Interview with Head Gardener, Darren Little

Darren Little, our Head Gardener and island resident, has been looking after the gardens during our closure and they are looking spectacular. We caught up with Darren to see what he has been doing to keep the gardens looking so beautiful, and highlights what plants to look out for during a Summer and Autumn visit . 

What have been the biggest challenges to maintaining the gardens during closure?

One of the biggest challenges for me was not to just maintaining the gardens, but the whole island. I was the only gardener working during lockdown as I live on the island. I would maintain the gardens then concentrate on other areas around the island. Once I got into a routine, I would literally be working around in a circle covering the majority of the island. The boating team assisted through this time cutting the grass around the Mount, so my time could be concentrated on the gardens.

Are there any new plants that we can see in the garden?

We have introduced a few more Agaves into the gardens on the higher levels, Agave Montana and Agave Ovatifolia. We have also mixed Geum Totally Tangerine with Salvia Nachtvlinder. In the West Terraces we have introduced some more plants to bring out that Mediterranean feel within the gardens. These plants include, Alstromeria ‘Indian Summer’, Anaphalis margaritaceae, Banksia blechnifolia, Cuphea Cyanea and Salvia ‘Clotted Cream’ .There are about twenty five new additions into the West Terraces and these names are just a few. Approximately 480 plants were planted just in the West Terraces alone. This spring there have been over 1500 plants planted on the island.

What are the plants to look out for during the summer? 

At the moment in the East Terraces the Geum Totally Tangerine is mixed with the Salvia Nachtvlinder. And as these are both flowering at the same time and are the same height, they are looking fantastic planted together. Also cascading down the walls are Drosanthemum bursting out in a light lilac.

The Alstromeria ‘Indian Summer’ in the West Terraces has been in flower since the end of April and will continue throughout the summer into October.

The Allium purple sensation and Allium ‘His Excellency’ are now starting to flower in the walled gardens and are nice and tall so they wave their heads above the mixed plantings. Also, the Phlomis russeliana is bursting into life with its whorls of hooded, soft yellow flowers. The Kniphofia ‘Sunningdale Yellow’ are standing proud over the mixed plantings.

 In July we will see the Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’ Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Carradona’ all flowering together in the middle wall garden. Visitors will also find Crocosmia ‘Paul’s Best Yellow’ starting to flower amongst the Phlomis and rudbeckia fulgida.

In the East Terraces there are Gazania Bicton orange and Gazania daybreak in large drifts with its full orange flower kept down low to the ground and Osteospermum Cannington Roy with light purple flowers also low. They both stand out in large drifts and are great to cover large areas of ground.

The Bulbine frutescens with its fiery orange flowers can be seen in the West Terraces also planted near the Tulbaghia purple eye, both long flowering, and bringing all year-round interest.

What are the plans for the summer in the garden?

When time allows the gardening team need to gain access onto the cliffs to remove the vegetation that is beginning to take hold. While the gardens have limited access, the team will be able to continue this throughout the summer. We have lots of plants in stock to plant out in the autumn once we have weeded the cliffs.

When will you cut the long grass?

On the island we leave some areas of grass to grow wild and long. These areas are peppered with wild flowers and are beneficial for wildlife. Long grass helps insects to thrive, creates feeding opportunities for birds, and shelters small mammals. Usually by July, these areas have self-seeded and are beginning to die back, and we will then cut them.

Do you water the plants in the gardens?   

We don’t water any of the plants in the gardens, unless they are newly planted to get them established. The majority of the plants come from South America, South Africa and around the Mediterranean basin. Those countries have hotter dryer conditions than we have. It’s easy to think that you need to water however, I’d advice to research the plants growing conditions before you commit to regular watering. 

Do you propagate your own plants?

We have a small glass house on the Mount where we can propagate some of the plants that go back into the gardens. We will take around 2000 cuttings a year of various plants and propagate in a mist bench, this gives us a chance to refresh any that are starting to show signs of deterioration, or want to extend into larger drifts. Some cuttings will be grown on for a few years until established and ready to go out, these will be mainly shrubs that will be used for hedging and shelter belts.

Do you have time to admire the gardens yourself?

As I live on the island I do walk around the gardens with my family during the evenings, this gives me time to view the gardens in a more relaxed way. Normally as you are working in the gardens you are head down concentrating on looking after the gardens, and tend to miss the beauty of them. When time allows, we do also go around the Mount in a boat to view the gardens from the sea. This gives me an ideal opportunity to see how we can view areas that require attention, whether it be ivy climbing up the castle walls to tall unbalanced shrubs that need reshaping.

Pretty Harbours in Cornwall

Born from a deeply entrenched relationship with the sea, Cornwall’s coast is peppered with harbours. Both natural and manmade, they grant access to bounty-rich waters, provide space for trade and shelter from ravaging storms. Tightly interwoven within Cornwall’s maritime history, these safe-havens have played a crucial role in the lives of salt-washed Cornishmen for years, from the days of piratical smugglers to modern-day fishermen still making a living from the sea.

These days, harbours remain an integral part of Cornish culture and also provide the perfect vantage points to sit and while away the hours, gazing at the sea. Gather up your gaggle and see for yourself. A great base for watery adventures as well as simply watching the to’ing and fro’ing of boats with ice cream in hand, you can take in the views and immerse yourself in the past, present and future of Cornwall.

Here are some of the pretty harbours in Cornwall you can look forward to seeing:

St Michael’s Mount

The history of St Michael’s Mount’s harbour is thought to date back to classical times. Believed to have been a focal point for trading in the tin industry more than 2,000 years ago, Cornish tin would have been transported from the island to the rest of Europe. There is also an underground tram that carries provisions from the harbour to the castle!

Mullion

First built in the late 1800s, Mullion Cove’s harbour protects fishing boats from powerful westerly storms rolling in from the Atlantic. Gifted to the National Trust by a local family, it is a veritable suntrap and perfect for soaking in the views of the sparkling sea.

Mousehole

The picture-postcard Mousehole harbour was the main port in Mounts Bay from the 13th to the 16th century before Penzance and Newlyn began to take over. Playing a major role in the pilchard fishing industry in the 20th century, Mousehole harbour is now best-known for its magical Christmas light display that takes place every year.

Coverack

Home to a quaint harbour sheltering a small fishing fleet, Coverack shows that good things come in small packages. Wander down to take advantage of the views and make use of the abundance of shops and cafes that sit within easy reach of the harbour itself.

Port Isaac

Overlooked by white-washed cottages and steeply sloping cliffs, Port Isaac harbour is awash with north coast charm. A thriving port from the Middle Ages to the mid-19th century, the harbour was used to import and export coal, wood, stone, ores, limestone, salt, pottery and other goods. These days, it is more popularly recognised for its role in the television series, Doc Martin.

Portscatho

Portscatho’s little harbour nestles into the eastern side of the Roseland peninsula and is home to fishing and day boats. For shell and sea glass hunters it is a particularly good place to visit at low tide as all the water recedes and the harbour dries out, leaving behind little treasures twinkling in the sun.

Polperro

A 13th-century fishing village, Polperro’s harbour was used by fishermen to catch pilchards when they were once in abundance. Later, in the 18th century, it became the haunt of smugglers who used to bring in contraband such as tea, gin, brandy and tobacco from Guernsey. Nowadays, it provides a scenic spot for a sunny afternoon stroll or bracing winter walk, before refuelling with a local Cornish cream tea.

Charlestown

Featured in BBC’s Poldark, Charlestown is a real time capsule. A Grade II listed harbour, it was originally built between 1791 and 1801 by Charles Rashleigh to export copper from local mines. These days, it is home to a fantastic fleet of tall ships and is regularly used as a location for films.

Mevagissey

Sharing a huge connection with the sea, Mevagissey was once one of the South West’s most successful fishing ports. Involving the whole community, locals all contributed to the harbour’s thriving fishing industry, taking up fishing, boat building, net making, sail making, blacksmithing, trading and more!

Porthleven

Porthleven is a picturesque village with an impossibly pretty harbour in Cornwall. Lined by restaurants and traditional pubs and boasting superb views, the harbour is a wonderful spot for a morning stroll or afternoon beer overlooking the water. It is also, coincidentally, one of the best places to enjoy storm watching in Cornwall too (from safe inside the pub, that is!). 

West Cornwall in spring

We all breathe a sigh of relief as those lighter evenings kick in during spring, and the world seems to come back to life again. Cornwall is busy and popular throughout the summer months, but there’s so much to enjoy here during the quieter months of spring, just as everything is coming out of hibernation.

