Cornwall, Part II: St. Michael’s Mount and the Minack Theatre

Back to Cornwall!  We woke up on our first morning ready to do some sightseeing – after tea, of course.  We knew that we wanted to go to St. Michael’s Mount, a historic monastery that became a family home for many generations, which is set on a hill in the middle of a small cove.  When the tide is out, you can walk to the “island” via a stone causeway… but beware the tide coming in while you’re on the island!  You might find yourself swimming back to the mainland.

We walked over the causeway and yes, we did manage to make it back to shore before the tide came in.  But not before checking out the inside of the castle (which boasted ancient weapons, stained glass, a family chapel and a snapshot of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall posing with the family on a visit a few years ago)…

We checked out the beautiful gardens.  Cornwall is almost a unique climate in England – much warmer than the rest of the country, and we even saw palm trees!  That’s right, palm trees in England.  Wonders never cease!  The gardens at St. Michael’s Mount were lovely and well-tended.

We finished our morning at St. Michael’s Mount by climbing up to the top of the castle and checking out the view.  Hubby was impressed by the defensibility of the castle and all the cannons.  I liked the spare, elegant black-and-white Cornish flag and the views out to sea.

On our way to our next destination, we made a quick stop at the Merry Maidens stone circle.  We’re turning into stone circle afficianados, apparently – what with visiting Castlerigg up in the Lake District in 2008, and Avebury and Stonehenge already on this trip.  And I swear I saw a mini stone circle in Easton Cross the night before our Dartmoor hike, outside a nursery school.  (Do English children play with stone circles the way American children play with teepees?  This fascinates me.)

Next we hit the Minack Theatre, which came highly recommended by our B&Bers.  (We mostly just did what they told us to do for our three days in Cornwall and it worked out beautifully.  Atlantic Heights B&B, if you’re ever in Cornwall – I can’t say enough good things about them!)  The Minack Theatre is situated above Porthcurno Beach, a stunning white-sand cove.  We arrived as the sun was breaking through the clouds and setting up a glorious afternoon, and we discovered that the sea in Cornwall is Caribbean blue.  I was expecting steely grey and instead found this.  Perfection.

The landscapers had planted the theatre with a bevy of blossoms, but I was particularly fascinated by these cacti that looked like roses.  Anyone know what they are?  I so want a cactus rosebush for my backyard.

You must be wondering about this theatre.  A few decades ago, a local theatre maven decided to build a theatre into the side of a cliff.  For realses.  They perform mostly Shakespeare in this outdoor space, although they do a few other plays as well.  Can you imagine seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a sparkling Cornish evening from one of these seats, overlooking Porthcurno?  And now I will proceed to spend the rest of my life plotting ways to make that dream happen.

Carved into the “seats” are names of plays that the theatre has seen.  Plenty of Shakespeare, as you can see, but plenty else to tempt a hopeless theatre junkie like me!  (Sadly, it was the off-season, so there were no plays to be seen.)

Lastly, a view of the stage.  Is this not the most ravishing “backstage” you’ve ever seen?  I hopped up onstage and recited a little bit of Helena’s “O Spite” monologue from Midsummer.  (Took second place for me in my high school’s Shakespeare competition.)  Oh, yes, I am so dying to get back there to see a performance!

Stay tuned next Friday, because there are more Cornish explorations to come!

8 thoughts on “Cornwall, Part II: St. Michael’s Mount and the Minack Theatre

  1. Pingback: Preserving Vacation Memories « Covered In Flour

  2. Hi Jaclyn – I know I am deep in the archives, so you probably figured this out years ago, but your rose cactus is a succulent commonly known as “hen and chicks.” You could totally grow it in your backyard! I found your blog recently looking for Adirondack high peak trip reports; I love hiking and am a fellow long-term aspiring 46er. I also love reading and travel, so naturally I have stuck around! St. Michael’s Mount has been on my list for years, but haven’t made it yet despite two trips to France. Someday…

    • Hi Sara! It’s nice to meet you – I’m glad you found your way here, and I look forward to checking out your blog! I had actually not figured out what the succulent was, but now I’m going to scurry off to see if I can get it, because I still think it is SO gorgeous (and I love succulents, cacti, and desert/warm weather plants in general). Thanks for the tip and the comment, and I hope to get to know you better!

  3. OK, I just realized the apparent ignorance in my comment re: St. Michael’s Mount vs. Mont Saint-Michel. BOTH are on my travel wishlist and I was a little too distracted while typing there – ignore the reference to France, please! I know you were in Cornwall, because I’d just read several other posts, and would very much like to go there. Coast path? Yes, please! What an embarrassing way of introducing myself… sigh.

    Let me try again: hello, there! I enjoy your blog. Ah, that’s better.

    • Haha, don’t worry about it at all! My brain auto-corrected your France reference and I would actually probably not have realized anything was amiss. (Such is life with an insane work schedule, a preschooler and a toddler. I am perpetually sleep-deprived and foggy.) Anyway, I’ll just pretend you said England! And yeah, that Coast Path is gooooooooorgeous. It’s a major someday-dream of mine to thru-hike the entire 600-ish mile trail. I don’t have thru-hiking aspirations for the Appalachian Trail, the PCT or any of the other popular ones, but the South West Coast Path – YAS.

      So – hello! I’m glad you’re here. 🙂

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