Still suffering from “absence of holidays abroad syndrome”, my sister and I decided to book a few days away in St Ives, Cornwall. I have written reviews before and most of them involve my families attempts at walking the whole of the South West Coastal Path (only 80 miles left to do!) and we had passed through St Ives a while back. I had been impressed with this town and suggested to my sister that her and I spend a few days there. We booked rail tickets and although it was a long journey for me (from London), it was even longer for her (from the Kent Coast) but the trains were comfortable and although we had to change 3 times it was a pleasant journey.
We arrived late afternoon and made our way to our Hotel, The St Ives Bay Hotel which is just up a hill above the railway station. First impressions were a bit disappointing, like a lot of seaside hotels it was run down and our room was small, noisy (from the road outside) and our radiator could not be turned off which was a bit of an inconvenience as we had wonderful hot weather whilst down there! There was no effort made to clean our room or empty the bins until we asked. I know because of COVID a lot of hotels were suggesting they didn’t come into the guests rooms but it isn’t very pleasant having an overflowing bin in your room.
The first day after our arrival we went down to the Harbour and booked ourselves onto a boat trip out to Seal Island. We had glorious weather and as we left the harbour a group of dolphins swam alongside the boat chasing a shoal of mackerel. Then we saw the seals on Seal Island. It was a fabulous sight and although the trip only lasts an hour you get to see so much and it provides wonderful views of the St Ives coastline. There are a number of boats available, we chose the smaller ‘Little Mermaid’ and the Owner/Captain was very knowledgeable and interesting. Back on shore we had to try the famous Cornish Pasty (albeit it a vegetarian one!) and we sat in deckchairs in the harbour enjoying the sun.
Later we walked back to the beach near our Hotel (Porthminster Beach) and enjoyed an afternoon of sunbathing (quite a bonus considering it was late September!) As the weather was so nice we didn’t want to leave the beach and ended up enjoying halloumi burgers, chips and prosecco at the beach café for our evening meal. Delicious! Talking about food, we soon found that it was difficult to get into any of the town’s restaurants due to the number of people visiting the town. All the Harbour restaurants seemed to be booked up for the whole week but we did manage to book a couple of places for later in the week. One was ‘The Hide’ where we sat upstairs in their window bay watching the tide going out and the people on the beach. The menu is only burgers I’m afraid but our veggie one was tasty and their cocktails were very nice! The other restaurant we booked was ‘The Lifeboat Inn’. This is again right in the harbour but is more of a pub and features mainly seafood and fish.
The following day we climbed aboard the The Land’s End Coaster open top bus and we rode for free (thank god for the OAP’s bus pass) to Land’s End. We had a little wander around (far too commercialised now I think) and a pasty lunch then boarded the bus again and went to Penzance and then back to St Ives. The views from the bus were fabulous. Used to walking in Cornwall I haven’t seen the countryside from such a vantage point before. It was quite a revelation.
Another day we got the train to Carbis Bay (just one stop) and had the day on the beach there. It is a beautiful place and was the venue for the most recent G7 summit. We had lunch and ice creams whilst sitting in our deckchairs and watching a wedding taking place in the Carbis Bay Hotel. (I am wondering now if their wedding photos will show up 2 white haired ladies in deckchairs in the background). Another surprise was that Ainsley Harriot was filming a cookery programme on the beach and during breaks he wandered over to talk to us. We even got a hug! I am not sure it was very COVID friendly but he is a larger than life character.
Our final day was rainy but we headed off round the town (so many small cottages and little back streets) and visited the Tate St Ives. This lovely building has a café with a great view and the building itself is a lovely design. They had a Haegue Yang exhibition there but I have to say neither of us are modern art fans and spent most of our time trying to work out which way up each exhibit was! It kept us out of the rain for a while though!
St Ives was celebrating a Food and Drink Festival which started that day and it was sad to see the stalls and marquees all set up on the beach only to have bad weather suddenly roll in! Still there was live music and barbecued food for the more hardy visitors.
So our little break was very nice but we were amazed at how many visitors there were (it wasn’t school holidays so there wasn’t a lot of children around but every other visitor seemed to have a dog or two!) Trying to negotiate around the little winding streets and trying not to get entangled on a dog’s leash was quite stressful! There are also very small pavements and the traffic seems to be quite heavy through the town. If the dog leads didn’t get you there was a chance the cars might. It maybe isn’t the place for people who have walking difficulties, especially as it is set on a hill. Let’s hope people start going abroad again soon and our resorts like St Ives return to a manageable number of visitors!