We visited St Ives at last this week and found summer seemed to linger on within the bustling streets and thronged harbour even though it was late in October.
The bustling tourist destination of St Ives is so different from the quiet, laid back, world of Mounts Bay and so we eased ourselves gently into the visit by taking the Train from Lelant Saltings. The train runs from here about every thirty minutes so there is never long to wait and the ten minute journey has spectacular views
Take the train to St Ives
“Take the train to St Ives” we often advise our guests “you’ll be able to relax without the worry of parking the car” so we took our own advice and a ten minutes drive later, Priscilla Peugeot was tucked in a corner of the surprisingly busy car park at Lelant Salting and we were off for an Autumn treat.
The tide was out from the R.S.P.B. reserve just beside the tracks but a huge brave sky soon framed views that would have graced any Gallery.
We felt we were almost flying above St Ives bay as the train threaded its way through the trees and tunnels and we watched the most captivating view be revealed and then just as suddenly concealed, all accompanied by the rhythmical clickity-clack of the track.
Regular commuters please forgive us but there is a certain frisson in waiting for the train, settling in a seat beside the window and anticipating the day to come.
For details of Tickets and timetable: – https://www.thetrainline.com/train-times/lelant-saltings-to-st-ives
St Ives Station above Porthminster beach
We soon arrived at St Ives station just above Porthminster beach that we visited last winter and this time the beguiling view down on to St Ives harbour led us on with the tide of humanity walking through the narrow alleys down to the harbour.
St Ives Harbour
Now our German guests have a perfect word to describe the popular destination of St Ives – “Touristik” and the harbour was packed that balmy late October day. Visitors thronged cafes and restaurants spilling across the road to the benches and down to the vast empty harbour and I must admit that a sort of claustrophobia soon started to set in for me, so we strolled onwards cutting behind The Island to Porthmeor Beach and discovering a couple of hidden beaches along the way.
Search out some of the smaller beaches in St Ives
Leave the bustle of the harbour and follow the signs to the St Ives Museum and you will find this tiny tidal sun trap at the bottom of some steep steps between the harbour and Porthgwidden Beach
We spotted Lambeth beach just below the path that runs beyond the Lifeboat station as we walked back to the train. This beach is again a tidal one and much quieter than the buzzier expanses of sands and can be accessed from Porthgwidden beach at very low tide
Lunch at the Porthmeor Beach cafe
We chose the Porthmeor Beach café for lunch tucked under the Tate Gallery just above Porthmeor beach and it was a little haven of peace, away from the bustle or maybe it was the lovely glass of chilled white wine that went with my delicious lunch!
This is a great spot for people watching too, comfortable cocooned on the deck above the families and surf schools that mingle on the sands. We spent a pleasant hour or two watching the surf, the flags, the lifeguards, the toddlers with their sandcastles, all spread across the honey coloured sands to the ocean below us.
We had no room left for pudding but The Porthmeor beach Café kindly packed two delicious pieces of chocolate cake for us to take home for our tea and we set off again clutching the discreet brown box, back into the clamour of St Ives.
Shops and more shops!
We took a slightly different route back through the town, taking the main street just back from the harbour, where independent shops and well know names jostled side by side in the narrow confines with swags of bunting fluttering gaily overhead.
I hovered in the doorways to admire the stylish clothes shops, curated as artfully as any art gallery, flanked by enough toffee and fudge shops to cause a major problem to the nation’s dentist single handed.
Return to St Ives Harbour
The tide was just starting to fill the harbour as we walked back, sending glossy reflections across the water and we stopped for a moment to look at the Lifeboat before turning again into the narrow path that skirts the harbour with a seal was flirting with the water just below our feet.
Ice cream and Porthminster Beach
There was one more thing left to do for a proper sea-side outing – Ice cream! So we popped down the tempting steps onto Porthminster beach for a traditional Cornish ice cream and last few minutes of sunshine before boarding the train for home.
The train home St Ives to Lelant Saltings
Those fabulous views flashed by again the dunes, the sheer expanse of sands and the forlornly abandoned fishing boat still laying just as on the Saltings beside the railway track.
We were home in time for tea with that delicious chocolate cake to finish our autumn treat – a day trip to St Ives. You know – I may well go again soon, this time to check out the famous art galleries!