St Michael’s Mount opens for the main season at the end of March, and the island comes back to life, bustling with day visitors making their way across the causeway or travelling by boat to visit our iconic visitor attraction.

There’s a wealth of other days out you can enjoy during these spring months as well.  Here are our top tips for things to enjoy during May in the west of Cornwall.

Bluebells at Penrose and Godolphin in May

The bluebells springing to life throughout May is a sight not to be missed, and there are two National Trust properties in nearby Helston to enjoy seeing a carpet of bluebells scattered throughout their woods.

Godolphin House and Garden are tucked away near Helston, and tell their story of over 700 years of history. Wander around the 16th-century garden before taking a walk through its bluebell wood.

Penrose estate is a mixture of woodland and farmland based near Loe Pool. There are many paths to explore around the estate, and the best time to see bluebells here is early May.

Spot the seal babies

Spring can be a great time for spotting some of our marine mammals. Dolphins, porpoises and grey seals swim off the coast of Cornwall throughout the year, but it becomes easier to spot them in calm seas and warmer weather – so spring is a great time to spot some of these marine mammals.

If you are very lucky, you may even spot seal pups – the best place locally to see the seal babies is Mutton Cove, just next to Godrevy. Alternatively, pay a visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, a local rescue sanctuary and visitor attraction tending to injured seal pups.

See the spring blooms at local gardens

See swathes of spring flowers coming to life at many of the gardens throughout Cornwall. One of the most beautiful places near us is Trengwainton, a National Trust garden, where you can enjoy snowdrops, camellias and magnolias during the spring months.

Walk the coastal path

The South West Coast Path is perhaps the UK’s ultimate challenge for the long-distance hiker - a 630-mile adventure around the coastline of the southwest peninsula. We are lucky enough to be right on the SWCP, and there’s stunning scenery to be found in our part of the world.

The South West Coast Path is just as good for short walks and gentle strolls as it is for long-distance walking, and the South West Coastal Path website has full details of the walks you can take. We’d particularly recommend Lamorna to Marazion, and Marazion to Porthleven – as both have sight of our wonderful St Michael’s Mount!

Enjoy dog walking on our beaches

Cornwall is a wonderful place to enjoy a holiday with your dog, but not all of our beaches are available for dog walkers throughout the summer months. Spring can be a brilliant time to enjoy the beaches of West Cornwall, as many more of them are accessible to dogs in the shoulder season.

For more information about which beaches are dog-friendly and what restrictions are in place, the Visit Cornwall and Dog-Friendly Cornwall website have the most up to date information.

Marazion Marsh Nature Reserve

Tread softly, move quietly and look all around, you never know what you might see. Cornwall’s largest reedbed, Marazion Marsh is the perfect place to glimpse some of the county’s most intriguing wildlife.

Only half a mile along the coast from us, Marazion Marsh takes in views of St Michael’s Mount and the bay. Actually making up part of St Michael’s Way walk (link), you can easily reach the marshes from the town or beach, or park your car along the side of the road nearby. Often overlooked by visitors and tourists alike, the site provides unfettered access to raw natural beauty and is definitely worth a visit, whether you are an avid bird-watcher or simply want to admire the scenery.

Free to the public Marazion Marsh is made up of wetland features, willow scrub and grassland, all protecting its precious reedbed. Home to a number of different wetland birds, it draws both resident and seasonal birds to the area, including some endangered species too. Looked after by the RSPB, the reserve is really important for conservation (a designated SSSI) and more than 250 bird, 500 plant, 500 insect and 18 mammal species have been recorded.

Featuring two viewing areas, you can rest a spell overlooking the sanctuary area pools and reedbeds along the seafront pavement, or head to the second viewing area facing the front of the reedbed. On sunny days, you can be forgiven for momentarily closing your eyes to soak in the sunshine, but make sure you don’t shut them for too long! Feathered bodies of all shapes and sizes zip and flutter around the reserve, although some are definitely more shy than others.

If you visit in spring, see if you can spot some of the marshes’ bitterns, and in summer keep your eyes peeled for the rare aquatic warblers. In autumn, spy egrets regally stalking through pools like prehistoric throwbacks and in winter try and catch the fantastic murmurations of starlings, twisting and dancing in the sky. With so much life, you can return to the marshes throughout the year and always find something fascinating to look at amongst the flooded planes and wiry reeds.

