Bring on Spring

As we head towards the weekend, where British Summer Time is brought in, the promise of better weather is going to mean brighter longer days. What can you do to fill them? The good thing is that there are so many things you can do at St Ives.

Among some of the places to visit:

The open-air amphitheatre, Minack Theatre

Tate St Ives, the recently re-opened gallery housing works such as those by Barbara Hepworth

The Flambards Experience – loads of rides and exciting adventures!

The Barbara Hepworth museum – see the famous working studio of the St Ives sculptress

There are also various arty places such as the Leach Pottery and St Ives Museum.

Fancy a bite? Take a walk down the harbour and take your pick from the various cafes and restaurants that line the sea front. Enjoy a nice cool beer in the sun or a cream tea as the afternoon heat bathes you in its warmth.

Why not get into the sea yourself? There are various surfing and kayaking lessons you can sign up for.

For the younger children, there are various parks and places to choose from.

Winter is over – as the song goes, turn on the sun!

The harbour of St Ives

Life at St Ives has traditionally revolved around its harbour. Here, up to about the time of the First World War, were to be seen the town’s large fleets of mackerel and pilchard luggers, coasting vessels loading or discharging cargoes, seine boats arriving from Porthminster deeply laden with silvery fish; and all the bustle and activity associated with a prosperous seaport and fishing town.

Today, the scene has vastly changed, yet the harbour remains the focal point of St Ives. Nearly all the fishing boats have gone, their places taken by gaily painted pleasure craft, whilst the sand, once grimy with coal, is now a clean golden bathing beach. Many regret the change, but it was inevitable with the decline in the fishing industry; and St Ives is at least fortunate in having a type of harbour that has adapted so well to meet new circumstances.

As early as the sixteenth century St Ives was the chief port of departure in the west for passage to Ireland, and there are several entries in the old Borough Accounts relating to this traffic. Thus in 1592: ‘paide William Ots to pay for 2 passengers bounde to Irelande whiche weare hosted at water treweks 3s.4d.’ ‘Paide to a man of Irelande that had his barke stollen by pirats 1s.’ 1604: ‘paide to a poore souldier that came from Irelande 3d.’ The importance of this sea-link with Ireland is shown also in a by-law passed in 1619, which decreed that ‘All yrishmen landing hencforth ther loades or Burden of tymber [are to pay] ijs.ijd. & ballaste of Sand to be taken at this charge if they liste to take it.’

No contemporary description of the harbour has survived, but it is known that prior to 1766 the pier ran out from Carn Glaze (the site of the present Fishermen’s Co-operative Stores). It appears to have been of simple construction, probably consisting of timber piles driven in the sand, with a rubble filling. The maintenance of this pier and the clearance of sand from the harbour imposed at times a severe strain on the very limited borough finances.

The harbour began to take on something of its present appearance in 1770, when a new pier was constructed to the design of John Smeaton, the great civil engineer. This was built out from the Castle Rocks, the old pier being at the same time demolished and the Wharf constructed. Though only about half its present length, Smeaton’s Pier sheltered a much greater extent of water than its predecessor did, and so accommodated the growing trade and fishing industry of the town. This growth in the years following the building of the pier is best illustrated by the annual amounts of harbour dues collected by the Trustees, which rose from £593 in 1770 to £1280 in 1814 and to £1824 by 1836.

In 1837 St Ives, very unwisely, was declared a free port, and dues ceased to be collected – a measure that resulted in unavoidable delay in carrying out further improvements.

In 1844, 165 coasting merchant vessels having a gross tonnage of 9723 arrived in the port of St Ives. By comparison, during the same year, 856 vessels arrived at Hayle, these having a tonnage of 65,979. But what was more important at St Ives was the fishing industry; in 1847 the capital invested in the pilchard fisheries was in excess of £150,000, with 400 boats and 735 men employed, whilst a further 100 men were engaged in other types of fishing.

Imports from within Britain were coal, iron and general merchandise and from abroad timber; exports within Britain were fish and copper ore, and abroad, fish and tin. Sailing vessels belonging to the port totalled 8994 tons, with a few steamers totalling 498 tons.

In 1864 work was begun on an outer harbour by erecting the New or Wood Pier at the seaward side of Smeaton’s structure, and running roughly at right angles to it. Its timber frame failed to stand up to the buffeting of the Atlantic rollers, however, and in less than twenty years it had become an almost complete wreck. Today little more than its short masonry stump remains. The failure of this project brought on an acute crisis, the harbour being desperately overcrowded with the ever-increasing fleet of fishing vessels. This situation reached its climax in 1886, with the so-called Tresidder’s riot among the fishermen.

