Nicola Smith explores this warm and welcoming town in Cornwall, the perfect place to while away a weekend
Marazion has a unique charm. Its winding main street hugs the coast and is filled with quirky little galleries and B&Bs, as well as a handful of pubs. The backdrop of the vast bay with sweeping views east towards the Lizard and west to Land’s End offers real beauty, but it is arguably best known for St Michael’s Mount, which rises out of the water a few hundred yards from the shore – one of 43 unbridged tidal islands that can be reached on foot from mainland Britain.
Tucked into the crook of Mount’s Bay, a three-mile walk along the coast path from Penzance, Marazion is one of the oldest chartered towns in the UK, its first charter being granted in 1257. It was the major town in this area until the late medieval period when it was eclipsed by Penzance.
10AM HOUSE & HILL
Just outside Marazion lies the National Trust’s Godolphin Estate (nationaltrust.org.uk/godolphin), with its medieval garden and Tudor house, as well as the remains of some of the earliest tin and copper mines in the county.
We head towards Godolphin Hill. It is a gentle climb up to the rocky, barren hill top, but on reaching the summit we can see St Ives Bay to the north and St Michael’s Mount to the south. It’s a view that makes me want to sing the patriotic Cornish song, Trelawney, my voice carrying over the ancient moorland hills of West Penwith…
We return over the cobbles to Godolphin House, renowned as one of the most fashionable in Cornwall in the 17th century, then linger in the impressive saloon, before admiring the capacious East Bedroom, dressed as an 18th-century bed chamber. The modern bathrooms seem somewhat incongruous until we realise that guests with a historic bent – and a penchant for ghosts – can hire the house, which sleeps 12 in six bedrooms. The history is palpable, from the great wooden beams to the mysterious woodlands.
12PM SPOON FED
We continue the drive five miles to Marazion. After meandering through the square and into Fore Street we are drawn into the inviting Copper Spoon (marazion.info/listings/the-copper-spoon), a cosy vegetarian café with a wealth of tasty treats. Opened in March 2017, it is a fortuitous find, with affable owner, Liz, serving us homemade cauliflower and cannellini bean soup, accompanied by a homemade cheese scone – possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. The local Origin coffee is excellent, and we leave revitalised.
1PM COAST WALK
We walk off our feast by meandering a mile and a half to the neighbouring village of Perranuthnoe. Heading eastwards along Fore Street and Turnpike Road, we join the coast path, skirting a working farm and entering Trenow Cove. We stroll along the bay, St Michael’s Mount keeping a watchful eye on us as we clamber over the rocks to rejoin the ascending path. We enter the village by the handsome 13th-century St Piran and St Michael Church, before passing the award-winning Victoria Inn, reputed to be one of the oldest pubs in Cornwall.
Resisting the lure of Betty Stogs, we visit the Cowhouse Gallery (cowhousegallery.co.uk), run by a group of West Cornwall artists and craftspeople, making everything from sculptures to jewellery and leatherwork. After a takeaway cuppa from The Cabin (thecabinbeachcafe.co.uk), atop Perranuthnoe’s wide sandy beach, we rejoin the coast path back to Marazion, the sky darkening.
3PM AMAZING ART
Marazion has a host of galleries lining its main street. One of my favourites is the Summerhouse Gallery (summerhousegallery.co.uk), which showcases established and emerging talent. I love Lizard-based artist Kit Johns’ imaginative use of vintage maps and Cornish newspapers. We pop into Out of the Blue (outofthebluegallery.com) to see the latest work from humorous artist, Gerry Plumb, before finishing in boutique Avalon Gallery (marazion.info/listings/avalon-art-gallery/), the longest established gallery in Marazion.
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4PM ROOM AT THE INN
Crystal welcomes us to The Godolphin Arms, a former local pub now renovated and modernised to great effect, with fantastic views across to St Michael’s Mount from its vast picture windows, as well as from seven of its 10 bedrooms. Ours is the Family Suite at the top of the building, with a bunk bed room and a large double room, notable by its large porthole window which frames the Mount like a picture.
We head downstairs to enjoy a pot of tea as we watch the causeway slowly disappearing, the rising tide ushering walkers hurriedly back to shore (godolphinarms.co.uk).
7PM CORNISH FEAST
After a relaxing bath we head out for an aperitif, nosing in the windows of three nearby pubs, all of which are buzzing with life. We choose the Cutty Sark restaurant and bar (marazionhotel.co.uk), where we are warmly welcomed and duly dazzled by the array of Cornish gins. I select Tarquin’s Tonquin gin, with Tonka beans and clementines, a perfect start to the evening.
Back at the Godolphin Arms for our evening meal, we are served by the charming and efficient Tegan. I tuck into fish goujons followed by beef and ale pie, washed down with a glass of Riesling. As we eat, through the window we pick out the lights of Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole, glittering like jewels on the coastline. We finish with a Mimosa from the enticing cocktail menu before climbing the wooden hills to bed…
10AM THE MOUNT
We wake to low tide and the causeway wending its way from beneath our window to the Mount. It takes little more than five minutes to walk to the island, and while the National Trust-owned Mount is closed for winter (reopening in March), it is still worth a visit.
Twelve families live and work on the island. We examine Queen Victoria’s bronze footprint on the quayside, marking her first step when she visited with Prince Albert in 1846. As we stand on the harbour watching Marazion slowly come to life across the water, a boat from the Mount’s Bay Pilot Gig Club rounds the island and disappears out to sea, while a lone paddle-boarder returns to shore. We head back to a delicious breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and coffee at The Godolphin Arms, watching as dog walkers and runners begin to swarm over to the Mount before the tide begins to rise.
A short walk westwards along the coast brings us to Marazion Marsh (rspb.org.uk), an RSPB reserve over the road from the sea. It is a beautiful wetland area, home to numerous grey herons who build their nests in what is Cornwall’s largest reed bed. More than 250 bird, 500 plant, 500 insect and 18 mammal species have been recorded here, while bitterns are also a common sight in winter. We watch for a while, excitedly spotting several starlings seeking winter sanctuary in the reed bed. Next time we will bring binoculars.
12PM FOND FAREWELL
We stroll back along the coast and finish our visit in the Chapel Rock Café (chapelrockcafe.com), a light, airy space with wooden floors and stained glass windows. The Newlyn crab sandwiches and steak pasties look enticing but, still full from a generous breakfast, we plump for coffee. We find seats upstairs to better drink in the view towards St Michael’s Mount – a sight that never loses its charm.
NEED TO KNOW
STAY AT… THE GODOLPHIN ARMS
Nicola stayed at this recently refurbished four-star beach-side inn with rooms. It sits opposite St Michael’s Mount and is owned by James and Mary St Levan of St Aubyn Estates. Rooms are luxurious, views outstanding, staff excellent and food superb. It has an outdoor terrace for warmer days – a perfect place for a glass of wine from Penzance’s Polgoon vineyard. From £90 B&B per night, based on two sharing (01736 888510, godolphinarms.co.uk).
HOW TO GET THERE
Marazion is a five-mile drive east of Penzance. It can be reached via the M5 to Exeter and the A30 to Cornwall. There is a direct train from Paddington to Penzance, and daily flights from London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle to Newquay, an hour away.
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