“People will walk across to the Mount all day and assume they will be able to walk home. The spectacle of hundreds of people realising that the path they walked over on is disappearing under several feet of water is very amusing.”

View of the Mount before the tide came in.
View of the Mount before the tide came in.

As my term in London winds down, I decided to take a short trip to Cornwall. I took an overnight bus out to Penzance and walked the three miles over to St. Michael’s Mount. Watching the weather change as I walked around the bay was fascinating – dark clouds roll in, and the whole atmosphere changes abruptly.

Just part of the steps up to the castle
Just part of the steps up to the castle
The path to the castle continues
The path to the castle continues

The Mount was built in the 12th century as a priory and now hosts a castle, the original priory church, and a small community. It rises out of the bay across from Penzance – it is accessible by boat all day and by a stone pedestrian causeway when the tide is out. There is a similar site off the coast of Normandy in France – Mont St. Michel. In fact, one of the families on my boat out to the Mount was French, and the dad told his adorable little girl (in French), “This is St. Michael’s Mount,” to which she replied incredulously, still in French, “in England?” The monks from Mont St. Michel founded the priory in Cornwall about 100 years after William’s conquest.

The castle from near the top
The castle from near the top

I took a boat over to the Mount, got my ticket to the castle and was a) commended on my sensible shoes, and b) warned of steep, uneven stairs by the woman taking the tickets. Well, she wasn’t kidding. The climb to the top of the Mount was no joke, but the views were a wonderful reward. The castle itself is quite lovely as well, but my favorite part was the priory church. It wasn’t very big, but you could sense the centuries of time and worship in this place.

Inside the priory church
Inside the priory church

The gardens on St. Michael’s Mount are also well-tended (because: England) and unique. I never thought I’d see palm trees in Great Britain, but here we are.

Title quote: John Dyer

Boats docked in the island's little harbour.
Boats docked in the island’s little harbour.
Another of the castle structures at the top of the Mount
Another of the castle structures at the top of the Mount
A cozy parlour in the castle
A cozy parlour in the castle
This hunting relief graces the Great Hall in the castle
This hunting relief graces the Great Hall in the castle
View from the top of the castle - you can see the causeway going off to the right in this shot, mostly covered by water.
View from the top of the castle – you can see the causeway going off to the right in this shot, mostly covered by water.
Another view from the top, mostly of the gardens on the Mount.
Another view from the top, mostly of the gardens on the Mount.

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