Eventually, in 1888-90 the position was relieved by adding a lengthy extension to Smeaton’s Pier. The shorter West Pier was built in 1894 as a loading jetty for roadstone from the Carthew and Orange Lane quarries. Finally, around 1922 the Wharf Road was constructed from the lifeboat house to Chy-an-Chy, affording much needed relief to Fore Street, which previously had to carry all the traffic.

Since then, St Ives has ceased to be a seaport, whilst its fishing fleet has dwindled to extinction. These events have brought about great changes in the town itself. The smoke houses for curing, the great pilchard cellars, the barking houses for tanning nets, and the net factory have all gone, either swept away to make room for modern developments, or converted to new uses. The last St Ives pilchard cellar, in Norway Lane, was cleared out in 1968-69, much of its equipment being transferred to the St Ives Museum at Wheal Dream. Yet with all these changes, ‘Downlong’, the old fishing quarter, still retains a great deal of its atmosphere, the narrow alleyways and picturesque cottages proving a never-failing delight to artists, photographers and holiday-makers.

Splendid Septembers at the Blue Mist studios

The Blue Mist studio can be found in one of the most historic parts of St Ives. Looking for great views of the harbour? You can get it with this open plan studio. Situated in The Warren, one of the most scenic spots of the seaside town, the studio has magnificent views and if you are coming for a romantic getaway, this is the perfect hideaway from which you can explore the things to do and places to visit in St Ives, or sit back and enjoy the scenic sights of the town.

The Blue Mist studio is not only close to the galleries, shops and restaurants of the town, but is well within walking distance of a year round dog walking beach. So those coming with dogs will find they can come and enjoy the seaside town without feeling like they are neglecting man’s best friend!

Being a studio apartment, the bedroom, kitchen, sitting room and dining room are the same big open space. This space is furnished with usual furniture, such as a double bed and chest of drawers. Unfortunately  there is no wardrobe but this is because of the intention to maximise the living space. The breakfast bar has seating for two, modern cooking appliances such as electric hob and oven, washer/dryer and dishwasher. Slink away in the sofa or armchair and enjoy the sea views or television in the night.

There is a large walk-in shower with s WC and a basin.

Entrance to the apartment is via one flight of external stairs and through a common hallway. Unfortunately it is not wheelchair accessible. The WiFi connection is slow and so it is only suitable for general browsing. More higher bandwidth activities such as streaming or downloading are unsuitable because the connection is not consistent. While these may be viewed as minor inconveniences, the attractions of St Ives will more than compensate for them.

September is a popular month to visit St Ives as the long established St Ives September Festival runs then. It has been going for over forty years and brings together art, music, crafts and performing arts in over a fortnight of celebration.

This year the September Festival opened with performances by a variety of street entertainers around the town such as a Cornish dancers and the St Ives Concert Band.

St Ives School of painting, situated at Porthmeor studios also organised guided life drawing classes.

Elsewhere there were other activities such as lino decorating, Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa), a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice,  music and poetry.

Third Man Theatre premiered the comedy Drenched – inspired by the Cornish landscape, people, folklore and the pasties!

The evening also finished with music by the John McCusker band and Tom Dale’s old-time blues, mountain music and rock music.

If you coming to St Ives, September is a particularly busy period so book your accommodation well in advance. And why not book a visit during the time of the September festival? Not only will there be the usual places to visit at St Ives, the whole seaside town will be buzzing with activities to suit everyone!

You’ll definitely have a blast!

Romantic Places in St Ives

St Ives has many places to visit and many things to do for every one young and old. Many people come to St Ives to experience the brilliant arts culture, maritime history and also head for the beaches for the sun, sand, sea and surf.

The beaches are beautiful but they aren’t the only visual scenic treasures around. There are many other beautiful gardens and places within St Ives that will evoke many beautiful memories in time to come.

St Ives is such a place of beauty that it has inspired various artists to capture the landscapes through art and photography, and craftsmen continue to be inspired on a daily basis by their surroundings. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets, juxtaposed with the boats in the harbour, on the shimmering blue sea where cormorants on the rocky landscape dry their wings … It is a truly magnificent backdrop for your holiday photos.

If you are ever considering a romantic getaway why not make St Ives your place of choice?

Along with what has already been mentioned, the winding streets and magnificent beaches make St Ives one of the most romantic parts of Cornwall. Come for a romantic holiday weekend, a Valentine’s Day romance … Or maybe even more? Here are some suggested romantic spots.

