Wednesday 15th September 2021
Land’s End is undoubtedly beautiful but the site is also unashamedly commercial. As well as the spectacular craggy rocks, breaking waves and uninterrupted views there is a signpost giving the distances to New York and John O’Groats. During the day there is a man offering, for a price, personalised photo opportunities which include the date and individual messages on two extra panels.
Before breakfast we seized the opportunity to avoid the queue and take a free photo at the Lands End signpost before the man reappeared.
We had booked entry tickets to St Micheal’s Mount for 11:00. Usually a boat trip is to be anticipated and enjoyed but we found were a little disappointed that on the day of our visit we would not be able to walk The Causeway in either direction due to the tides.
On the way over it seemed to be “Take your Dog to work Day”: a very chilled spaniel was supervising the crossing.
The trip across to the little harbour is brief and a metal footprint at the top of the steps up to the quay marks the spot where Queen Victoria first set foot upon the island in 1846.
St Michael’s Mount has been inhabited for over three thousand years and for more than three centuries it was controlled by the Abbey of Mont-St-Michel in Normandy, responsible for the earliest surviving buildings which were started in 1135.
From the harbour, we walked up to the castle: looking back towards the mainland, the submerged path of The Causeway is clearly visible.
As a tidal island, St Michael’s Mount makes an excellent fortress and we passed the historic gun batteries near the Summit.
Although the site is managed by the National Trust the St Aubyn family still live in the castle itself.
Consequently, the rooms inside seem very welcoming and cosy.
The hall is known as the Chevy Chase
A short narrow gauge railway was built underground around 1900 to transport goods up to the castle and rubbish back down. Although still operational, much to Robert’s disappointment, the gradient is deemed to be too steep for passengers to use. It is Britain’s last operational 4foot 6inch railway and a short section is visible at the harbour.
The gardens were not open on the day we visited but, as they have been designed, at least in part, to be seen from above, we could enjoy the views of the terraces from the ramparts.
While we were there Robert calculated that, as Matilda is now classed as a senior, it would be worth buying her the present of life membership of the National Trust. As a life member you can take a friend in with you so this would give us both entry to many lovely sites and properties. Unfortunately, the gentleman from the National Trust could not process this payment and advised us to go to Godolphin.
Once at Godolphin we filled in the form for life membership and Robert asked whether it would be possible for him to “gift aid” the tax. This request required some investigation and we strolled off to have a brief look at the grounds whilst enquiries were made.
Godolphin is an estate with a medieval garden and a historic house, which unfortunately was not open. although the colonnaded north range gives a sense of how impressive it must have originally been before it became a tenant farm holding.
The enclosed King’s Garden includes the King’s House in one corner.
It is rumoured that in 1646 the future King Charles II, then the Prince of Wales, stayed here the night before he sailed to the Isles of Scilly to escape the advancing Parliamentarian forces, but apparently St Micheal’s Mount and a house in Marazion also make this claim.
There are several bee boles and unusual bee skeps in the King’s Garden: the boles are recesses, positioned in the warm south facing wall and the skeps are woven bee hives.
Unfortunately, no answer was as yet forthcoming about the gift aid and it was agreed that Robert would call to discuss the matter with head office.
Now in possession of a piece of paper proclaiming life membership of the National Trust we set off for Fowey where we were staying for the night with Matilda searching for places we could visit on our journey the following day which did not require pre-booking.
In Fowey, we had our hotel terrace almost to ourselves as non-residents were not allowed to enjoy this lovely harbour side spot. We made good use of it.