Following my recent visit to West Cornwall, I have compiled the best and worst St Ives and the surrounding areas have to offer. There is something for everyone, every kind of weather and different tastes. We were based just outside St Ives and the selections are either a walk or a short drive from our accommodation.
Catch some rays at St Ives Porthminster Beach – Weather permitting, any trip to Cornwall should include a trip to a beach. St Ives has five fabulous sandy beaches around the town, a beach for surfing, a beach for watching the harbour goings, a secluded small beach but my favourite was Porthminster beach with its long sandy bay and stunning views of St Ives. Top Tip: When you get peckish you can satisfy your hunger at the award winning Porthminster Beach Café, a touch pricey (with lunch mains around £10-£30) but the Goats Cheese tart was sublime.
Going Underground at Geevor Mine - If the weather takes a turn for the worse, head underground at Geevor Mine and experience the cramped, damp conditions of the Cornish tin miners. Our guide gave a fascinating insight with stories and facts about the now defunct industry. Did you know there is no actual evidence that the miners ate Cornish Pasties, as they probably couldn’t afford to buy the meat filling! (Entrance £9.75 for an adult) Top Tip: Don’t wear your best shoes and clothes as going down a mine can get you dirty! You are given lab coats and a hard hat to wear before you enter.
Wander the Bottalack Coastline - The tin mining history continues by taking a walk along the rugged coastline at Bottalack with the two crumbling engine houses at Crown mine clinging to the rocky coastline. Since the mine closed in 1914 these impressive structures, although protected, are left to decay along the Atlantic Coast. Do keep an eye our for Grey Seals that shelter along the rocks. Top Tip: Take the circular walk along the coast and around to the Geevor Mine.
Go Wading at Saint Michaels Mount – In low tide, follow the yellow brick road across to the mount visit the St Aubyn family home. The French won’t be happy with me saying this, but I think I prefer Saint Michaels Mount to their World Heritage Site status Mont Saint Michel. The whole experience seemed more intimate and less commercial. However, entrance is £7.00 for an adult. Top Tip: Check the tide times before you leave, as you may not be able to walk back, however there are boats at hand for a small fee (£1.50 each way).
Marvel at the Harbour at Mousehole – The charming fishing cove of Mousehole (or Muzel if your Cornish) on the south coast is a delightful fishing port protected by a sea wall. With Saint Michaels Mount visible through the harbour entrance there can be no greater spot to enjoy that Cornish Cream Tea you have been longing for. Top Tip: Parking in the high season can be challenging. It might be worth parking as you descend towards the town and walk down to the harbour.
Get Inspired at Tate Modern St Ives - St Ives is famous for art, something to do with the great light. The Tate is quite small and houses interesting installations. The exhibits change throughout the year, we experienced a room full of balloons which you could walk in, pictures made from driftwood and a room where your name and date of visit were placed on a wall at the level of your height, which gave a fascinating effect. Entrance is £6.25 per adult. Top Tip: Take your camera, although you are not allowed to photograph the works of art, the views of St Ives outside the café are breathtaking.
The Eden Project – The very popular Eden project is around 30 miles from St Ives but worth the extra effort. Wander through the foliage of the Mediterranean and Tropical Biomes (similar climatic ecosystems). Each Biome contains a large collection of plants and trees from around the world. The Tropical Biome is incredibly hot and humid. As you wander around the site, keep a look out for sculptures such as The Bee. Top Tip: Try and combine your visit with a live concert, great value (We paid £20 each for entrance and The Flaming Lips concert).
Lands End – It’s the end of the land, which is all you need to know. There are many other places in West Cornwall where the land ends, it is called the coast! I know Lands End is the furthest point west, but does that really warrant a tacky theme park? Top Tip: Spend your time wiser by visiting a charming Cornish fishing village.
I have only touched the surface of (with the exception of the Tin Mining!) this glorious part of the West Country. There are so many beautiful villages tucked into every nook and cranny of Cornwall. Do make the effort to visit one day, wherever you may be in the World. Dha weles!
Recommended Reading: Our recommended Cornwall read is Tessa Hainsworth’s delightful tales from a small Cornish village. Tessa and her husband Ben left London for the West Country in search of a new life, the book chronicles their ups and downs of being accepted by a new community.
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