Olly Writes

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St. Michael’s Mount

Monday 18th July 2016

On the morning after my debut coastal walk in Cornwall, I found myself without the usually aches that would often follow a fifteen-miler. Had I not made other plans, I could’ve gone on another walk… My only ‘pain’ was the recurrent lack of breakfast, due to a faulty stove.

I had decided that, being my last full-day in Cornwall, I would take the time to visit St. Michael’s Mount near Marazion.

Looking west to Penzance.

Having read ahead, I knew that the main property wouldn’t be open until 11am and further research ahead of time (thanks to Google StreetView) suggested there might even be a car park over the road from the main one that would charge only £1.50 for an entire day’s parking…

Despite driving around and having to encounter a caravan down one narrow lane, I could not find anything other than a private car park. Perhaps it’s no longer running. So, I returned to the main beach-side car park in Marazion and reluctantly paid £3.50 at the gate (ahead of this trip, I’d read that it only costs £3).

With one expense already covered and time to spare (it was probably 10.30am), I popped inside the shack beside the coaches and cars to order a hot, freshly cooked sausage roll and a takeaway cup of tea. Another £3 spent but, my first half-decent breakfast for forty-eight hours.

Crowds and groups of people were already making their way along the infamous causeway and to the iconic island of St. Michael. Would there be room for us all?

Something I hadn’t noticed beforehand was that there are a number of buildings that surround the lower regions of the mount. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I believe St. Michael’s Mount is also inhabited.

I was pleased that the tide was low enough to walk across at this time. With so many people about, I cannot imagine how much longer it might’ve taken if we had all been required to step on to a boat (which would cost another £2 and I think that’s only one way).

Upon the island, life was far more ‘residential’ than I could’ve imagined.

A patch of green land – an appealing picnic site, so close to the harbour – had been fenced off to repair the grass that had recently been restored. Hopefully, it’ll be open again in time.

On this day, the temperatures would peak at 25°C (officially a ‘heatwave’, in the UK). After having explored the cool and shaded rooms detailing the history of the mount, I passed through the National Trust entrance to begin the climb up to the top.

With these cobbles, it would’ve been hard going for anyone wearing regular shoes. I’d read about how you could find The Giant’s Heart near to his well (The Giant’s Well) but it wasn’t at all easy to spot and it was only with thanks to the woman stood next to me that I was able to take the next photo:

This heart is probably a good eighteen inches away from the edge of the well. On the way back down, I would encounter another couple who were struggling to find it… Despite my best efforts in helping them, I couldn’t rediscover, either.

Stepping inside the house, I was surprised, to have encountered one of only a very few National Trust properties where I’ve not been encouraged the remove and securely stow away my backpack.

I would’ve happily done so, however, as the interior space of each room was rather compact – as well as being humid – and groups of people were mulling about at every turn.

I was intrigued by this spiral staircase apparently descending to an area beneath our feet:

Access is forbidden, thanks to the installation of a glass or polycarbonate sheet – I wasn’t the one privileged to be able to stand and witness how well it retained this larger man’s weight.

Some of the medieval furniture was interesting.

Including this three-legged corner chair.

Up above, the roof appeared to be in very good condition, from its interior.

Suddenly, I was back outside again and exposed to the scorching sun.

Far down below us, you could see the gardens on the north-face of the mount but, at no point did I see any signs advising you on how to get there… If, indeed, you can.

My next space for exploration was the chapel; following signs that direct you in which way to go.

I wasn’t the only person attempting to take photos of the interior. Sadly, it lacked that ‘cold (although damp) church feel’.

Exiting the chapel and turning right through the courtyard, you enter the blue room.

Most exciting of all, was this replica of St. Michael’s Mount; made entirely from wine bottle corks!

I believe this was the work of the butler or servant. Either way, it deserves its place within the sealed and glazed box.

There was just one more room to visit before returning to the outdoors and that was more of a museum or exhibition space, featuring this Samurai armour, among other items of interest.

Numbers were increasing, as I began to think about lunch.

There is a viewing point (as if this space needs one so particular) that I passed on, simply due to the volume of people queuing up for a peek.

Nearby, an unmarked set of steps leads you up to a small secluded garden area, with nothing much in particular to take notice of.

Having glanced at the restaurant’s menu on passing, I decided to head for the café on the opposite side of the island and see how their offerings might compare.

One of the main picnic areas was deserted, with the sun blazing high overhead.

Just ahead of the café lies the entrance to a garden… Perhaps the garden that I had looked down upon, earlier. A large sign stated that the gardens were closed on this day so, here’s a view of the graveyard, instead.

This café serves decaf tea and so, I felt I was on to a winner. There was a slow-moving queue ahead of my chance to order, along with a BLT sandwich. I think I paid nearly £8 for the lot but I like National Trust teas for the fact their pots give you three full cups, where as many other cafés struggle to supply you with two and a half (not forgetting the extra pot of hot water).

Man others had already acquired the picnic benches outside and I didn’t’ fancy sitting on a wall. So, I opted for indoor seating. It wasn’t as cool as I’d hoped but the service was good and I found a table for myself. For the first time in forty-eight hours, I was able to connect with mobile internet and receive text messages.

Back down towards the harbour, I found these footsteps, cast within the concrete. I believe the sign stated that they were taken from Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit. As I read the sign and struggled to find them beneath my own feet, a woman stepped back only to realise she’d been hiding them beneath her own.

I’d read a sign stating that 13.15 would be the last time at which people were permitted to walk along the causeway… I still didn’t fancy paying extra or queuing for a time longer than what would be required to walk across.

That time was approaching. During my exploration of the harbour and its walls, I found myself innocently descending a set of steps next to the bold red sign: “Do not climb these steps”.

Many of the small boats appeared to be stuck in the mud… Or, is that genuine sand?

It seemed more likely that this was the vessel that would soon carter visitors across the water… Maybe next time.

I was recently told that I came here (to the beach) as a child… While I don’t remember much in the way of features or familiarity (I was two-years old), I can remember being beside the sea.

People walk this way as a means of pilgrimage (see St. Michael’s Way).

Activity had since picked up along the sands of the beach but, being a Monday (I suppose), it didn’t have the ‘compacted’ feel that I had expected, on such a sunny day.

Unsure of what to do next, I decided to try and see how the coast path would fare, heading east from here.

…Well, it seems as though the beach-walking comes to an immediate halt as you’re forced to climb steps up and in to the town. My next steps were spent walking around Marazion with no destination in mind or intention to remain still.

Before returning to the beach, I bought two scoops of ice cream (another £3.50) from a local shop. One scoop was labelled as Cornish Cream Tea… To me, it tasted very much like Dorset Cream Tea…

See Devon Vs. Cornwall Cream Teas.

Higher up the beach and away from the kids running around, I sat down to eat a few of the snacks I’d bought with me and began to read a book, whilst unable to pinpoint a single cloud within the sky.

Finding it hard to concentrate with the repetitive sound of a whistling ball, thrown back and forth through the air; I put the majority of my kit in to the boot of my car and headed down to the water.

That previous evening, my neighbours on the campsite had told me they had not yet been in to the water as it was only about 3°C (that’s 22°C less than on dry land). Having removed my shoes and socks, I walked in until the waves were close to my knees. I walked around, whilst maintaining a safe distance from the swan and cygnets.

For me, this was a fairly relaxed time, with a good portion of the afternoon still to follow. I was not tracking my mileage or looking to be anywhere in particular by a certain time. I spent almost £20 extra but it was worth it.

Thanks for reading.

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One response to “St. Michael’s Mount

  1. Pingback: Goonhilly Downs | Olly Writes

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