If you plan on visiting, we recommend a good pair of binoculars and a blanket and flask of hot tea for chillier days. Access is free, although a donation is welcomed at your discretion. Once you’ve sufficiently rosied your cheeks and are ready for more exploring, head back to Marazion or pop over and see us at the Mount for a different vantage point and a bite to eat. 

Michael Greig & The Post Boat

Built in Porthleven in 1961, commissioned by the Post Office, the Mount Post Boat was the official transport of all the mail to and from the island. Find out more about its past life and its recent restorations by Falmouth Marine School

Could you please tell us a little bit about the history of the post boat?

The Post Boat was named Susan, after a member of the St Aubyn family.

When was it built?

She was built in 1961 in Porthleven by Oliver’s Boatbuilders. It was commissioned and paid for by the Post Office to provide a means of transporting the post to and from St Michael’s Mount to Marazion. It is a West Country harbour boat – “punt”, suitable for one to three people to row.

Before this time there were two boats – for summer and winter.

When was it used?

It was used twice daily - six days a week and was dependent on the weather. The first post run to Marazion Post office was at 0700. The island Post Man, who was partly employed by the Post Office and St Aubyn Estate, would row the boat to Gwelva landing, which is situated directly below what was the Post Office. In those days the Post Man was also the Harbour Master, Church Warden and responsible for chopping kindling for every fireplace in the castle. During this time it was a man named John Mathews.

Boat rowing to St Michael's Mount

Associated postman Len Ritchie, who lived on the island. Circa 1988-1989.

What was it used for and how often?

People also rowed it for pleasure. Island residents used it and guests staying in the castle would take it out for a row from time to time. She was also used as a tender to row out to other boats in the harbour.

When was it decommissioned?

Strictly speaking, she has never officially been decommissioned! Sometime in the 1990s the decision was made for the post to be delivered by a post van when the tide was out, so there was no need for the post boat to be used for that purpose.

Are there any fun facts about the Post Boat?

She was used in the filming of King Arthur on St Michael’s Mount. For a particular scene, one of the Mount Boatman was asked to row the Post Boat across the harbour shrouded in smoke.

What was the motivation to have the boat restored?

The boat is an iconic part of St Michael’s Mount harbour and deserved to be restored to its former standard.

Who did the restoration?

Falmouth Marine School

Boat restoration at Falmouth Marine School

What was the process of the restoration?

She needed a complete overhaul and provided a fantastic project for the students. She is of wooden, clinker construction and various sections needed replacing, including parts of the keel and transom (the back of the boat). Also, five of the curved planks (clinkers) running laterally along the boat were partially rotted and needed replacing. This process involves heating the planks up in steam, increasing flexibility and allowing the boat builder to bend the plank to fit the shape of the hull.

Where can we see it now?

The Post Boat can be seen moored just off the wharf at the top of the harbour at St Michael’s Mount, next to our two rowing barges. 

Mike Greig, Head Boatman

Walk the Pilgrim route from Lelant to St Michael’s Mount

You may have heard of El Camino in Spain, the final section of the legendary Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Way. But did you know that part of the pilgrimage could be found here in Cornwall?

A vast network of trails in Europe leading to St James’ Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, northern Spain, El Camino is world famous. With roots dating back to pre-historic times between 10,000BC and 410AD, it has been followed by missionaries and pilgrims for thousands of years.

Of immense spiritual significance, St James’ Cathedral is believed to hold the remains of St James the Great, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, and has drawn millions of worshippers. These days, people of all denominations and faiths follow part or all of the trail to strengthen their faith, find peace, or to simply enjoy the walk.

With many branches of the Pilgrim route all over Europe, a lot of people don’t realise that Cornwall is home to part of the pilgrimage. Starting in Lelant near St Ives and finishing at our very own St Michael’s Mount, St Michael’s Way is a 12.5-mile walk stretching from coast to coast.

If you’d like to experience the walk for yourself, the route officially begins at St Uny Church. Nestled on a sandy headland, the church perches high above the medieval harbour town of Lelant, affording walkers with beautiful views over the Hayle Estuary. With origins dating back to the 6th century, St Uny Church has been nearly lost to encroaching sand twice in its lifetime. Make sure you pop inside before heading off and read about the local history.

