Lawns where cows were once kept as a food source for the inhabitants is now a place to rest, have a picnic, or for the kids to burn off a little excess energy.

What Else is There to See and Do?

St. Michael’s Mount offers a countryside location with ample parks and gardens to enjoy. While it will only require a brisk 15-minute walk to get from one side to the other, most visitors prefer to take their time. Ambling around in the open air and taking in the impressive view either out to sea or back to shore is pleasant too. The gardens are well-maintained and get busy, so often are allocated in 30-minute slots with booking necessary to access them. This helps to prevent overcrowding.

Don’t Forget the Village

The nearby village on the island has been active since the 1800s and was a hubbub of activity for producing tin back in the day. Beyond that, the island harbour was used as far back as 2,000 years when Phoenician ships would arrive. Today, up to 30 residents still live here.

How to Visit

To plan a visit, tickets are proffered once a week, usually being released on the Friday before. If you think of this system as a little like how West End theatres may release sections of seats periodically for different dates, it’s not too dissimilar to that. Along with booking to visit the island, arranging for a car parking space ahead of time is highly recommended too. Showing up without a pre-arranged space can create unexpected issues.

Choose the Best Month to Go

Being just off the Cornish coast, the sea and tidal forces can ebb and flow over the year. As such, sometimes a visit to St Michael’s Mount is a little more tumultuous than at other times.

The island is shut for the winter around October each year and reopens in the New Year to visitors. Doing this avoids some of the worst of the variable weather. If you go at the right time of year, St Michael’s Mount is well worth a visit.

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