Satisfy your thirst for art and fine dining during an off-season break in St Ives, Cornwall. Like Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, Frost came into the ever-changing light, and his use of color and abstract forms helped launch a new artistic movement in England, the St Ives School.
St Ives. Bay
St Ives has always attracted artists because of its unique lighting. Clouds and rain are constantly alternating with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, especially at this time when the season is gradually turning to autumn.
This is the ideal time to take a short break here and move for the travel. The golden-sand beaches are now devoid of bathers, Downlong’s laneways where old cottages like ours gather for comfort must look as they did centuries ago (except for the occasional trash can), and you can get a seat in most beaches and restaurants.
Come in the evening, and St Ives becomes even more intimate, pubs cozier and above all welcoming, after you’ve walked a short distance from your cottage with the scent of salt spray on your tongue.
It’s good to walk a little unsteadily toward your cozy home, invisible waves lapping in the darkness and the occasional shadow of a late-night seagull gliding across the sky.
Around The City
The next morning, when you wake up to a clear blue sky, you will have a strong urge to eat a hearty breakfast. You can make your own delicious sandwiches from local shops and ingredients from your welcome basket, but it’s best to walk around the corner in the other direction from the harbor to a little “secret” beach. Here you will find the Porthgwidden Beach cafe. Nestled within glass walls, with a large herring on your plate, you can marvel at the brave swimmers who bathe daily in the waves a few meters away. They also make a great lunch here.
St Ives is well worth the walk. The cobbled streets are home to a variety of shops, almost all of which are dog-friendly, some fun and vintage, and others an outpost of stylish beachwear brands like Seasalt, Superdry, and Crew. In Johns, you’ll find a wide variety of beers, ales, spirits, honey, and Cornish wines, while small artists’ pottery and painting studios can be found on every street. Pastries are also appealing everywhere.
The Story Of Fishing And Art
Before art and tourism, St Ives became rich by fishing for sardines. From about 1750 to about 1880, large numbers of men, boys, and women were employed to catch fish, process it, and deposit it in barrels in London, until the fish stock was exhausted.
You can see great old photos of the sardines industry in St Ives, as well as the macabre history of shipwrecks, in the quaint, ramshackle St Ives Museum. Or wickedly you can save a few pounds by looking at all the photos of Union Bar, a great pub we’ve been back to many times
There is, of course, the Tate St Ives gallery, which offers majestic views of the bay and displays exhibits from the modern St Ives school of painters, as well as a fusion of modern and contemporary British and international art.
Right next door, the Barbara Hepworth Museum is housed in her former home and garden, while the Penwith Gallery and Porthminster Gallery, housed in former sardines presses, are both worth a visit. Just outside St Ives is the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden and Gallery, but check before visiting as the gardens are closed on windy days.
Dining In St Ives, Cornwall
There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from as you feel fit. Porthminster Beach, below the slopes of Porthminster Point with views of St Ives Bay to Godrevy Lighthouse (made famous by Virginia Wolff), is the perfect spot for Asian-style seafood.
Tucked away in a side lane, Mermaid Seafood Restaurant is one of St Ives’ oldest and most romantic restaurants. The Lemon Sole, Seabass, and Gurnard plates here use a lot of extremely fresh fish, which simply makes the fish shine. Also, try One Fish Street Restaurant, located where it says it is, for more delicious food at the right price.
A Kitchen: Pork Belly On Rav Celeriac
Outside the City of London, Adam Handle’s Ugly Butterfly is located on the posh grounds of Carbis Bay, near St Ives. In the neighborhood kitchen of Una Kitchen, which won silver at the 2022 Cornwall Tourism Awards and is located in the new Una Resort complex, the food is less ‘fee dining and much better priced. Chef Glenn Gatland’s celeriac, mashed potatoes, and applesauce bacon is a standout, plus it has great views.
Packet Inn Butterfly Sardines
If you visit Prussia Cove, Praa Sands, Porthleven, or St Michael’s Mount, you’ll find the Packet Inn along the way, a former charioteer’s inn that’s now modernized into a great service space with a great range of ‘small plates’ based on extremely local production costs. The smoked lamb shoulder, chili, pangrattato, and grana Padano were amazing, as was a plate of local charcuterie and a plate of local sardines with smoked beetroot and horseradish creme fraiche.