Once you’re ready, your trail awaits. From St Uny Church, wander along the shell-marked path, passing Porth Kidney Sands along the stunning Cornish coast and arriving at Carbis Bay. A beautiful golden sand beach, Carbis Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a lovely spot to cool off your toes in the crystal-clear sea. Treat yourself to an ice cream, drink in the views and march on.

From Carbis Bay, St Michael’s Way heads inland. Cutting through rich, verdant countryside, St Michael’s Way is said to follow the route chosen by pilgrims arriving from Ireland and Wales. Choosing to walk from coast to coast instead of sailing their ships around the perilous waters of Lands’ End, they would abandon their vessels and set off on foot.

Enjoy the scenery and wander through rolling fields to Trencrom Hill. Looked after by the National Trust, the impressive Trencrom will test your legs but it is well worth it upon reaching the top. Standing alone at 550ft above the Hayle Estuary, it is believed to have been a Neolithic hill fort and boasts some of the most beautiful views in Cornwall.

Once you’ve snapped a few pictures and taken a well-deserved breather, head off once more. Stroll over Ninnes Bridge towards Ludgvan, past Ludgvan Church (once used as a meeting point for pilgrims) and eventually pop out on the south coast near Penzance. From here, St Michael’s Way leads you east towards Marazion and the magnificent final stretch of the walk.

After a long 12.5 miles drenched in history and unbelievable landscapes, St Michael’s Way finishes here at St Michael’s Mount. A fitting end to an incredible walk, you can climb to the top of the mount and look back towards the bay. Offering a totally unique vantage point and setting, reward yourself with a hearty meal on the island and let your feet rest and your mind unravel.

Things to do in Cornwall in the Winter

You can still enjoy the beauty of Cornwall when you visit us during the winter. Our ever-changing landscape becomes more windswept and dramatic, and visitors wrap up warm as they enjoy the stunning sights of West Cornwall, before stopping for a pint in a cosy Cornish pub or warming up with a hot chocolate at one of the many beach cafes.

What are our top recommendations for things to do in West Cornwall during the colder months?

Cobbled causeway from Marazion to St Michael's Mount

Walk the causeway across to St Michael’s Mount

Our iconic castle and gardens may be closed, but visitors are still welcome to cross the causeway when the tide is out and walk around our island home. Enjoy the views of the village of Marazion from the island and take photos of the sunsets. Wrap up and enjoy a blustery walk on Marazion beach, and take a wander through the streets of the village.

Go for a big walk in the woods

There is nothing more invigorating on a cold and bright winters today than to don your wellies, scarves and mittens and go for a big walk in the woods. Visit Trevaylor Woods, just outside Penzance on the Gulval to Newmill road (TR20 8UR). Tehidy Country Park, near Camborne, has over nine miles of paths set in 250 acres of woodland and lakes.

Stay warm at the movies

Newlyn is home to a wonderful independent cinema, Newlyn Filmhouse – a two screen arts centre located in a former fish warehouse. With a mix of arthouse indies and popular new releases, it’s sure to offer something to please – and it has a brilliant licenced café on the first floor. The Savoy Cinema in Penzance has recently undergone a huge refurbishment, offering the latest blockbusters and crowd-pleasers at affordable prices.

Admire the dramatic coastline of Cornwall

We’re lucky in this part of Cornwall to have the South West Coastal Path running around much of our landscape – enjoy fantastic walks from many locations around the west of the country.

Stock up on our wonderful local produce – and have a hot chocolate and a cake while you’re there!

Visit some of our great independent farm shops and stock up some delicious, locally grown produce. Trevaskis Farm is open year round, with a fantastic range of fresh goods in store, a well-loved restaurant famous for its desserts – and your kids can visit the animals on the farm free of charge. St Buryan Farm Shop offers great coffee, snacks and an outdoor play area for the kids as well as the chance to pick up some groceries.

Get cosy in a Cornish pub

What could be more enjoyable than a locally brewed beer enjoyed in a traditional Cornish pub in front of a roaring fire? Our favourites include The Turk’s Head and The Admiral Benbow in Penzance, The Ship Inn in Mousehole and The Mexico Inn at Long Rock.

