Britain at its best: Savouring our very own Mont-Saint-Michel – a castle-crowned tidal island of craggy slate and granite that rears 200ft out of the Atlantic off the Cornish coast
St Michael’s Mount along the Cornish coast is uncannily similar to its twin in Normandy, Mont-Saint-Michel The St Aubyns have lived in the island’s historic castle since 1660 – visitors can book online for a tour Sub-tropical plants, which would struggle to survive anywhere else in Britain, cling to the castle’s slopes
From Cudden Point headland, a couple of miles along the Cornish coast, St Michael’s Mount looks like a truly forbidding fortress.
But from the seafront of the small town of Marazion opposite, it somehow softens into pure fairytale. Rapunzel might have let down her tresses from one of the turrets.
The tidal island is uncannily similar to its twin in Normandy, Mont-Saint-Michel, from where Benedictine monks first arrived in 1044. It has been secular since the English Civil War, when it was held by Royalists as one of their last strongholds against Roundhead forces. Since then it has been a rather unusual family home.
Historic: ‘St Michael’s Mount looks like a truly forbidding fortress’, writes The Daily Mail’s Martin Symington
The St Aubyns have lived in the island’s historic castle since 1660. James St Aubyn (aka Baron St Levan) and his wife Mary occupy a private apartment in the castle
The castle-crowned tidal island of craggy slate and granite rears some 200ft out of the Atlantic. For approximately two hours either side of high tide, waves roll in over a causeway, disconnecting mount from mainland.
While I wait for the waters to ebb, I let my senses drift over the centuries to legends of St Michael, from fishermen to the plainchant of long-banished monks. Then I catch a glimpse of a man walking on water. At least, that’s what it looks like. The figure is followed by a string of other souls as they trot from Marazion to the island.
Soon it is my turn to stroll the few hundred yards across the cobbled causeway. Since reopening after lockdown there have been no passenger boats, so visits are restricted to the four hours around low tide when the causeway is uncovered. Tickets to tour the castle and visit the gardens must be bought in advance online.
A steep path leads up to the castle, which is a jumble of periods and styles. The St Aubyns have lived in the castle since 1660. James St Aubyn (aka Baron St Levan) and his wife Mary occupy a private apartment in the castle.