Thursday, 20th August, destination the church, St Michael Mount. 2.5 miles.
This day is already well documented on my Facebook page with lots of lovely photos that other people took. However, on my drive to the stable to get Tommy ready in the morning, it doesn’t look very promising. I can’t even make out the familiar shape of St Michael’s Mount through the fog.
Stopping at the Post Office in Marazion to get the obligatory stamp (see main picture above) to record this special day.
It feels strange that we are not setting out for another day on the road. But we do have an important appointment to meet: on the beach in front of the Mount by 2 pm, I give Tommy a make-over so that he is as presentable as I can make him for his date with destiny. Scrubbing him up like a proper little show pony for the occasion, rinsing the miles of toil from his coat and dressing him in the healing ribbon banner (see healing ribbons) that we have carried with us on our journey, attaching it along the crest of his mane with a mixture of plaits and ties. What a pretty boy!
I thought I had tied them on securely but some of the ribbons start to undo themselves on the way down to the beach and I find myself having to make some running repairs whilst we are going along which is not very easy because I don’t have enough hands for the job. Anyway, I do the best I can and somehow, it holds out pretty well in the wind.
Taking the back road to the beach, we make it for our special appointment with several minutes to spare. I am both delighted and relieved to see there is a small gathering of friends and well wishers, with some RDA representatives too.
Also delighted to see William Reddaway, an inspiration and mentor, who has travelled down from Cheltenham, to join us with his dog, Archie.
And not only has the fog lifted enough to see the Mount, but thankfully it’s not raining.
Last glance at my watch to check its 2 o’clock and we make our way towards the causeway where I dismount because it seems fitting to do so and walk with Tommy across to the Mount.
We join the throng of visitors on their way across, Tommy completely at home amongst the crowd. In fact, he is so relaxed in all the time we are there we don’t have to call on the poo-picking services of Janet (McEwan) who has kindly come prepared with a shovel just in case. Here is a still image she sent me from some video footage she took of us walking across the causeway which I think is one of the best images of my whole journey. The iconic shot of a pilgrim and her horse.
Once through the gates onto the Mount, one of the Mount employees, John, is there to meet us and take our small party away from the public and through the wooden gates into the old Boat Yard which is going to be used as a holding area for Tommy whilst we pay our visit to the chapel.
I know Tommy will be very happy as it is a grassy lawn and Kate kindly offers to hold him for me while we go up to the chapel. I know he is in good hands. Before I go, I take off the thin blue ribbon that is tied to his bridle to take with me.
A few of us then carry on up to the chapel at the top of the Mount where we wait for Janet to catch us up
before meeting Paul Webb, another staff member who is waiting to receive us. Before we go up the steps into the chapel, he shows us the small piece of rock jutting out from the outside wall of the chapel which, he explains, is the highest natural point of the Mount and as I lay my hand on this for a moment, I silently give thanks to St Michael and St Mary for delivering us here to this elevated spot having covered nearly 1,000 miles, navigating a safe passage through all the trials and tribulations of our journey.
Inside the chapel dedicated to St Michael, we make our way through the crowd of visitors to the front of the church and Paul invites me to join him in front of the altar. Here, I explain the significance of these humble offerings that I am presenting to the community of St Michael’s Church: the St Cuthberts beads presented to me by the community of Lindisfarne and the blue ribbon that represents St Mary, which Tommy has worn attached to his bridle for the entire journey since we left Lindisfarne three and a half months ago. (see notes below) We place these objects on the altar in front of the small vase of flowers.
Paul and I pose for Janet to take this picture of us at the altar and I take a photo of my offerings on the altar with the flowers which represents the culmination of our pilgrimage, mission finally accomplished!
Job done, we head back down the Mount to pick up Tommy
And head back across the causeway where William walks in front of us to clear a path, grandly proclaiming ‘horse coming through’ which is very kind but we didn’t really need it! William and Archie walk back with us up Marazion High Street to Tregurtha Farm, the final walk of this pilgrimage which I will call ‘Ride’ 70 because I like to round off my numbers!
And that, you might think, is that. But it’s not quite the end of the story. It seems the universe has one last surprise up her sleeve. I will explain in my next post.
N.B. The offerings:
- St Cuthberts Beads: or Cuddy’s Beads, are fossilised portions of the stems of Carboniferous Crinoids. These tiny bead like fossils with a hollow centre are washed out onto the beach and in Medieval Northumberland were strung together to form necklaces or rosaries, becoming associated with St Cuthbert. On Lindisfarne they were found during the excavation of the beach to create lime kilns on the island. Two of these beads were presented to me from the Community of St Mary’s Church on Lindisfarne at the start of our pilgrimage.
- The Blue Ribbon: The colour blue has long been associated with healing. It also represents the colour for the Holy Mother, Mary. Tommy wore a blue ribbon tied to his bridle all the way from Lindisfarne to St Michael’s Mount. (see also my post about Blue, ‘Botticelli, Klein Blue and the sacred Feminine‘, here)