Giants and Saints of St. Michael’s Mount

On an April noon when an army of clouds invaded the blue, blue sky and cast a black and silver sheen upon the landscape, we arrived in Marazion. Captivated by its name, the first time I visited it about four years ago, I fell in love with the ancient market town. You will see why, by and by.

Before I gather steam, here’s a brief note. If you are in Mousehole, Marazion is just a few miles away.

Now Marazion has a ringside view of a fairy-tale island that juts out of the Celtic Sea – St. Michael’s Mount (the silhouetted rocky outcrop you see above). The tidal island is a sister counterpart of St. Mont Michel in France. In the 11th century, it had even been ceded to the Benedictine order of St. Mont Michel, till in the 14th century, it became the property of an abbess in Middlesex.

Getting on with the title, many moons ago, a giant by the name of Cormoran (you will remember Robert Galbraith’s gruff detective has the same moniker) lived upon the island. When he got hungry, the cattle of Marazion were his meal. He was 18 ft. tall and his girth spanned a humble figure of three yards, so crossing the causeway was no big feat for our beef-loving giant. He became a blasted curse upon the town. Who should pop up to be the hero of this town? Jack the Giant-Killer of our childhood stories. He is Cornish, yessir, and he lived in Marazion. Our notable Jack not only killed the giant, but he also went on to slay many more giants, was appointed a Knight of the Round Table by King Arthur. He clearly had Cormoran to thank for his glories, eh?

Now ye of deep faith, you might want to put St. Michael’s Mount on your list of pilgrimage. Sailors on the sea from the 5th century have maintained that a saint appeared on the island to guide them to safety from alluring mermaids and storms. This was the patron saint of fishermen, the archangel St Michael, who is supposed to have delivered a few miracles during the 13th century.

I crossed over the causeway four years ago, leaving behind Adi in the car at Marazion to sleep off his tiredness for a chunky hour or so. The tide was low and I felt like I was in a dream, walking across the granite cobbles of the causeway, as the waters swirled in and out in a hypnotic rhythm, to a fairy-tale castle upon a tidal island.

Bells tolled in the old priory and apart from the cawing of a few seagulls, the island was quite deserted. The castle loomed high above the few stone cottages, home to the staff who work in the castle. Entry to the castle however was closed because it was a Saturday. I spent my time, treading through the alleys in the island, exploring the charm of the cottages clustered around it, sitting on the pier and watching the boats crossing to and from Marazion. I did not have the privilege of meeting either the giant or the saint. My wuss-y heart, I fear, would not have been able to bear the glorious sight of both.

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The tidal island looms up across the waters from Marazion. You cannot spot the causeway in this photo because it was high tide when we landed up there this time.
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This is how the man-made granite causeway looks during low tide. A photo from four years ago when I crossed it to explore St. Michael’s Mount.
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The worker’s cottages and the castle above on St. Michael’s Mount.
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Castle entrances. There are three pillboxes upon the island which are a reference to WWII when the island was fortified.
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Nazi foreign minister, Ribbentrop, had plans to live on the island after German plans for the conquest of Britain were successful. He was a frequent visitor to Cornwall.
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The castle has been the home of the St. Aubyn family since the 1650s. One of their descendants, known as the Lords of St. Levan, donated it to the National Trust in 1954 but it remains the family seat for a period of 999 years.
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Now walk into the ancient market town of Marazion.
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The town hall (with the red pipings) of Marghasyewe, as the town was deemed in the Cornish language.
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Narrow winding streets in Marazion.
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On a nippy noon, step into the King’s Arms for a pint of good Cornish ale.
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And a pile of onion rings. All eyes were on our table.
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Spot the cocker spaniel?
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Let me make it easier. Now do you see the cute spaniel watching life go by beneath him?

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Getting to St. Michael’s Mount:

Barring Saturday, it is open all other days. Cross the causeway on foot during low tide or take a boat from Marazion to the island for the fares of £2.00 for adults and £1.00 for children.

Entering the Castle: 

Tickets cost 9.50 quid for an adult, garden entry is priced at 7. A combined ticket costs 14 quid. If you are a National Trust member, you get in free. Timings: 10.30am-5pm.

