The Sea & Me: A Weekend in St Ives

The sea and me (it rhymes OK, which pleases me, even if it’s not grammatically correct) have always had a pretty deep and meaningful thing going on. I'm never unhappy to see it, be by it, in it, or on it, at least not so far in my life. I may of course be pitched into it unexpectedly some day and then I probably won’t be so complimentary. When I know I'm about to spend some time by the sea though, I can physically feel the tight coil of anxiety in me, unfurling. So this weekend, spent in St Ives with my twin sisters and brother-in-law, was just what I needed. Apart from reuniting with my all-time love, I also managed to take a fair few photos. Head over to my Instagram if you’d like to check out more of them but otherwise here are a few of my favourites with an account of what we got up to.

Day 0.5

After lugging a yoga mat, a heavy suitcase, and a handbag stuffed with books and my camera onto the train from Sheffield to Birmingham, I was very glad to plonk myself into a car and be driven the rest of the way! It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a road trip that long with family, but 5 hours with air con and a choice of music is nothing when you’ve spent many childhood summers cocooned in the back of a warm people carrier with 3 other kids, 4 bodyboards, 5 sleeping bags, 6 sets of luggage, and with your feet sinking into a spiky pool of about 500 library books. Sometimes this did not end very well, luckily I’ve conquered motion sickness these days.

After we arrived, picked up breakfast essentials, and settled into our cute little home ("Jerantut") for the next few days, we headed down to the beautiful harbour and managed to slip into The Hub just before end of service. A pint of cider by the sea, speckled with the reflections of harbour lights, and surrounded by the hubbub of happy diners, is a beautiful thing. The burger wasn’t half bad either!

Day 1

The first day saw us up bright and early for breakfast, followed by yoga with my sister. We followed one of Adriene’s super easy morning videos and it was a lovely wake up.

Then it was out to see the sights, starting with the beautiful town, harbour, and beaches of St Ives. We walked round the harbour and then up onto “The Island” headland beyond the town, I continued on and walked up to the St Nicholas Chapel on the top of the hill whilst the others circumnavigated and checked out Porthmeor beach.

Next was Lizard Point, so we grabbed some Cornish pasties on the way back to the house (because, when in Cornwall) and I picked up my camera. Lizard Point is beautiful, unlike Land’s End, but more of that later. We had a lovely cream tea (again, when in Cornwall) and then strolled around the point and enjoyed the view. It also proved to be the perfect backdrop for an impromptu photoshoot with my sister.

Then a leisurely drive back, stopping in at Porthleven for Roskilly's ice cream at Nauti but Ice, eaten whilst watching kids jumping into the water, and finishing with Scampi and Chips eaten on the harbour back in St Ives, to complete the seaside/Cornwall foodie trilogy.

I had the best sleep I’ve had in a while that night, sea air makes me so satisfyingly sleepy.

Day 2

Up bright and early again, for solo yoga this time, then off for a trip along the scenic B3306 coastal road, headed for Land’s End. Our first stop, after a little walk through fields, was Mên-an-Tol, a humorously small, ancient monument that gave us the chance to "try" and take some false perspective pictures, you can tell me if I was successful! We also met two lovely ramblers who’d had the same idea. One of whom, a friendly older chap, that we came across lying on the floor, camera pointed up at the monument, admitted that it might have been a little disappointing but that he’d got the chance to meet “you wonderful people” so it hadn’t been at all. A pretty good outlook on things, I think.

Next stop was Botallack Mine, where parts of the BBC series Poldark were filmed. Sadly there were no gallant and passionate men on horseback, with flowing hair and abs for days. There was however a deceptively steep cliff leading down to a tiny crumbling path, across to a large chunk of rock that jutted out over the sea. The scramble down was slightly perilous, and the climb back up was … well my thighs did not thank me, some fantastic pictures though, so absolutely worth it.

From a breath-taking morning out in the wilds, to  Land’s End, scene of one of the tackiest crimes against a national treasure that I’ve ever seen. After parking up (which was £6, if you ever visit then much better to park at Sennen Cove and walk the mile or so along the coastal path) we expected to be able to walk out to the edge, enjoy the view, take a picture with the classic sign, maybe pick up a little souvenir and be on our way. Instead we were assaulted with the totally incongruous “Shaun the Sheep Experience”, “Arthur’s Quest”, and “Lost World 4D Experience”. It was horrific, even the classic sign was surrounded by railings and guarded by a photographer offering to sell personalised pictures. It was genuinely saddening to see such a beautiful, iconic site besmirched by gross capitalism. We picked up some fudge and a snow globe, took a (not personalised) picture of the sign then got out of there, in search of Sunday lunch, which we found at the First and Last Inn. 

A leisurely evening followed with a wander down to the harbour at sunset, where some kids were going crabbing. It was very tempting to get our own lines and revisit a beloved childhood pastime, but some more  Roskilly's ice cream was on the cards!

Day 3

It was an unhurried, and drizzly, start to our last full day. We headed down to the Surf Shack Café for lunch and a much needed hot chocolate before driving to St Michael’s Mount. My brother-in-law and I paid to climb to the top of the Mount and go into the Castle and Church, the latter of which has some beautiful stained glass. After making it to the top and the ramparts of the castle, we were rewarded with stunning views of a rainbow over Marazion (the town adjacent to the mount), and the surrounding sea. 

Upon seeing a photo of the Queen in the castle, I questioned the room guardian as to how she had made it up there. Surely the Queen hadn’t hiked up there, she's a strong ole gal but that's a serious hill! Apparently not. A golf buggy had been arranged to traverse the rocky incline but after the royal driver admitted he couldn't handle the hill, a local fisherman was summoned who took one look at it and declared that yes, he could do it. So, the Queen made it to the top with a little fortuitous help!

It was still overcast in St Ives by the time we got back but I was determined to both get my feet in the sea and watch the sun set one last time so I grabbed my camera and walked over to Porthmoer beach.

Sandals in hand, I strolled along the edge of the waves, stopping every now and then to let them wash over my feet, before watching the surfers for a while. For me there’s something almost inexplicably calming in the act of letting the formidable sea gently lap around your ankles. I’m not religious, but the sea is as close to a numinous experience as I’ve ever had. I love to imagine how many people have stood in the same place and felt the same thing over the decades, that raw power and beauty that, like the stars, makes humans and our little stories seem so very insignificant.

I then headed up to St Nicholas Chapel to watch the sun set. Whilst perched on a wall, enjoying the view and the still, calm that was permeating through me, I was treated to a kestrel hovering almost on my eye level, hunting. It was incredible to watch it for about half an hour, staying almost perfectly still in the face of the wind that was whipping around the hilltop, occasionally spotting something in the rocky scrub below and diving down to capture its prey.

We ended the day by meeting up back down in the harbour for dinner at The Rum & Crab Shack where we played cards and drank rum cocktails, before having a delicious lobster mac and cheese.

I was sad to be leaving the sea the next morning, but it was such a lovely weekend and I'm more certain than ever that if I get the chance to move to the coast then I will seize it with both hands!


  1. Lovely blog post - have shared on my St Ives Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/StIvesCornwall/

    1. Oh thank you! You're so lucky to live there, I hope I get to come back some day and spend a little more time on the beach and exploring. Maybe I'll give body boarding a go again for the first time in years!

    2. Hope that you get back sometime.
      Keep blogging!


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