Day 2. St. Michael’s Mount & Penzance, Cornwall

After enjoying a hearty breakfast in our hotel, we hopped in the car for the 25 minute journey to Marazion on Cornwall’s south west coast to visit St. Michael’s Mount.  We parked in the main Folleyfield car park which charges a flat rate £4 all day fee.  The car park is only a few minutes walk from the causeway but if you prefer to try and park slightly nearer there is a smaller car park charging 50p more but you may need to turn round if it is already full.

St. Michael's Mount Causeway
Approaching the causeway

St. Michael’s Mount is a small rocky island, 500 metres from the shore in Mount’s Bay and is crowned with a medieval church and castle.  It was the site of a monastery in the 8-11th centuries and is now twinned with Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France.  I’ve not had an opportunity to go there yet but my younger son visited awhile back on a school trip.

The causeway, St. Michael's Mount
Walking along the causeway

We had pre-booked a 10.30 a.m. timed entrance ticket to visit the castle.  Standard adult admission is £11.50 but free to members of the National Trust.  If you just want to stroll across the causeway and explore the small village at the foot of the mount there is no charge to do this.

The tiny village on St. Michael's Mount
The tiny village and harbour entrance

The granite causeway is covered by sea at certain times of day so it is important to check the tide times prior to visiting.  It’s passable for two hours either side of low tide and at other times is accessible via a small boat but this was not running when we visited.  The stone setts were quite damp underfoot but although the path was uneven in places, it wasn’t slippery but I do recommend wearing a pair of sensible shoes.

St. Michael's Mount harbour
The tiny harbour

The weather wasn’t at its best for our visit but it didn’t stop us enjoying our walk across to the island.  First, we explored the tiny hamlet at the foot of the castle which is now only home to a handful of cottages where around 30 people live and work.  Back in the 1800’s it was a flourishing village with 300 inhabitants and over 50 homes.  The buildings that housed the village laundry and pilchard press are still in use today but for different purposes including the gift shop and café.  During the Mount’s long history it has seen life as a priory, fortress and a place of pilgrimage before finally becoming the private home of the St. Aubyn family in 1659.

The Pilgrims' steps, St. Michael's Mount
Climbing the Pilgrims’ steps up to the castle
The Castle, St. Michael's Mount
Approaching the castle at the top of the island

We had our tickets checked before climbing the steps up to the castle.  The walk up to the top is quite steep and although there are handrails visitors have to navigate up a series of stone steps, gravel slopes and uneven sized slabs but it’s worth the effort as there are some stunning views to be had from the top, even when it’s raining.

View from the top of St. Michael's Mount
Stunning views from the castle

We followed a one way, self guided tour through the castle which we entered through a heavy medieval doorway that led us into the Entrance Hall.  This contained a collection of weapons and the coat of arms of St. Aubyn’s on one of its walls.

St. John's Room, St. Michael's Mount
St. John’s Room, the castle library

Continuing, we moved into St. John’s Room with its panoramic views out to sea.  This study houses an historical tidal clock which was very useful for planning trips to the mainland.  Our tour then took us into the Library and Great Hall with its wonderful stained glass windows.

Blue Drawing Room, St. Michael's Mount
The Blue Drawing Room

My favourite part of the castle was the Blue Drawing Room where Queen Victoria enjoyed afternoon tea with the housekeeper during an unannounced visit in 1846 when the family were away from home.  Finally, we looked in the Priory Church, a 12th century chapel which is still in use today for Sunday services.

The castle walls, St. Michael's Mount
Along the castle’s walls

Back outside, we stepped onto the terraces high up on the castle walls where we were rewarded with some breathtaking views back across the causeway and down onto hillside gardens which surround the castle.

The battlements, St. Michael's Mount
Looking down at the castle battlements

After viewing the battlements we carefully made our way back down the steep path towards the causeway. We passed the formal, terraced gardens which were designed in the 1780’s but as they are only open until the end of September we could just catch a glimpse of them from afar.  Despite being in an exposed position with strong winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate here so that frosts are a rarity creating a micro climate where numerous tender plants are able to survive.

Views from St. Michael's Mount
Returning back down the steep path to the causeway

Fortunately, the rain clouds had started to give way to a glimmer of sunlight as we strolled back across the causeway which was a promising sight.  Before returning to the car we took the opportunity to explore the pretty little village of Marazion where we found a selection of cafes, galleries and gift shops.

View of St. Michael's Mount from Marazion
View of St. Michael’s Mount from Marazion

The large car park was almost empty when we had arrived a couple of hours earlier but on returning, there was hardly a space to be found so it’s a good idea to arrive early and beat the crowds if at all possible.

The pedestrianised centre of Penzance
Pedestrianised streets of Penzance

From Marazion it was then only three miles to Penzance where we found some unrestricted parking along Belgravia Street very close to the town centre.  Penzance is a seaside town and popular tourist destination. It’s also the final stop on the Great Western rail line in the south west.  We were ready for a bite to eat and a coffee so we found a pleasant pub for some lunch before taking a look at what the town had to offer.

