From Sea to Shining Sea on St. Michael’s Way

A big thank you to Country Walkers for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

It’s not every day that we can walk from coast to coast. Granted, traversing England’s South West Peninsula isn’t exactly like crossing a continent, but the prospect was pretty exciting to us.

The feat could be accomplished by following St. Michael’s Way from St. Ives to St Michael’s Mount.

In addition to allowing us to cover an entire landmass, the trail afforded us the opportunity to revisit the Camino de Santiago. The Way became a section of the trans-European pilgrimage path because pilgrims coming from Ireland chose to walk across Cornwall rather than brave the treacherous waters that faced them by sailing around Land’s End at the far western end of England.

We set out from Cardis Bay and climbed about a mile to the first landmark along the way, Knill’s Steeple.  This 50ft granite obelisk is a self-styled tribute that John Knill, the eccentric mayor of St Ives, built to himself back in 1782.

His idea was to be buried beneath it, but he messed up the memorial by going off and dying in London, so he is interred there.

Yet this didn’t keep his legacy from living on at the monument, because he left an endowment in his will to fund an odd celebration every five years, which continues to this day.

Every fifth St James Day, on 25th of July, the current mayor of St. Ives, a vicar, two widows in black, a fiddler, and ten young girls dressed in white dance their way up to the shrine, followed by a gala dinner.

We missed the big doings, but the next one is set for 2021. One thing we didn’t miss was the celebratory view of the Cornish coast from the summit of Worvas hill.

We continued upward on our way to the top of Cornwall, Trencrom Hill, the only place in the county where both coasts are visible, the Celtic Sea on our north to the English Channel on the south.

This apex was used as a hillfort in the Iron Age, and it is easy to see why. There is no way any intruders could sneak up.

The hill was also said to home to the giant Trecobben, which explains the preponderance of boulders strewn about the area.

Supposedly, he and his giant pal Cormoran, who resided on St Michael’s Mount, liked to toss huge rocks back and forth to each other in a giant game of catch.

Descending, we dodged rocks until we entered a stretch of farm fields, then made our way along stone fences and hedges before crossing a brook and into some woods.

Breaking out of the thick forest, we came to the town of Ludgvan and its church dedicated to Saint Ludowanus.

Like pilgrims going back to the 15th century, we had been following its tower for the last few miles. There is even an ancient carving above the doorway that may or may not be of an early traveler.

After looking inside and wandering through the graveyard, we stopped in next door at the White Hart Inn. This old roadhouse has hundreds of years of history and bills itself as a classic Cornish pub.

As the only place providing sustenance along the twelve miles we would walk of the Way, we could hardly pass it up. Charmed by the quaint interior, and refreshed by a quick bite and a pint, we’d say it lived up to its billing.

All that lay between us and our destination at that point was the Marazion Marsh, so we waded in.  This nature reserve has one of Cornwall’s largest reed beds and is an important refuge for breeding and migrating birds.

For us it was yet another interesting change of scenery before we reached the shore and came face to face with St Michael’s Mount.

As we walked along the beach in the town of Marazion, the mountain stood as an island about a half a mile offshore, yet we could walk there to finish our journey.

That is because the tides in this area can run as much as twenty feet, and when it is out the mount sits on dry land, easily accessible by a cobblestone foot path.

We had seen it in pictures, but with the sun going down we would have to wait until morning to make the last few hundred yards of our trek.

David & Veronica,

See more from our Cornwall walking tour here.

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4 thoughts on “From Sea to Shining Sea on St. Michael’s Way”

  1. I love your travel posts and this is no exception. The only thing missing is a little map of England showing the general route you walked. ?

  2. What a nice place to visit and explore thanks for sharing this post about Saint Michaels.

  3. Excellent blog post . im very happy to read this blog .
    Thank you for sharing this awesome blog
    Have a nice day, god bless you

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