Photo credit: T. Baxendale
Like the palm trees that thrive in the temperate climate, St. Ives’ traditions and festivals are remarkable. During the Midsummer Eve Bonfire, a Lady of the Flowers casts herbs into a blaze on a hilltop. The Hurling of the Silver Ball on Feast Monday is something like an undisciplined rugby match. Guising (dressing up in costumes) has young people running in the streets on more than one occasion, during the summer and around the New Year. Fair Mo, held just before Christmas, celebrates the keeping of pigs. And model boat sailing on Consols Pool maintains the ancient custom of launching miniature ships to placate the gods of the storm.
With the arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1877 and the advent of broad gauge trains, St. Ives opened up to the outside world and rapidly became a popular holiday resort. It is not uncommon to see hordes of schoolchildren travelling south to St. Erth and transferring to the St. Ives Bay Line. The last stretch of the journey is especially magnificent as the train rounds the curvature of the coast with spectacular views of the cliffs and ocean in all directions.
On land, a footpath follows the same route, so if you feel like you’ve not had time to take it all in, this is your second chance. It begins at the train station, becoming a narrow lane from the Warren to Westcott's Quay. Drenched in the scent of tropical gardens and sea air, the trail is sheltered by a canopy of green – just enough to cool your brow and guard your eyes from the glare of the sun on the waves.
A day at the beach isn’t complete without a taste of Cornish ice cream made from clotted cream. The distinctive dark yellow colour and flavour is unforgettable, especially if accompanied by the traditional 99 Flake chocolate stick. If you’re too peckish for sweets, you might prefer a pasty from S.H. Ferrell & Son, or some fish and chips, washed down with a glass of ale from a local pub.