 

The Island

The Island is a lovely spot from which to observe the sunset or the waves crashing to the shore. It is not really an island, in the sense that it is actually a promontory that juts out to the sea. Nevertheless, when you have walked to the tip of it, you and your special one could feel like you are the only two people in the world, away from everyone else on the mainland. You are still connected to humanity, but away from them in your private little world. It’s easy accessibility comes at a bonus. You don’t have to hire a boat to get to some secluded island. As the day draws to a close, simply walk there and reminisce over the day or life in general. Make The Island your base from which exciting future adventures are thought up. Or head there after an evening meal, feel the winds rush through your hair as you take in the night lights of the seaside town. Or just head there for a stroll during the way, hand in hand, and climb up to tiny St Nicholas’ Chapel at the top for the best views.

 

Porthmeor Beach

Porthmeor Beach is one of the many to choose from at St Ives, but the rock pools and golden yellow sand give it a rustic combination that provide that quaint rural seaside feel. The walk along the sand is enough to take you away from the daily stresses of life and give you that sense of peace and calm that you came to St Ives for. During the day the beach is popular and a fun place to be around, so it is an exciting to spend time in the sunshine during the day, and as the night draws near, the beach takes on a different facade. Head there in the day and night, and when you look back on both sets of romantic snaps, one of which might eventually end up framed above the bed, you will be amazed to know they are of the same place because they look completely different.

 

Smeaton’s Pier

Smeaton’s Pier in the harbour extends out to sea, and you can also get good romantic snaps with the tethered boats towards The Wharf. When the tide is out you can walk along the wet sand and get pictures of yourselves closer to one of these boats. Perched on the pier ledge, with the water under your feet, pastie in hand and wind in your face … This is Cornish romance at its blossom.

Trewyn Gardens

Hidden up a hill behind Barclays bank, the inviting benches of Trewyn Garden are a nice quiet place to spend an afternoon. The lush green lawn and the stunning subtropical plants in the miniature park are inviting on summer, and a lovely cuddly spot on a chilly February day.

 

Carbis Bay

Surrounded by trees and backed by with the characteristic blue St Ives  seas, you might think Carbis Bay was the beach they put on magazine brochures for Mediterranean destinations. Carbis Bay is a short romantic route from St Ives: From the east end of Porthminster Beach, choose the South West Coast Path which takes you between the beaches. Carbis Bay is a nice quiet bay where you and your special one can have a picnic. Bring a packed lunch, bottle of wine and mat all in a little picnic basket, and the world is all yours.

 

Trencrom Hill

Trencrom Hill is a short drive away from St Ives in Lelant Downs. You can get incredible views from the top of this Neolithic settlement. Penwith Peninsula and St Michael’s Mount, as well as up towards St Austell, are all visible with the naked eye. This is a wonderful spot to catch the sunset. The secret path to the top is from the small National Trust car park, which reveals to you the short winding path  that leads you up there.

 

The Hayle beaches

 Three Miles of Golden Sands” are what you get with the beaches at Hayle. The beach seems to go on forever, the perfect place for a quiet romantic getaway. Many a romantic has seized upon this chance to pop the important question at the end of the walk! En route you can see more rural views of St Ives; Godrevy Lighthouse awaits you in the distance.

If you are looking for some place romantic for evening dining, there are so many restaurants in St Ives for that kind of special evening. Looking for somewhere to stay? Why not try the Blue Mist apartments? There is the bigger Blue Mist cottage, but for a romantic getaway for two, the Blue Mist studio sleeps two and provides an quiet, intimate space from which to explore the town. It provides a welcoming space to come home to after a day spent exploring St Ives and all the brilliant things it has on offer. Pop back in, put on some Romantic music, and just unwind and watch the waves from your window.

Some people take the opportunity to propose to their other halfs with the backdrop of St Ives in the background, both literally and metaphorically. A beautiful picture of two with the sunset and beaches in the background can make for the inspirational start to a new life, while the memory of where it happened will live forever in your minds. Find a restaurant or a romantic hideaway like the Blue Mist studio that plays light romantic music – either acoustic guitar or sentimental piano. Loud rock music, or music that even sounds remotely like it, such as rock music played on piano, is probably best avoided! Or you may also decide to do a course together while you are here. The possibilities that St Ives can offer are quite abundant!

 

St Ives adventures on foot

There is an abundance of things you can do at St Ives, making it an ideal location for holidaying. Even if you do not drive, the train line with a magnificent coastal view that takes you right to the heart of things ensures you won’t miss out on the many things that makes this seaside town one of the best places to visit. In fact, once you get here, you may find it difficult or unnecessary to leave town. Here is a list of some things you could do, easily accessible without having to drive anywhere.