Where to Stay:

The Godolphin Arms (www.godolphinarms.co.uk) offer standard double rooms at about £160 per night on bed & breakfast basis. Some offer spectacular views of St. Michael’s Mount.

Rosario (www.rosario-marazion.co.uk), a bed & breakfast in Marazion, with views of the sea too, offers more modest prices at £90 per night.

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71 thoughts on “Giants and Saints of St. Michael’s Mount

  1. Wow, absolutely beautiful pictures. I do have to make one correction though. After being stuck watching tv with the little ones, I have it on the good authority of Walt Disney that a Mickey Mouse was the giant slayer. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh no no, the Cornishman/woman shall take grave insult to being placed second to Mr. Disney. They shall whisk you to Arthur’s Round Table to prove their point, (if you do not mind a bit of time travel and leaving Mickey behind).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will gladly trade Mickey for some time travel! Hmmm, I am now concocting a plan to challenge the Cornish people in history, and in my inevitable loss, I win an all expenses paid trip. My only request that I can keep in touch with the family–they had Skype back in the 500s, right??

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      2. Ha! I guess it is asking a lot (especially as it must have still been regular dial-up back then). 😛 I think the boys would be glad for a little trip into beautiful countryside. Give them some space to run and life is good. Throw in swords and knights, and they might mistake it for heaven.

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      3. You will get plenty of those in Cornwall. In Tintagel, which is where Arthur’s castle is ;), you get swords and all kinds of arms aplenty that can only appeal to little boys. While their mother and father down neat proportions of mead and watch the sons battle away. The flaming evening sun in the backdrop…are you there yet?

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  2. I have read about that causeway. Tourists who are not mindful of the tidal charts are caught and swept out to sea. Not unlike WhiteRock, British Columbia along the American border. You can walk for many kilometres on the ocean bed, searching for jellyfish, when the tide is out – just don’t get caught when it insidiously sneaks back in 🙂

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      1. She almost went to Falmouth for her Fine Arts degree (went to Liverpool instead) but is threatening to do a Masters in Cornwall to make up for it … watch this space 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well I’ve never been to Cornwall, and didn’t really have any desire to go, but I think I rather fancy a trip there now. Thank you so much for this beautifully illustrated and interesting guide. I have been to Mont Saint Michel in France a few times but it was never quiet! Teamed with tourists snaking their way up the narrow streets lined with gift shops from what I remember! I found it more magical from the other side of the causeway!!

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    1. Ah, it often so happens that what we fancy turns out to be a disappointment as/when we get there. I am happy to say it was not so the case with Mont Saint Michel’s sister in Cornwall. The island is quiet and will do things for your imagination. If you do end up visiting Cornwall, you will pat yourself on the back.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was sitting around enjoying the photos of this charming place, and then you show a huge photo of a tower of onion rings! I’m having breakfast right now, but now I want onion rings. To be specific, the onion rings in your photo 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Miriam 🙂 He is. Isn’t he darned cute? Our dog, Tuktuk, used to be the same. He used to sit in a balcony for hours and watch life unfold beneath him, and once in a while, his ears used to perk up – then he would tilt his head curiously in the adorable way that most labradors have. I used to love watching him watch the world.

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  5. I definitely hate tourist traps and it’s nice to know that this isn’t one of them. The photo of the path leading to the island is perfect for giving us the feel of standing in that spot. Also, I don’t know which I like more: the onion rings or the photo itself. That image needs to be in a food magazine somewhere! Thanks for another beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So beautiful place. It seems like you cought the right time when there weren’t so many tourists!
    But am I the only one who is not that into those onion rings? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This caught my attention. Mont Saint Michel has been on my list since I was a little girl and saw a photo in National Geographic (I think I have used this line many times, but it’s so true). It really does look like something out of a fairytale. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is okay to use a line one too many times. It just emphasises our feelings and I hope you get to Mont Saint Michel soon! Though a blogger who commented on this post earlier noted that it can be quite crowded. The good thing about St. Michael’s Mount is that it is quite deserted unless you get there in June when a few tourists would make their way across to the island. And thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d rather not be accompanied by bloodsucking gnats, you see, so preparation is key. You will see me treading such ground only with war paint on and armed with bug spray in each hand

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