This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!
In my penultimate post covering my Penzance visit, I’ve got another must-see attraction for you. St Michael’s Mount is a castle perched on top of a tiny rocky island, a short distance from Marazion beach. The castle was (and still is) a family home for centuries and has a rich and intriguing history. It is now part of the National Trust, which we were happy to discover as our membership cards let us in for free.
The island is accessible either by walking the causeway at low tide, or by boat at high. We managed to time our visit whilst the causeway was clear, so we could enjoy the short walk across. I’d been a bit worried that I didn’t have any wellington boots, but fortunately when the tide is low these are completely unnecessary (although do warned that when the tide comes in, it comes in fast – we witnessed some poor people having to wade, knee deep in seawater, for part of the way back – and I have a sneaking suspicion that this misjudgement provides near daily entertainment for the locals…).
The walk takes a mere 10 minutes and gives you the chance to enjoy spectacular views of the coast and the looming castle ahead, so I do recommend trying to do the walk if possible.
It seems an unlikely spot for a garden to flourish, as plants are prey to extreme winds, but the rocks act as a sort of radiator, absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a micro climate where sub-tropical plants flourish.
Steep, twisting paths wind up the sides of the rocks, where you can explore the different gardens and admire the views as you go (this, by the way, is not the place to visit if you suffer from vertigo, or have trouble navigating uneven surfaces.).
You have the option to explore either the gardens or castle, or both. I wanted to see both, but access to castle is restricted from the garden side, so I walked back around the island to the entrance point for the castle.
I was in for another steep climb up to the castle (by this time, I’d left my Mum, who’d had enough walking for one day, comfortably ensconced at the NT cafe). I very much enjoyed the walk, even if it took some courage to approach the battalion walls and get a shot looking down….
I felt the romantic, isolated nature of the place was simply crying out to be made the setting of a Daphne du Maurier-type novel.
Some of the rooms are available to view, and they are richly and elegantly furnished, befitting a castle that has received royalty.
A visit to St Michael’s Mount is definitely worth it if you’re in the area. Tickets are £14 per adult to see the castle and garden (or free if you are a National Trust member). You can check opening times here.