South West Coast Path: St Ives Railway Station to the Harbour

In which: I spurn a taxi ● there is no one home ● I have a walk on the beach

Date: 20 March 2008
Time of walk: 1725 to 1745
Today’s walking: 2.0 km
Progress along SWCP: 1.2 km
Estimated ascent: 30 metres

The journey to St Ives began familiarly enough at Edmonton Green railway station, where I found my right knee was twinging, which was not a good omen for a walking holiday. At Paddington, determined to get good value from my first class ticket, I went to the first class lounge: this was the only the second time I can recall travelling first class in the UK, and my first visit to a first class lounge. It wasn’t that exciting, but there were comfy chairs to sit on, toilets that didn’t cost 20p to use; I also got myself a free drink, banana and mini croissant. Annoyingly, there were free copies of the Times – annoying since I’d already bought a copy.

I got myself onto the 1205 departure in good time, where I found more free copies of the Times. This journey of over 300 miles was a good advertisement for rail travel, running to time and allowing me to read, eat, drink and watch DVDs while the countryside went past. The countryside was very pleasant, particularly from Exeter when there was a lot of sea and estuary, as well as vast numbers of viaducts as we travelled through Cornwall – while I wouldn’t be walking along this bit of Cornwall, it was still a hint of the amount of up and down I will face – the railway might be able to stay high above, but I will have to descend and ascend to cross each stream and headland.

With windy and cold weather predicted for the Easter weekend, with snow over much of the country, I think Cornwall will be the best place to be, with temperatures forecast to be 5 or 6 degrees warmer than in London. And as if to cement that thought, at St Erth, where I waited for the train to St Ives, the platforms were lined with palm trees, a sure sign that the climate is different here. The day had been very overcast, with drifting mizzle as we came through Cornwall, and it was very windy waiting on the station platform. While there may be some showers, I think it isn’t likely to be particularly wet, but wind does look as though it will feature during most of the four days.

The one-carriage “train” from St Erth took us through what the driver described as “cabbage patch, mumble mumble, and mumble mumble, to mumble mumble”, with enticing views across the River Hayle and the sea.

From near St Ives railway station, looking back across Porthminster Beach
St Ives harbour

At St Ives, it was only 1.3km or so to the B&B, so I scorned the idea of a taxi and walked through the town. It was a good opportunity to see a bit of the place in daylight, and get a couple of photos of the harbour, but it was hard work with the heavy suitcase. I found Cornerways Guesthouse with no problem, but ringing the bell outside and the bell inside produced no welcome. After a bit of exploration inside, I went outside and phoned their telephone number – at first it was engaged, which was somewhat encouraging, and a minute or two later I got through and was reassured that they were two seconds away. It was more like ten seconds before they appeared, but I could forgive that, especially as I got a hearty welcome when they came around the corner.

After settling in at the B&B, I went out again. After a while looking around, I found a place which looked nice for dinner, and was only a third full, but they told me that they couldn’t fit me in for an hour and a half. In the end I had fish and chips in the upstairs of a fish and chip shop, overlooking the harbour, accompanied by an acceptable mini bottle of wine, after which I went for a walk on the beach.

The harbour with the tide mostly out

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