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St Michael’s Mount is an island which people can visit by foot or boat. Visitors walking to the iconic castle via the causeway used to be able to explore the shops, café, and grounds surrounding it free of charge. Only visits to the castle had to be paid for.
However, things have changed since the pandemic.
Now, tourists and locals alike must pay a £14 charge to access the island and its facilities.
They must do this before setting foot on the famous landmark.
This is due to a pre-booking system which was introduced to manage crowds during the pandemic last year.
Visitors must pre-book their visit online and purchase a ticket.
This applies to everyone except National Trust members, who still have to pre-book but are able to use their membership card as payment to access the island.
Holidaymakers can still walk along the causeway to St Michael’s Mount, but must have a ticket ready by the time they reach the gate to the island itself.
The new move was put in place by St Aubyn Estates, a business owned by a family who has lived in St Michael’s Mount’s castle for centuries.
Despite giving the land to the National Trust, the family have a 999-year lease to live in the castle and a licence to operate the visitor business.
But Britons both living in Cornwall and in other parts of the UK have expressed their fury at the company’s decision to introduce the £14 fee.
Taking to the Penzance Live Facebook page, social media user Andrew Trinder wrote: “Why is it 14 pounds to get onto St Michael’s Mount now when it used to be free. Someone said to control numbers but why not just the set times without the charge.”
Julie Allen agreed, saying: “We had family down in the summer, we always used to walk across to the mount and use the cafe and spend a fair bit of money but at the prices they charge to get over it’s not worth going anymore.”
Wendy Chiffers commented: “I for one won’t ever pay. Expensive day out now. His car parks are a rip off as well.”
Ju Sincock said: “Omg that’s incredible. Won’t be doing that ever again.”
Rachel Chivers added: “It’s appalling! We often walked over with the dog, had a cream tea, bought a few bits in the shop. But no more! Disgraceful!”
Cornish local Paul Sneyd wrote: “Why should we pay same as tourist charges.”
St Aubyn Estates said in a statement that pre-booking visits “has had the significant benefit of greatly improving the experience of visitors to the castle and garden”.
However, it added the good news that during November and December, the island – its harbour, village, shops, and café – will be open to all for free.
Visitors will not need to purchase a ticket on selected days.
Harvey Thomas, CEO of St Aubyn Estates, said: “For the last two seasons, access to the island has been by timed ticket, bookable online.
“This started as a response to Covid, but has had the significant benefit of greatly improving the experience of visitors to the castle and garden.
“The flow of visitors is much more consistent throughout the day and the queues, particularly for the boats and the limited number of toilets on the island have been greatly reduced.
“Issues remained with queues for refreshments, which is an area we hope will improve next year if the hospitality recruitment crisis eases.”
He added: “We are very conscious that restricted access to the mount in the season can be disappointing, especially for many locals.
“During November and December the harbour and village, shops and cafes will be accessible without the need to purchase a ticket, but tickets will still be required for a visit to the castle.”
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