The Secrets of St Ives, Cornwall- England: Nestled between the Carbis Bay and Zennor lies the seaside town of St Ives. More than five hours drive from London, this former fishing village turned holiday hot-spot in the summer kisses the Celtic Sea, which – on a sunny day – turns a dazzling shade of turquoise.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that St Ives might have turned in a tourist trap since winning awards for its restaurants and beaches. After all, there’s no denying that it’s packed in the school summer holidays with families emptying out of their cars for a spot on the beach or a table in the local fish and chip shops. But, St Ives hides a handful of secrets, making it a wonderful place to visit all year round…
Begin your visit to St Ives taking the train along the coast from St Erth, calling through Lelant and Carbis Bay. It’s the only way to avoid the crush of local car parks, and the views across the sea make for a far more pleasant experience than the standstill traffic the town receives in summer. Walk from just above Porthminster Beach towards the town centre, meandering down winding cobbled streets that work through their way between classic cottages that are nowadays rented as beautiful holiday homes, admiring the skyline as the rooftops swell and dip haphazardly towards to harbour.
As you stroll through St Ives’ narrow streets, you may notice that many of the commercial properties are art galleries, potters and studios. This is the result of St Ives centrality to the art scene in the 1920s and 30s, and it’s a scene that’s still thriving today. Owners are welcoming if you fancy popping into see what they’re up to, and some businesses (such as Leach Pottery, founded almost 100 years ago) even encourage passers by to take part in their courses – perfect if you fancy ‘throwing’ for yourself.
The Tate Gallery is well worth a visit too (just aim to get there for opening time if you want to beat the crowds), but of course, St Ives has a connection with the art world that’s much, much older. In 1811, JMW Turner produced landscapes here (and it’s easy to see why), and the destination has since been the source of a great deal of inspiration for the likes of William Scott and Peter Lanyon in more recent times.
Once you’ve had your fill of the Tate, make your way to Porthmeor Beach. You’ll glimpse it through the windows of the Gallery, and its long stretch of white sand makes it the ideal place to sit for while, contemplating the ocean or devouring a book in peace and quiet.
Then, grab a bite to eat at the nearby Hub – if you’re lucky you’ll be able to bag yourself a table on the balcony, overlooking the sea while you tuck into their menu comprising Cornish beef, local seafood and seasonal specials. Or, continue down the road to the Rum and Crab Shack for, well – rum and crab. There are plenty of fish and chip shops to try as well, but skip the ones with queues of tourists and head to places like The Balancing Eel or Becks Fish and Chips (offering gluten-free batter) instead.
St Ives is just as magical in winter, albeit with a very different vibe. Gone are the swathes of tourists, making it a place that feels tranquil. Meander at your own pace, wrap up warm and drink in the salty air set against the backdrop of white terraced cottages and wet cobbled streets.
So, will you be visiting St Ives at any point this year? Head to this lovely little corner of the Cornish coast to unearth its secrets for yourself.
(Sponsored post- Classic Cottages)