The historic Market & Guildhalls in Penzance
The former market and guildhall

The centre is pedestrianised and lined with small shops and cafes, many offering the local delicacies of Cornish pasties and crab sandwiches which we intended to sample during our stay in the county.  After browsing the shops we continued past the Market House and along Chapel Street.  The Market House historically contained the town’s market and guild halls, with prison cells below the market hall.  Nowadays it’s a branch of Lloyd’s Bank.  Chapel Street is the most historic street in Penzance and runs from the centre of town to the harbour and is lined with an assortment of antique shops and galleries.

Penzance harbour
Penzance Harbour

We enjoyed a stroll around the working harbour which has been the lifeblood of the town for hundreds of years.  Along with nearby Newlyn, Penzance is the first secure harbour on the coast of the English Channel when approaching from the Atlantic, it still operates fishing boats as well as regular passenger services to the Isles of Scilly.

Jubilee Pool, Penzance
The Art Deco Jubilee Pool Lido

Along the seafront at Battery Rocks, we came across an art deco open air lido known as the Jubilee Pool.  It’s only open to the public during the summer months but appeared to be available to clubs off season as some brave people were actually braving the elements and taking a dip.  Some, but not all of them were wearing wetsuits and it made me feel cold just to watch them.  The lido also contains a sheltered sun terrace and small café which would be pleasant during warmer weather.

Morrab Gardens, Penzance
The sub-tropical Morrab Gardens

We continued along the promenade until we spotted a sign for the Morrab Sub Tropical Gardens which are free to visit and link the seafront to the town centre.  This sheltered three acre garden surrounds a stucco villa, now in use as the library.  The park boasts a Victorian bandstand, fountain and numerous sub-tropical and Mediterranean plants which flourish in Cornwall’s mild climate.

The Victorian bandstand, Morrab Gardens, Penzance
The Victorian gardens in the Morrab Gardens

It was then not far to walk back to the car.  Penzance had been a lovely small town to visit and we were soon on our way again, this time to the picturesque village of Mousehole, pronounced ‘Mowzel’.

Mousehole harbour, Cornwall
Mousehole Harbour

We parked along the seawall on the approach to Mousehole, which is free and also avoids the narrow, twisting roads in the centre.

Mousehole harbour
Mousehole harbour

Walking into the centre didn’t take very long and on arriving at the waterfront the village looked gorgeous with its picture perfect tiny harbour and stunning views.  Mousehole was known as the centre of the Cornish fishing trade for its shoals of pilchards and became a bustling little port with ships lined up waiting to export the cured pilchards to France.

Mousehole beach and harbour
Mousehole harbour and small beach

The sun had put in a welcome appearance and we enjoyed a stroll along both sides of the harbour wall before taking a look at the village itself.

The South West Coast Path in Mousehole
Along a short stretch of the South West Coast Path

It’s one way streets are incredibly narrow so we were glad we had parked further out and were able to explore the quaint little shops, pubs and cafes on foot.  We decided to walk back to the car along part of the South West Coast Path which hugs the shoreline.  After a short walk along the edge of the pebbled beach, we found a flight of steps back up to the road which, by chance, brought us out near where we had left the car.

Newlyn harbour Cornwall
Newlyn harbour

As we’d passed through Newlyn on our way to Mousehole, we called there on our way back finding street parking outside the RNLI visitor centre (currently closed).  We enjoyed a short walk around its fishing harbour and couldn’t resist taking a look at some of the boats moored in the harbour.  Newlyn is a working harbour and isn’t quite as pretty as its close neighbour Mousehole, but certainly worth a short stop.

Fishing harbour, Newlyn, Cornwall
The fishing harbour at Newlyn

It was then around 5.30 p.m. by the time we returned to our hotel in Camborne after a lovely first full day exploring Cornwall.  Dinner in the pub, a catch up on the news and more planning for the next day.

 

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St Michael's Mount and Penzance

85 thoughts on “Day 2. St. Michael’s Mount & Penzance, Cornwall

  1. I heard about St. Michael’s Mount a few times and would love to go there one day. I have been to Cornwall once and am keen to go back. It certainly is a pretty part of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Day 7. Doc Martin’s Port Isaac & Tintagel, Cornwall – Love Travelling Blog

  3. We visited Penzance and St Michael’s Mount around 2 years ago – your photos bring so many wonderful memories. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the castle – by the time we crossed the causeway, they stopped selling tickets 😢But at least we had a chance to walk through partially flooded causeway which was a fantastic experience (well, in late May and wearing flip flops at least – right now the water would be too cold)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading this post and that it brought back some happy memories for you. What a shame that you arrived too late to visit the castle, but perhaps you might get an opportunity to go there again sometime. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jasonlikestotravel

