Last month, having booked our Hoseasons holiday, down in Newquay, Cornwall, we decided that, as a family of six, it would be worth our while joining The National Trust, costing just £10 a month. Having looked on the website we discovered that there are a whole host of National Trust sites in Cornwall, and with our passes we could visit as many as we liked with free entry, inclusive of parking. One of the first places on our list was, unanimously, St Michaels’s Mount.
St Michaels Mount is the most incredible island separated from the mainland via the causeway and reached by walking at low tide and boat at high tide. Home to 30 islanders, St Michaels Mount is bursting with history and although the castle is still inhabited by the St Aubyn family, who have lived there since the 17th century, parts of the castle are still open to visitors.
With the tide in, we waited for the boat to take us across to the island which, when you have children, is all part of the adventure.
On the day we chose to visit the weather wasn’t great and, with high winds and rain, the crossing was a little choppy to say the least! The children thought that part was amazing and we were over and across within five minutes at a cost of just a couple of pounds each.
As we arrived on the island we decided to get a hot chocolate and warm up, although I will warn anyone who visits that the cafe prices are extortionate! But then I suppose when you’re cold and wet, a warm drink is priceless!
The island itself is so lovely and peaceful and I can completely understand why 30 people still inhabit the island. The buildings are all beautiful, with the most stunning views out, although I think I would struggle to live somewhere so cut off from the mainland, albeit it at such a short distance.
The island is rich with history and legend, with Jack the Giant Killer being one of the most well known. A gruesome beast who terrorised the land, Cormoran the giant made the Mount his home, stealing cattle when his tummy began to rumble. Only Jack, a young boy from Marazion, was brave enough to rid the town of its curse. One moonlit night, it’s said that he made his way across the cobbled causeway to lay a trap, before luring the monster out with a blast on his horn. And as you walk up the Pilgrims Steps to the castle you can actually see the Giant’s heart on the pathway!
The castle is stunning and as we approached it the views out to see, and across to the castle gardens were spectacular. I think castles are so special in that anyone, of any age, can really appreciate them and, as a family, they are definitely one of my favourite places to visit.
As we were greeted at the castle entrance, a member of staff explained that every child would receive a prize if they could tell the lady at the exit their favourite thing they had seen at the castle. I loved this idea as far too often these kind of rewards involve things too complicated for young children, but sharing just one thing they enjoyed was something every child could take part in. Although I knew the moment I saw the swords exactly what Harry would choose!!
A family home for centuries, the castle holds mementos, memories and moments of magic at every turn. From monks seeking solace in the priory, to HM the Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visiting in 2013, there is so much to see, do, and imagine.
Outdoors up in the towers you can see right across the coast, watch the boats out to sea, and take in the views. Although the weather wasn’t great on the day of our visit, it was easy to take cover as and when the showers came, making it a great day out all year round.
One of our favourite parts of the castle was the Priory Church, dating back to the the 12th century and still used for Sunday services today. 500 year old alabaster carvings of biblical scenes and a 15th Century granite Lantern Cross, now shelter in the safety of the priory walls, and it is utterly beautiful!
Throughout the castle are countless information points sharing important moments of history, interesting artefacts, and historical displays. For Gaz, Lewis and I, it was interesting to read more about the St Michaels Mount, and for the children it was great to hear them asking questions and debating over what their favourite thing would be at the exit.
In the end Harry chose the swords (standard!), Eva chose a silver teaspoon, and Megan chose the armour of a samurai warrior! They were rewarded with a gold medal which I thought was a really lovely touch.
As we walked back down towards the village we could see that the tide was going out decided to explore the island for a little longer so that we could walk back along the Causeway.
With a couple of shops and cafes, as well as an exhibition centre, there is still lots to do before, or after the castle. I imagine in the Summer months it would be lovely to bring a picnic and enjoy a paddle in the sea and explore the rock pools.
I think the most magical part of the day for me was the look on the children’s faces as, if by magic, the Causeway appeared and we could walk back over to the mainland.
We had such a fun day at St Michael’s Mount and it was lovely to tick off another castle on our list. Plus all of that fresh air completely wiped the children out which, let’s face it, is always a bonus.
With prices starting at £37.50 for a family of four, I think it’s very reasonable for a day out. You can find out more over at www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk.