St Ives: A Town On Canvas
One of my favourite places in England sits in the far south-westerly reaches of the country, amongst the myths and legends of Cornish past. St Ives is a beautiful little harbour town, largely unspoilt by commercialisation. Resting at the northern tip of the A3074 (off the A30) in western Cornwall, St Ives is not easily accessible for the majority of the country but is well worth the effort. A vast myriad of narrow paths and cobbled streets remind of days gone by and offer great contrast to modern day town planning. Most of St Ives is old-school, a throwback to bygone days of uncomplicated living. Artists seem to be on every corner, benefiting from the excellent natural light as the fresh Atlantic winds blow pollution from the air.
Car parking is at a premium in St Ives during the holiday seasons and therefore it’s advisable to arrive as early as possible in the day. A good alternative is to park in Lelant and catch the train. It runs at half-hour regular intervals during high season and is reasonably priced. The short ten-minute journey takes the coastal route, part of which feels like you are directly over the water. The journey is worth taking for the view alone, a magnificent vista taking in the whole of St Ives Bay, from the town itself, stretching all the way to Godrevy Point.
However, some of the younger travellers can get somewhat restless. “SIT DOWN!” orders an irate mother whose children scurry about a crowded carriage. The smell of suncream exudes around a noisy carriage as day-trippers gather their buckets and spades ready for disembarking. The station is at the top of the high street, approximately five to ten minutes walk downhill to the harbour front. The narrow streets can get extremely congested as pedestrians and vehicles fight for the same space. Shoppers are frequently forced to move aside for passing traffic. The tight, cobbled streets are home to some enticing shops, relatively free of the typical seaside souvenir rubbish. Art galleries are everywhere, many displaying local work of St Ives and the beautiful surrounding coastline. Tiny little shops display local craftsmen’s intricate work; sometimes you can see them working on their next masterpiece. As the road winds downhill to the shore, the harbour suddenly opens up in front of you.
The smell of the salty sea breeze hits you in the face; cries of the seagulls echo about the quay. The local ice-cream tastes delicious, though beware the seagulls. My young son once had his rudely stolen from his grasp and devoured by a hungry bird!.
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