    I haven’t explored much of the South West but looks like you visited some really interesting places. You packed a lot in to this day.
    I’m also surprised how much St. Michael’s Mount looks like its twin in France, had no idea this place existed in England – very interesting 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Have you been to Mont.St.Michel Jason? I’ve not been there yet but it’s equivalent in Cornwall is beautiful even on a dreary day. Being October and not the half term holiday we managed to see a lot without it being overcrowded. I don’t know why I had neglected Cornwall in the past because I genuinely liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jasonlikestotravel

        Not yet but I’m obviously more familiar with it haha.
        I think Cornwall just feels so far away, probably moreso for you, so it’s easy to neglect I guess. I’ve only seen bits of Devon and Bristol but not much else down that way.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I love this part of Cornwall and I have enjoyed some fabulous walking breaks in the area. I have visited Mont St Michel several times and I think I prefer the Cornish version! The one in Brittany is over-commercialised and very crowded in the tourist season. Either admire from a distance or go out of season would be my advice!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Despite the poor weather at the start of the day we had a lovely time visiting St.Michael’s Mount and Penzance and being out of season it wasn’t too busy. Thanks June for your welcome thoughts. I hope your weekend is going well, the lengthening days are very welcome. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  6. LifeinaCircle

    Such a lovely place, there is so much to see in this beautiful world, one life is not enough. Thankyou for such an elaborate description, it felt as if I was experiencing it myself. Personally I always love everything about castles. K hope I will get to visit someday.. beautiful ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Visiting St.Michael’s Mount is a stunning experience especially walking across the causeway to reach it. Hopefully you will be able to visit for your self one day, that would be nice! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Like

  7. What an amazing neck of the woods to explore. Looks so much like Mont Saint Michel in France. In fact, at first I thought that’t where it was! As one of the most beautiful areas of England, Cornwall is definitely on my UK to-do list.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pingback: Day 2. St. Michael’s Mount & Penzance — Love Travelling Blog

  9. Wow, St. Michael’s Mount looks like a fun place to explore. I bet it looks incredible during the sunset/sunrise hours! So far, I’ve only visited Mont-Saint-Michel and it’s amazing how similar they look, but for sheer grandeur, its French cousin is difficult to beat. Although I very much love St Michael’s Mount location – Cornwall is the most beautiful part of the UK with a plethora of beautiful views and stunning vistas. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. St.Michael’s Mount was a fascinating place to visit Aiva even though the weather wasn’t at its best. Sometime I’d also like to visit its French counterpart too. Thanks for your welcome thoughts and I hope your week is progressing well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

    1. However much planning goes into a trip, the one thing that we can’t guarantee is the weather, but we still enjoyed our visit and I hope you also get to visit St. Michael’s Mount one day, I’m sure you will Andy. Marion

      Like

  10. I look forward to these daily tours with you. Always something of interest and the pictures give us all those visuals you enjoy on a personal tour. I trust you are producing these in books for sale as your descriptions are top class.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Sallyann, Thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m glad this post brought back fond memories for you. Yes, we also visited the church and admired its beautiful windows. I’ll be featuring Falmouth later in the series so hopefully you will enjoy that too! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It always seems magical to be able to walk across a causeway to a castle or a lighthouse, Marion. We never made it to St. Michael’s Mount but visiting St Mary’s lighthouse in Whitley Bay, or Lindisfarne is not dissimilar. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  12. What a fabulous little island, Marion. We were so close to this area on our 1977 honeymoon, but turned across the peninsula at Plymouth and went across to Tintagel. Now, we must come back. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 5 people

    1. What fond memories you must have of Devon and Cornwall Allan. St. Michael’s Mount is fascinating and I hope you get an opportunity to visit sometime. Later on in this series I’ll actually be featuring Tintagel so hopefully you will enjoy that too.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Always wanted to visit St Michaels Mount but never made it, looks fascinating and so picturesque. Cornwall is packed with so much history isn’t it? So much to see and do, just gets a little busy in summer but thats easy to avoid. Great photos.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. I would love to walk on those Pilgrims’ steps at St. Michael’s Mount – can you image how many people have used these steps before 😲.
    Mousehole is such a funny name (but it is definitely picturesque as one can see from your photo’s) … I even liked the look of Penzance! So many beautiful towns to visit on one day!
    Oh, and looking forward having a virtual Cornish pasty on your Cornwall tour ☺️.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It was a splendid guest day exploring Cornwall and despite the poor weather, St. Michael’s Mount was so interesting. Mousehole is such a pretty place and definitely lives up to its delightful name, doesn’t it! Thanks so much for your welcome thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I got very fit in Cornwall, Marion, when I was there in 2016. Virtually everywhere I went I had to climb almost perpendicular streets. I wasn’t mad on Penzance, I have to say. It looked rather run down to me, though maybe they’ve given it a spruce up since.

    Liked by 8 people

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