Windsurfing in Mount's Bay

The watersports never stop – and the beaches are empty

The waves can be even bigger in the winter, so come down and enjoy some of the best surf the country has to offer. Its possible to find expert instruction year round in Cornwall, and this could be a great opportunity to enjoy something new – wild swimming or windsurfing can be done in the winter.

Soak up a spot of culture

Enjoy the beauty of St Ives while it’s quiet in the winter, and pay a visit to the ArtFund Museum of the Year, Tate St Ives. Our part of Cornwall has a rich history when it comes to contemporary art, and this is your chance to immerse yourself in some of the best there is to offer.

Enjoy your visit to Cornwall and don’t forget to tag @stmichaelsmount in on any photos you take while you’re visiting the island over the winter!

Meet the team on St Michael’s Mount

Find out more about our Retail Manager, Shirley, and all things shop on St Michael’s Mount - from book keeping on the mainland to bringing one of Cornwall’s biggest clothing brands to the island!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work on the island?

I was really fortunate to hear of a temporary vacancy for reception cover with some basic book keeping at Manor Office, which was the previous estate office in Marazion.  After a few months I moved into the accounts team and learnt the basics – back in the 80’s this was pre-computer! We had a small stock room and supported the Island Shop with organising deliveries over to the Mount.  After a while, there was an opportunity to work in the shop at the weekends and although it was very different then it fascinated me.

As the accounts role grew so did retail and it was time to make a choice between which part of my job to concentrate on. No contest! I love working in retail and knew the Mount would be the most amazing place to work.  Every day is different, there’s always something new to learn and great people to meet.

What is your role on the island?

As the retail manager I’m responsible for the smooth running of the shops, making sure that we have fantastic people to staff them (which we certainly do!) and that we have an interesting array of products on offer.  I’m part of a management team and we are always looking at ways to develop and so that our customers have a great day out.

What kind of gifts can visitors expect to find in the shops on St Michael’s Mount?

Everything from clothing, leather handbags, artwork, local gins, Cornish crafts and jewellery to toys, gifts and books.  And lots more besides!

What inspires you when you are buying products to be stocked on the island?

I follow lifestyle, fashion and contemporary shop blogs. There are so many inspirational people out there coming up with new ideas.  It’s so important in retail to see up and coming trends and to also understand what our customer wants.  Anyone who knows me also knows that shopping is a pleasure rather than a chore, so there is nothing I like better than to spend a day browsing around a town or a few days in a city seeing what other people are doing.

Cornwall is a beautiful county filled with the most amazing artists, makers and designers and working with some of these people is an inspiration in itself.

What are the bespoke ranges that you have in the shop and how did these come about?

We have several ranges and one of the most popular is the St Michael’s Mount Collection. This started with a beautiful line drawing by a very talented local artist. From this we developed a whole range that changes over the seasons, using different palettes and focussing on sections of the design which is then applied to a whole range of products.

Another really interesting range is the 1793 collection which all started with a mug that James St Levan bought at auction in 2013.  It’s a beautiful blue and white design on a china tankard and is a very early souvenir that was produced in Wales using our very own Cornish china clay.

The Island Shop has recently been refurbished, can you tell us a little bit more about this?

The Courtyard shop has beautiful local crafts and the Island Shop has become more fashion based over the last few years.  It became obvious that there was much more we could offer and the opportunity to expand by converting the storeroom at the back of the shop was too good an opportunity to miss.  The result has been really positive and that’s thanks to the creativity of the designer, Peter Cooper and the hard work of Cornish Heritage Builders.  It’s surprising how the whole look and light in the building has changed.

You recently started stocking a well-known Cornish clothing brand, how did this come about?

I have known several of the Seasalt team since they started in Penzance and one of my friends worked there, so even then I was a regular customer!  They were really passionate about the product and it’s been great to watch it develop over the years.  Noticing more and more of our customers buy into the Seasalt Clothing brand made it an obvious range to sell ourselves. As a company they are inspirational and I think their values and ethos match very well with our own.

What are you planning next?

We are currently working with Falmouth University and Cornwall College on a brief whereby the students will produce artwork relating to St Michael’s Mount.  This is a really exciting project and we have been so impressed with the ideas and initial artwork/designs that the students have already come forward with.

