Welcome to Rock Cottage, where you are about 150 yards from Porthminster Beach if the tide is in or high, and only around 50 yards away when it’s out, like this.
Regularly voted the U.K.’s top seaside resort, St Ives has a rich and fascinating heritage, much of which is covered in Slices of St Ives.
Apart from being a history lesson, ‘Slices…’ shows all the town’s major areas and their proximity to each other – nothing is very far away from Rock Cottage. For a simple streetmap, showing the town’s layout in relation to the beaches this map quite good.
Due to its length (20 minutes), and for ease of navigation, this ‘index’ marks the start point in the video of various featured items :
0.14 Photo showing the relative positions of the 3 bathing beaches and the harbour
0.34 The significance of the Parish church
1.39 The harbour/fishing industry
4.50 The Court Cocking Inferno
5.24 The Wesleyan Chapel/Kidz R Us Theatre
6.25 The Lifeboat men
8.35 Porthminster Beach
11.41 HMS Wave runs aground at the St Ives Arts Club
12.20 In and around the town centre – The Guildhall/Library/Trewyn Gardens
14.17 The War Memorial
14.56 In and around ‘Downalong’ (the oldest part of St Ives)
15.40 Alfred Wallis
16.19 The Leach Pottery
17.03 St Ives victims and survivors of the Titanic disaster
18.16 Porthmeor Beach/The Island
19.00 The wreck of SS Alba
St Ives has a quite sensational youth theatre company. Founded in 1994, Kidz R Us have put on over 70 shows and played London’s West End and the famous clifftop Minack Theatre (see video below). The St Ives Theatre is more or less opposite the Royal Cinema in the town centre. This shows the theatre and the Kidz performing 3 numbers from the 2014 panto at their 2014 Christmas Bazaar. Don’t miss them if there’s a show on while you are here – this summer’s big show is the legendary ‘West Side Story’. For more information visit kidzrus.net or call the Box Office 01736 797007.
St Ives has many ceremonies and traditions which reach back to a long-distant past, but this one will always be ancient – and contemporary. If you are here on Remembrance Sunday and/or Armistice Day please join us at the War Memorial at the Parish Church.
A very special day …
If you’re here in early December look out for the man in the red suit.
During the Christmas period there are several chances to meet Santa in his grotto, like these children did
Long before the era of mass tourism fishing was the major industry. Pilchard seining was quite a spectacle and you can still see reminders of those days as you walk around the harbour and Porthminster. This walk was part of the 2014 St Ives September Festival and hopefully will be next year too.
Just 50 yards from Rock Cottage, at the bottom of The Warren, is Westcott’s Quay. Today it is an idyllic spot to sit and gaze at the harbour but in 1952 it was the scene of a dramatic shipwreck and rescue. Here’s the story :
The end of January in 1938 and 1939 saw our two great lifeboat disasters – if you are lucky you may be able to see what’s left of the wreck of the Alba on Porthmeor Beach.
Almost a year later saw our most terrible lifeboat disaster, when the John and Sarah Eliza Stych was lost in January 1939. The boat washed up at Gwithian, a delightful piece of National Trust land about 7 miles/25 minutes from St Ives, with great views of Godrevy Lighthouse, the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘To The Lighthouse’.
You can find out more about all this history, ceremonies and traditions at the delightful St Ives Museum (open Easter – October, check for the exact dates.)
The St Ives Food and Drink Festival is held on Porthminster Beach over a weekend in mid May. Here’s what it looked like in 2013.
In 2014 the weather was better still. It’s not just about food and drink, there’s music too, and here we have Kidz R Us entertaining Festival visitors with a preview from one of this summer’s shows.
As winter gives way to Spring, where better for a bracing stroll than our glorious beaches ?
Every day the receding tide reveals a number of decaying wooden posts behind Smeaton’s Pier. If you don’t know what they are this will tell you
As we bid farewell to summer the town hosts the biggest and best music and arts festival in the South West. The St Ives September Festival takes place over the middle fortnight of the month. In 2014 there were over 300 listed events, including a great gig by Andy Fairweather Low and the Low Riders :
Over its long and interesting history St Ives has many acquired several traditional ceremonies.
St Ives Feast Day is held on the first Monday after 3rd February – here’s the 2013 event.
In early March we celebrate St Piran’s Day with a short parade around the town and along The Wharf. St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall and is credited with discovering tin.
In comparison with ‘Feast Day’, ‘John Knill’ and ‘Fair Mo’ Model yacht sailing on Consols Pond, at only around 100 years old may be seen as a fairly recent tradition. This is the scene up there from 10 a.m. until around noon on Good Friday so if you’re here at Easter why not walk up to the top of The Stennack and take a look ?
May Day sees the ceremonial welcoming of summer when May Day Royalty leads the parade around the town from The Guildhall. This ancient ceremony first took place in 1573 and was revived in 2000.
And on Mayor’s Day local children get to drink from one of our most prized possessions – the Loving Cup.
Every 5 years, since the first one in 1801 we stage the John Knill celebrations on the Feast Day of St James. Here’s the most recent ceremony (25 July 2011). See you at the next one in 2016 ?