1. Try surfing. Many people come to St Ives for the surfing. You don’t need to buy new surfing gear if you are thinking of trying it out as a one-off. The St Ives Surf School on Porthmeor Beach offers surfing lessons and you can rent your surfing gear from term too. Ring them on 01736 793938 for more information.

2. Swimming. If there is the odd shower, swimming is an indoor activity you can do whilst you are here. There are several swimming pools you can go to in St Ives. The St Ives Leisure Centre has both a big swimming pool and a smaller one for younger children. The latter pool has a slide which they will enjoy whizzing down. There are also other pools at The Garrack, St Ives Harbour Hotel and Tregenna Castle which you can use too. And if you are feeling adventurous, head for the sea! Porthminster Beach is quite calm and more suited for swimming, but whenever you are swimming in the sea, do exercise some caution as the tides can come in quite quickly.

3. Rockpooling – playing in the sea is not just limited to activities like swimming. Have a sniff around in rockpools and see what treasures you can find.  At low tide, you can find some rock pools around Porthmeor Beach.

4. Crabbing – for something a bit more sedate, purchase a crab line, a bucket,  net and some bait and head off to the old pier behind Smeaton’s Pier. Get your crab line set up, take in the atmosphere or simply catch up with some holiday reading, and see what awaits you after a short while!

5. Fishing – fishing is permitted off the rocks around St Ives. The late winter to spring period usually sees plenty of mackerel around, so grab your rod and line!

6. Tate St Ives – one of only four Tates in the world, this famous art gallery reopens in October 2017  with a new extension to complement its existing collection that commemorates St Ives’ place as a meeting point of art, maritime activities and architecture.

 

7. The Barbara Hepworth Museum is worth a little exploration if you ever come down to St Ives. The museum and tranquil gardens which are set right in the heart of St Ives contain beautiful sculptures for you to appreciate. There are also other Barbara Hepworth sculptures around town so look out for them!

8. Boat Trips – returning back to the sea, if crabbing is not something for you, you can go on a boat trip. Book at the harbour – and try your luck at sea fishing! Alternatively, you can take the boat to Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration for many a writer and artist, or head for Seal Island to see them frolicking around!

A coastal walk is a very romantic thing to do at night with your loved one. The lighthouse, with its searchlight projecting into the distance, surrounded by the quiet crash of waves, is quite reminiscent of being at the theatre or the early days of the silent movie. But gentlemen take note – as the waves crash to the shore and you hold the hand of your beloved one, the lighthouse is a strong visual reminder that you will always be the shining light for your significant other. How romantic!

9. Porthmeor Beach is arguably the best surfing beach found in St Ives. In addition, it has the most rugged coast line in St Ives. A walk along the beach will give you magnificent views of the area; don’t forget your camera!

10. On another rainy day you can source for local books at St Ives Bookseller, which you can find on Fore Street. There you can locate an extensive range of books both for children and adults alike. Local books and maps can also be found here, if you are interested in learning more about the area. The St Ives Library is also an alternative literary haunt for its range of local history books and art work. The area specially dedicated children’s area has books and colouring to keep younger readers entertained while older siblings browse.

11. The Island – despite what the name suggests, the Island isn’t actually an island. It is actually a promontory. This is another lovely place for an evening walk and to recline on one of the benches that line the way, to enjoy the amazing views.

12. Porthgwidden Beach – this beach is one that is suitable for families. The lovely expanse of sand gives the children a gorgeous sandy beach to play on, and the beach is sheltered and hence the waves that crash against the shore are not as large as the ones found on other beaches.

13. St Ives Museum occupies what was formerly the site of the Wheal Dream mine. It is a source of fascinating information about St Ives, and how it has developed over the centuries.

14. Smeaton’s Pier and Lighthouse remains a working pier and so if you are walking around having a look do be mindful of the fishermen who are working there, and also of the equipment lying around.

15. When the tide is out at St Ives Harbour, you can walking along the wet sand and right up to the end of the pier to get close to the moored boats.

16. St Ives has a rich history of arts and crafts do why not pick up a new skill while you’re  here? At the Barnoon Workshop, you can choose from and sign up for a huge range of art and craft workshops, for all abilities and age groups.

17. From your little screen to the big screen – go to the cinema!  St Ives’ cinema shows the latest releases so I’d you are a movie fanatic you won’t have to miss out while you are away. If you prefer live performances, check out the St Ives theatre for the latest shows!

There are so many things to do in St Ives, this list hardly covers them all – check back later for more things to do while you are here. There will no time for an idle moment, and best of all, all these places are easily reached on foot, so you can maximise the time you have here!