Supporting local artists and designer/makers is something I feel strongly about and it is an absolute pleasure to work with these people.

Where is your favourite place on the island?

This is really tricky as I love watching the bees in the terraced gardens, the fact that old cannons were used as moorings in the harbour and of course the shops! The causeway just as the tide has gone out and the sun is glinting on the water is such a beautiful and tranquil way to start the day.

Choosing isn’t easy!

I suppose I’d really have to say my favourite place is the Chevy Chase.  The panes of stained glass are especially interesting and I love the way the light catches the colours and just like everywhere else on the island there are stories and history to be learnt.

Describe working on St Michael’s Mount in 3 words

My Happy Place!

Rockpooling on the Cornish coast - advice and tips from Claire Scott

Throughout the school holidays, Claire and her team offer exciting and engaging opportunities for all ages to make lasting connections with the outdoors - including our Rockpool Explorer event that takes place just off the causeway on your way to the island. Here are her top tips!

With a coastline of over 400 miles you are never far from a rockpool in Cornwall. The shoreline is a dynamic environment. The rockpools are bashed by storms, endure huge changes in temperature from freezing winter days to steamy summer ones. They are rained on and in turn dried out by the hot summer sun altering the salinity of the water in them drastically. In short they are not easy places to live and certainly not for the fainthearted!

The creatures calling the rocky shore their home have adapted in many fascinating ways to live in this ever-changing environment and in turn, we are rewarded with some incredible finds. From limpets to crabs, gobies to sea anemones you will never get bored of discovering the weird and wonderful creatures that live in this varied, harsh habitat.

Before you race out of the door on your voyage of discovery I’m would like to share some top tips for rockpooling.

Pick your day: head out when the weather isn’t too cold, small wet hands will be able to stay out for longer! Rocks and seaweed get very slippery when wet so take care in damp conditions.

Check the tides: it is always best to rock pool on an outgoing tide to avoid being caught out by the sea. Lots of interesting creatures lurk in the pools especially those closest to the sea edge.

Get the kit: you really only need a few things for rockpooling. Good sturdy shoes or wetsuit boots, a bucket, your hands and a sense of adventure! Nets scare creatures off and they can accidentally injure them. Your hands are your best bit of kit, use them to look under rocks and seaweed. Take care of these creatures and make sure the rocks and seaweed is replaced just as you found them. ID books and sheets are always handy, Collins Pocket Guides are great.

Where to look: Rocky shores are very varied with pools, rocks and crevices to explore as well as thick seaweed forests at low tide.

Look after yourself, always check tides, be warm and have good shoes.

Look after this very special habitat, turn back rocks and seaweeds, put creatures back quickly near to where you found them and take only photos and the sense of a day well spent home with you.

Happy rockpooling!

Claire Scott, Great Scott! Adventures Outdoors

If you would like to take a walk on the wild side and join Great Scott! Adventures Outdoors for a rummage in the rockpools, visit our events page for upcoming activities.

Brown Crab Tartine Recipe - Sail Loft Kitchen

Make your own Brown Crab Tartine at home - a light and fresh open-faced sandwich perfect for a spring or summer lunch enjoyed under the suns rays.

Tartine is French for “a slice of bread” and is traditionally adorned with spreadable delicacies. This could also be adapted to make a light starter or even a canape for your summer soirees. We finish the tartine’s with a drizzle of wild garlic oil, nasturtium, parsley and chervil but honestly, any of your favourite herbs will marry well with this

INGREDIENTS

Brown crab mayonnaise

(Makes enough for 6)

225g brown crab meat
125g homemade mayonnaise or Tracklements mayonnaise
The rind of half a lemon
A good squeeze of lemon juice
7g tarragon
7g dill
5g chervil
10g flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Everything else

Thick slices of good sourdough cob or homemade bread
Picked White crab meat
Herbs
Herb oil

Method

Taking care not to bruise the herbs, chop finely and add to a mixing bowl, add the crab and mayonnaise. Grate the lemon over the bowl catching the rind and essential oils, juice half the lemon and mix thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning to taste and a set-aside.

Slice the cob thickly and toast on both sides, slather the crab mayonnaise over one side of the toasted bread and adorn with the white crab meat, don’t be stingy. Season lightly and top with herbs and a drizzle of herb oil. Serve with a smile and maybe a herb salad.