Tuesday, June 21, 2016

St. Michael's Mount

Up at reasonable hour, for a giant Cornish breakfast in our hotel.  Eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, beans and tomatos.  Sets one up nicely for the day.  Toured the ambitious century garden on the grounds before boarding the bus an heading off down one-lane roads to St. Michael’s Mount.  You will note that its name is suspiciously like Mont St. Michel in France.  That’s because it follows the same blueprint; accessible only at low tide, on a steeply peaked island just off the coast, and it was constructed about the same time by the Benedictines.

This one fell into the hands of the 15th Earl of Something-or-other, no doubt when Henry VIII confiscated Church lands and handed them out to his friends.  The walk to the island is tedious but flat, over uneven paving stones.  Once the island is reached and the ascent begun, the path degenerates into a dangerous amalgam of lumpy rocks, stones and sloping boulders.  Wonder how many people have been injured there…..  After a long and arduous climb over dangerous rocks, we arrive at the castle.  It is owned by some noble or other and is sparsely decorated with assorted prints on dark walls in medieval rooms.  Then, you must renegotiate the nervous-making path in descent mode.  Knowing what I know now, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t.

We plodded back to the mainland over the uneven pavers (spent the whole morning looking down at my feet to choose the safest route) and bought ourselves a Cornish Pasty for lunch at, what else?  A pasty shop.  The miniscule bakery had only steak or mince left, so we opted for steak, repaired to a nearby lookout with benches, and ate lunch while fighting off the seagulls.

Refreshed, we waited for the bus to pick us up (they couldn’t wait for us in the street near the route to the Mount, where they had dropped us off), re-embarked and set off for St. Ives.  En route, we stopped off at the only authenticated grave of a known Cornish Pirate.  These men would fool ships into sailing onto the rocks, strip out their cargo and sell it on to London agents.  Until they were eventually caught by the Sherriff and hung.  This particular one had reformed and lived to a ripe old age before rolling over.  The local priest declared “once a pirate, always a pirate” and refused to inter the body in his consecrated graveyard.  Undaunted, his rich relatives toured the area until they found a bribable priest and the pirate was laid to rest at last.  On one condition: he had to be buried face-down so that he couldn’t go to heave.

Then on to St. Ives, to the magnificent Tregenna Castle Hotel on a highland overlooking the sea.  Though there was still plenty of time for a walk down to St. Ives, we were far too tired to take advantage of the opportunity.  Instead, we put our feet up in our rooms for a while, emerging for a late Cornish Cream Tea in lieu of supper, before blogging and turning in for the night.

St. Michael's Mount at low tide

On the mount at the castle entry

On the ramparts

1 comment:

  1. Adele and I did almost exactly what you are doing back in '79 (when I was with the airlines...). Just reading about your exploits reminds me of the sleep-deprived fatigue we suffered for the first few days.... At least the food in Jolly Old is better now than when we visited... Enjoy!