Situated just 400 yards off Mount’s Bay in Marazion, St Michael’s Mount is an iconic Cornish landmark and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South West.
Striding the causeway, or crossing by boat. Treading medieval pathways or exploring tropical gardens. Discover a castle, a sub-tropical garden paradise and a close-knit island community, home to the St Aubyn family and thirty island residents. From ancient cobbles to castle walls, through time and tide St Michael’s Mount is beckoning.
2016 will see some exciting developments as the season unfolds! The Sail Loft restaurant, based in the island’s old sail loft on the fringe of the village, has undergone a complete transformation and reopens as a light, airy and must-visit eatery – fully licensed and serving delicious light lunches, home-made breads and cakes as well as fresh fish specials, using the best local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. From handpicked crab landed fresh across the bay, to local cheeses and homemade chutneys the menu and location makes The Sail Loft a very special place to meet friends or enjoy a family get-together.
In partnership with the National Trust we are currently planning, designing and building a visitor centre. This brand new facility will be situated in The Barge House in the heart of the village at the base of the island and will be the focal point for all of our visitors. In particular, it will provide an experience for visitors that are unable to take the climb to the castle, or around the gardens.
The centre piece of the visitor centre is to be a tactile model of the island. This will enable all our visitors to gain an understanding and appreciation of the island, its scale and intricacies and the visitor’s position in relation to the island as a whole. Using the data provided by a recent 3d survey of the island, and working with local sculptor Tom Leaper, the model will be an accurate representation of St Michael’s Mount which visitors can touch, feel, and explore with their hands and eyes. The model will sit on a plinth at height comfortable for those standing but which will enable wheelchair users to get close enough to touch and experience the model. The material will ensure it is durable enough for the hundreds of thousands of hands that will touch and explore it every year. The Barge House will open mid-May 2016.
2016 Events: This season we focus on A Coastal Garden (from April), our unique Island Community in Island Harbour Home and our Castle and Conservation.
Over the coming months, the island will come alive with activity, kicking off with the annual Easter Egg Trail on 25, 27 and 28 March. Enjoy a host of Easter festivities on The Mount, including Cornish story-telling from The Story Republic and our traditional hunt for delicious chocolate treats around the village and harbour. Or Get Crafty – our creation station will be brimming with art and craft activities to get your creative juices flowing, or have your face painted! The Egg Trail is £2 per child.
A Coastal Garden (from 11 April to 1 July) will focus on the challenges of seaside gardening, with Head Gardener Lottie Allen and her team on hand daily at 1pm (weekdays only) to introduce the unique terraced gardens, where abundant blooms and exotic plants have thrived since 1780. Breathe in the sea air, scented with springtime blossom or summer herbs. Peer from the battlements at the garden terraces stepping down to sea. For many of our visitors it is astonishing that a garden exists here, but despite the gales and salty winds, the Gulf Stream tempers the climate so that frosts are a rarity and the rock acts as a gigantic radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a micro climate in which all sorts of unlikely plants flourish. Why not find out more?
The National Garden Scheme Open Day falls on Sunday 5 June, with a rare chance to visit the gardens during the weekend. We have long been part of the NGS and in support, on this day, we donate all proceeds to their nursing and caring charities. Since its foundation, the National Gardens Scheme has donated over £42.5 million to nominated beneficiaries, of which nearly £23 million has been donated within the last ten years.
Island Harbour Home (June-August) will bring to life the story of the vibrant community living and working on the island. From the underground tram which carries supplies for the castle from the mainland to the boats carrying and fetching the island children to and from school, Island Harbour Home will highlight the many aspects of St Michael’s Mount that make the iconic tidal island so unique.
Boats Ahoy! We’ll also be focusing on our very special flotilla – including the Ceremonial Barge, thought to be the oldest boat still sailing anywhere in the world. Built in St Mawes, on the Roseland Peninsula, in about 1740 for Sir John St Aubyn, she’ll be moored in the harbour for all to enjoy. The Barge will be joined by our Amphicraft, ‘St Michael’, which carried HRH Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to the Mount in 2013, and our World War II Duck, as well as our Ferry Boats, our lifeline to the mainland.
Free, daily tours of the village and the harbour led by Head Guide Bob Hunt, will focus on the community and the everyday lives of the people that live here as well as showcasing the historical harbour and village. Bob moved to the Island thirty years ago with his family and as Head Guide for over 20 years, he has an unrivalled knowledge of the history of The Mount.
Autumn will see the focus switch to Castle and Conservation (September and October) when we will be highlighting the challenges that present themselves when caring for a Grade 1 listed building atop a tidal island!
There are a host of menaces threatening The Mount and Castle and Conservation will spotlight its close encounters with the agents of deterioration. We will be meeting the team responsible for the tough and ongoing job of preserving it and the collections within it for future generations. From glass to cloth, from metal to wood – each element has a defined conservation plan and visitors will have the opportunity to see the team at work.
The season will end with A Garden in a Castle l (2-11 October) which will bring the glories of the Mount’s subtropical autumn planting into the castle itself, curated by our gardening team.
Explore the unexpected at The Mount… By foot or by boat? At low tide, the causeway appears from the sea and you can reach St Michael’s Mount by foot, following in the footsteps of giants and pilgrims. Setting out from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms, it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobble causeway which stretches from the mainland to the island. When the tide floods in, boats ferry visitors across the water to the island. At high tide during spring, summer and autumn, frequent motorboats leave from landing points along the shore at Marazion for the Mount’s ancient harbour.
Discover the castle. Climb the cobbled pathway up to the island’s summit and discover its changing faces. Bronze age settlers, monks, pilgrims and soldiers have all left their mark on the Mount.
Stoop through ancient doorways and glimpse the castle’s changing faces – from priory to fort, iconic castle to family home. Wander century-old corridors and unravel the history of the St Aubyn family, who have lived here since the 17th century. Discover treasures from the Mount’s past, from religious roots to times of siege and conflict.
While the National Trust now ensures the preservation and conservation of the Mount, the St Aubyn family continue to manage the island, as they have done since the middle of the 17th century. This unique partnership preserves the astonishing legacy built up since the island’s earliest known inhabitants during the Bronze Age.
The subtropical gardens. Weave through garden terraces bursting with colour. Breathe in the sea air, scented with springtime blossom or summer herbs. Peer from the battlements at the garden terraces stepping down to sea.
For kids. A hunt for a giant’s stone heart, the armour of a samurai warrior, a mummified cat and a real life castle waiting to be discovered. Watch young minds race as the island guides tell tales of history, legend and a living, breathing island. Take the castle quiz as a family and let the little ones’ curiosity engage them, as they learn what makes this castle so special.
Tickets/Opening Times: St Michael’s Mount castle, shops and restaurants are open daily (except Saturdays) from 13 March until 30 October 2016
You can walk to the island at low tide and there are also boat crossings (subject to weather).
Due to their fragility, the lush sub-tropical gardens have restricted opening times and are open between 11 April and 30 September.
Please check www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk for details.