We’ve been wanting to go to this place for quite some time.
But, for us anyway, it takes a bit more planning than your average day out. St. Michael’s Mount is technically an island, linked to the mainland by a pedestrian causeway only accessible at low tide. And therein lies the rub. Longstanding readers may recall that water and me are not the best of chums and even a short trip in a boat is a non starter.
Thusly, a number of factors come into play before we can go:
1. St Michael’s Mount has to be open; it isn’t every day.
2. The tide has to be playing ball. There’s only a 4 1/2 hour window of opportunity to walk out to the island, visit the castle and its gardens and return back down the causeway before the sea swamps it again. It needs an undertaking from Mike that on no circumstances will he dilly dally in careful consideration of a suit of armour or some other ancient artefact if the water is threatening to cut us off. This would necessitate a tiresome wait for the next low tide and
Burncoose Nursery is just up the road obviously that would mean getting home very late.
3. Ideally it should be a week day; less crowded.
4. The weather needs to be half way decent.
And yesterday all the planets were in alignment.
It started out with an early lunch at a rather pleasant restaurant overlooking the causeway. A great place to keep an eye on the tide and await the right moment..
The first brave souls venture out. But they are definitely still paddling out in the middle there and besides, I still have wine left.
The castle and chapel have been the home of the St Aubyn family since approximately 1650. The earliest buildings, on the summit, date to the 12th century, with much rebuilding from 1860 to 1900 to give the island its current form. In its heyday, the Mount’s harbour side village was home to over 300 islanders and by 1811 there were 53 houses, 4 streets, 3 schools and 3 public houses – the last one, the St Aubyn Arms, closing in 1902. The harbour was a bustling hive of activity, where ships set sail with Cornish tin and traders made their fortunes. Today it is managed by the National Trust with, aside from the family, just 30 people living and working on the island (edited from the National Trust Guide and Wikipedia).
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the weather would have been glorious had it not been for the wind. It was almost strong enough to blow a person over, not least at the very top of the island close to the castle. Worth it though, for the view…
The village on the far side is Marazion
The view down from the top of the castle walls
After spending an afternoon here I wonder if I should rename my own Precipitous Bank. St Michael’s Mount is positively vertiginous.. The gardeners literally abseil to tend the steepest parts of the rock face.
This plant was everywhere, seemingly clinging on to bare rock. I should have got a closer shot, it’s some sort of succulent.
So many tender plants that I’ve never encountered before, the climate here is truly sub tropical. That’s not to say it’s easy. The far south west coast of England is first in line for many an Atlantic storm.
In a few places low walls provide some protection from the salt laden spray off the sea. Here ‘hidden’ gardens thrive, tranquil spots that provide a welcome respite from the wind, even on a sunny day in June!
Agaves, aloes, aeoniums and many I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at: almost every available nook and cranny filled with plants
I bought an echium. It was only ever going to be on the basis that I (definitely not he) carried it back across the causeway and thankfully it was only a baby. Even so, cradling it to my bosom to protect it from the wind was no mean feat. I think we both made it unscathed. Yes, it is tender. Whether it will now like our inland valley garden is another matter again. But if you can’t indulge in a little bit of adventure for under a fiver then when can you.
The causeway at low tide.
They are repairing storm damage, hence the diggers. Part of the stone work has been completely taken up. I wonder if they’ve ever got the JCB stuck out there? To recover from
our my own epic battle with the echium we returned to the watering hole where ‘our’ table was still free and watched the last of the tourists wend their way back.
A marvellous day
Did I mention Burncoose?
🙂 🙂 🙂