Another very ancient ceremony is the Fair Mo. Look out for this on the last Saturday of November or the first one in December.
And we are one of the top destinations to see in the New Year with our giant fancy dress party and midnight fireworks display from Smeaton’s Pier. Here’s what happened last time
If you’re here during the 12 days of Christmas you may bump into the St Ives Guisers.
When the New Year crowds have left tranquility returns. Of course it may be chilly but still beautiful, as this shows
… but every now and then there’s a chance to watch the waves – or get splashed by them !
Our other firework fiesta is on November 5th, when a large crowd gathers on Porthminster Beach to celebrate (if that’s the right word) Guy Fawkes night.
See St Ives from a different angle – Camaret-sur-Mer is twinned with St Ives and in September 2103 their twinning committee spent a couple of days here and went out on the Dolly P for a whistle-stop tour of St Ives Bay, from one end to the other. It was misty – but mild, and great fun.
Either side of that boat ride was this welcome meeting at the Guildhall and farewell coffee morning at the St Ives Arts Club at Westcott’s Quay at the bottom of The Warren.
If you’re here in August look out for the Raft Race in the harbour
The St Ives September Festival (second and third weeks of the month) is the biggest and best arts/music festival in the South West. Its traditional curtain-raiser, organised by by the St Ives Jumbo Association takes place the week before. This is the 2014 Boats In The Bay spectacle
The Jumbo Association also organises occasional scully races in the harbour. Here’s the last of the 2014 season when St Ives took on Newquay.
The September Festival may be over and the crowds will have gone but the sun may still be with us, as in 2014.
When high winds coincide with a Spring Tide we get this
In August 2012 an unusual floating object paid us a visit – Nowhereisland. It didn’t stay long but a self-drive boat trip between the harbour and Porthminster Beach is still a fine way to spend three-quarters of an hour or so.
Now owned by the Tate, the Barbara Hepworth Museum showcases the work of the legendary sculptor. You save over 20% from the standard admission fees by geting a combined ticket to Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden (one day visit to each site during a 7 day period).
Rock Cottage was once ‘Cortina’, St Ives’ first open-air coffee/tea garden (1964). This tells its story.
Want a close-up look at Godrevy Lighthouse ? Try this
How about a boat trip to Seal Island ?
St Ives is also a great base for exploring other parts of far South West Cornwall, for example :
The Deep South – Kynance Cove, Lizard Point and Cadgwith Cove are all about an hour away by car.
The Lizard Peninsula has the UK mainland’s most southerly point, and the most westerly is not far away – at Land’s End. It has become something of a theme park but there’s plenty of spectacular scenery to enjoy for the price of the parking fee (£3).
En route to Land’s End you pass a turning down to the best beach in this area – Sennen Cove. A particular favourite of surfers this wide bay is suited to all the family.
Also close to Land’s End and Sennen Cove is the world-famous Minack Theatre at Porthcurno. Although it’s only 20 miles from St Ives by road it takes about an hour to drive, so you may wish to let Oates Travel (office in the High Street, near Market Place) take care of the transport so all you have to think about is the scenery and the show. If you are there in the day it is still well worth a visit to see not just the theatre but also the Rowena Cade exhibition centre, which explains how a remarkable and determined woman created this unique venue.
St Michael’s Mount (8 miles/25 minutes by car) – follow signs for Marazion off the A30 as you near Penzance.
Olympic Torch Relay Day 1 (19 May 2012) at Marazion in front of St Michael’s Mount.
Cape Cornwall, Cadgwith and Restronguet Creek.
Lizard Point – the most southerly point on the U.K. mainland.
Porthleven, Loe Bar and Polurrian Cove.
The King Harry Ferry – great views and saves you a drive of 27 miles !
If you are thinking about exploring Cornwall’s south coast beyond Land’s End and The Lizard Peninsula, how about one or two of these :
Gorren Haven and Mevagissey
and the delightful fishing village of Polperro – about 2 hours by car from St Ives
Over on the north coast Port Isaac (55 miles, 75 minutes) is well worth a visit. As with The Minack, let Oates Travel take the strain. This video shows a walk around the village, passing famous ‘landmarks’ from the famous ‘Doc Martin’ TV series
and this explains Port Isaac’s ‘real life’ history.
12 miles north of Port Isaac is the legendary Tintagel Castle, alleged birthplace of King Arthur.
Back ‘down south’ a Fal river cruise is a great way to see Truro (25 miles away) and Falmouth (about 30). This one left from Truro, or rather Malpas as the tide was out, but you pick up the bus at Garras Wharf, Truro (by Tesco) when this happens. The ride takes about 75 minutes each way.
While in Falmouth be sure to spend a couple of minutes at the St Nazaire Memorial at the Prince of Wales pier.
Falmouth Week – when 450 boats do battle in the waters where Sir Ben Ainslie honed the skills that would bring Olympic immortality.
Before there was tourism there was tin and copper. For a look at life in the ‘Poldark era’ take the B3306 out of town past Zennor. Geevor Tin Mine Museum is 12 miles from here – go underground and see if you could do a shift down there !
To be continued …