St Michael's Mount | The Best National Trust Castle in Cornwall

St Michael's Mount  | The Best National Trust Castle in Cornwall

St Michael's Mount reminds me of our own Holy Island. Like it's Northumberland counterpart, the island is cut off from the mainland twice per day, is full of history and there's a bit of a climb up to the island's castle. Holy Island is one of my favourite places in the world and I knew that I had to visit St Michael's Mount during our trip to Cornwall and see how the two compared. 

We visited on a breezy overcast day in February Half Term. The Castle is not open all of the time during winter so always check opening (and tide) times via their website before you set off. Luckily for us, they do open their doors during the school holidays. The island is free to visit for all and unlike Holy Island, is just a short walk along the causeway. If you'd like to visit the Castle, there is a charge or it's free for National Trust members like us.

I loved that as soon as you stepped onto the island, somebody greets you and points out where you can visit and points of interest. There are free island tours throughout the day which did sound good. We actually stood around waiting for one to start for 10 minutes though and nobody showed up so that was a bit of a waste of time. It is said that 35 people still live on the island and I'd have loved to have learned more about their life here. 

The island is beautiful. It does feel a touch more commercialised than Holy Island and is a lot smaller but is still magical. There are a couple of gift shops, an island cafe and bistro and a nice harbour to walk around. One thing I love about St Michael's Mount is that when the tide comes in, you can catch an amphibious vehicle back to the mainland for a couple of £. This does sound like fun and we did plan to do this but then I over-estimated how long we'd be on the island and after we'd seen everything we still had 2 hours before the first boat was going to leave so we decided to save this for our next visit. If I was to visit again, I'd advise walking across just before the tide comes in, exploring the island and then catching the boat back.

To somebody who isn't the fittest, the climb up to the castle did look a little daunting. We showed our National Trust cards and started the climb hoping we'd make it to the top. I didn't need to worry though as the climb was fine and not too strenuous at all. I think you might struggle with a pushchair in parts (as it is a little rocky) so I'd advise a sling or baby carrier if you're visiting with little ones. There are plenty of places to stop and admire the view if you need a little breather.

The castle is surrounded by myths and legends from mermaids to giants and we loved searching for the giant's heart half way up. You can check out the full story here. 

We finally made it to the castle door and there were cheers all round. Although the climb wasn't too difficult, we did feel accomplished. A lovely guide greeted us at the entrance and encouraged the children to look out for their favourite object in the castle and they'd be rewarded at the end.

The furnished castle is in fantastic condition and a complete joy to walk around. It kind of reminded me of a smaller version of Bamburgh Castle. Legend says that the castle was built by a giant known as Cormoran and I have to say this seems very likely as what a feat of engineering it is! 

The views from the castle along the Cornish coast and out to sea are spectacular. You feel as if you are on top of the world.

After our self-guided castle tour, the children were asked to share their favourite castle object and received a medal in return. I'm kind of jealous and wouldn't have minded one myself. What a lovely reminder of our day here and all completely free.

Castle climbing is hard work so we made our way back down to the island and popped into the Sail Loft bistro. It was super busy in here but we managed to find a table. The chef here is a keen forgager and tries to keep things local - Steve and I enjoyed some local seafood and cheeses and the kids ordered little packed lunches. Considering the quality, the food here was very good value and I'd recommend popping by. Alternatively, there are some picnic tables on the island if you'd like to bring your own snacks and there's a cafe too.

After lunch, we did wait around for the island tour as mentioned above but that didn't happen so we decided to walk back over to the mainland instead. I think we spend around 4 hours on the island altogether which is the perfect amount of time to set aside. In the warmer months, you can visit the gardens too which look beautiful.

To my surprise, parking on the mainland across from St Michael's Mount is completely free in winter. I think there's a small fee from mid-March. The car park is large, right by the beach and there are public loos and this fantastic play park next door. I bet it's lovely to visit here in summer. H, H and J loved burning off some of their energy at the park before we headed back to the car for the next leg of our journey.

I obviously haven't visited all of the National Trust sites in Cornwall but St Michael's Mount really stands out for us and we really enjoyed our morning here. If you're National Trust members and take a picnic, it is a free day out with lots to fill in your time. I'll definitely not forget those castle views in a hurry and I'm so pleased we included a trip here in our mini-tour of Cornwall.
Have you ever visited? Would you like to? You can find out more about St Michael's Mount over on their website here. 

Interested in reading more about Cornwall? Check out my other Cornish posts below:

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St Michael's Mount  | The Best National Trust Castle in Cornwall



  1. Somewhere I've always wanted to go - along with Holy Island - but haven't yet made it to. Love this introduction to the island and it sounds as magical as I've always thought.

  2. LOL! I can't believe no one turned up to take the guided walk!

    I went once, but it was a fair few years ago and I think at the time I just really didn't appreciate it! I REALLY want to go back! I'm also so keen to tick some more National Trust places off my list this year, it's time to start adventuring outside of the North East!

  3. This is my absolute favourite day out in Cornwall. It looks like you had a great time! x


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