St Ives, Cornwall: What to do for children
Writer Linda Harrison takes her young sons down to St Ives in Cornwall for a feast of fresh food, rolling sandy beaches and endless spectacular views, in equal amounts
Holidays in Cornwall used to mean traffic jams, bickering in the back seat and countless toilet breaks. From our home in Yorkshire, it’s an eight-hour drive. Would I tackle that journey with a toddler? Never. Well, not with mine, anyway. Our two-and-a-half-year-old son Harry isn’t a fan of the car. So, we booked a flight. Flying to Cornwall is a revelation - stress-free, quick and fairly cheap – even with a little person in tow. Our early morning flight from Doncaster Sheffield with FlyBe took just over an hour - great for children. This meant we landed on Cornish soil by 9am. It was then a two-minute walk to collect our hire car for the week and a 45-minute drive to St Ives. Amazing that you can wake in your own bed, and catch a late breakfast by the sea. If you prefer the scenic route, St Ives train station connects to Penzance, which has direct trains to London Paddington.
Wharf Watch is part of Morwenstow Apartments, a new luxury apartment complex above Porthminster beach in St Ives. We stayed with local company Aspects Holidays. We were promised a view – and boy, we really got a view. The pictures from the spacious balcony really don’t do it justice. On one side you’re looking down onto St Ives' stunning beach and harbour. On the other, you’ve got far-reaching views to miles of coastline and Godrevy Lighthouse. In between, there’s sea, sea and more sea. Wharf Watch is an upper garden-level apartment, making it really peaceful and the perfect spot for boat watching. Just glorious.
Inside, the apartment is equally impressive, with floor-to-ceiling sea views, high spec kitchen and contemporary décor. The attention to detail is lovely. Beautiful fresh flowers, welcome pack with teapot, cups, saucers, teabags, sugar and biscuits - and milk and wine in the fridge. The clever layout - open-plan kitchen and living/dining area – meant I could make breakfast while Harry played on the (very safe) balcony in the morning sunshine. It’s luxury accommodation without compromising on comfort. It’s very family friendly, with a large fridge-freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer - handy after beach days.
The main bedroom is a calm space, with king-size bed and Juliet balcony looking out to sea. Even the kids’ room is stylish. Harry loved running from one end to the other (it’s huge) - a dream den with two single beds, sofa and desk, and a cute seaside theme. Aspects holidays provided a travel cot and high chair. There’s also security-gated private parking and lift.
WHAT WE ATE
It’s a cliché, but you really are spoilt for choice in St Ives. One of the best places is the Porthminster Café. Slap bang on the beach, it’s seafood heaven. As it’s just a ten-minute stroll from the apartment’s landscaped gardens via the coastal path, we headed there for lunch on day one. Sitting on the covered terrace, sunglasses on and chilled drink in hand, it was hard to believe we’d left grey Yorkshire a few hours earlier. We instantly fell into holiday mode. The restaurant specialises in Mediterranean and Asian seafood and we feasted on pan roasted hake fillet with citrus quinoa salad, pomegranate and tempura prawns. Easily one of the best fish dishes I’ve eaten. Despite the fab menu and setting, it’s a very relaxed affair and welcomes children. Harry demolished his penne pasta with tomato, with ice cream for afters.
No proper British seaside holiday is complete without fish and chips. Harbour Fish & Chips was one of our nearest takeaways and one evening we sprinted back to the apartment with fragrant haddock, chips and minted peas. We ate them on the balcony, taking in the view. Bliss. Later in the week we had pasties on the beach (well, we were in Cornwall) from the St Ives Bakery. They also do the best bread you’ll ever eat. Just follow the smell of freshly baked loaves in the old town, and join the queue.
THINGS TO DO
There are plenty of child-friendly beaches in town. We spent a lot of time building sandcastles and paddling at Porthminster. We were incredibly lucky, with wall-to-wall sunshine. Not too shabby for the start of June. I even ventured in for a swim. St Ives town is a 15-minute walk, with quirky independent shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries on its cobbled streets, plus The Tate St Ives. The beauty of this holiday is that you can dump the car and walk everywhere.
Exploring the area
It’s perfectly possible to relax in St Ives for a week but we took a day trip to the pretty seaside town of Padstow, about an hour’s drive, and hired bikes near the Camel Trail. This is paradise: 18 miles of largely traffic-free trail along a disused railway line. We cycled from Padstow to Wadebridge and back (about 11 miles) through stunning scenery.
Cornwall is famous for its beaches and there are loads nearby – one of the closest and best for kids is Carbis Bay. There’s also plenty to do if the weather isn’t so great, including The Eden Project and Cornish Seal Sanctuary, both about an hour’s drive.
Wharf Watch is perfect for families wanting a stylish staycation and relaxing beach getaway. While we’d originally been looking for a cute fisherman’s cottage, we were completely converted to contemporary apartment holiday living.
With the contemporary design and fabulous sea view, you could be in a chic apartment overlooking the Med. The best bit? You don’t have to drag your kids abroad to experience it – this is luxury family holidaying in the very best British seaside setting.
Aspects Holidays has over 300 cottages, townhouses, apartments and villas in and around St Ives. Linda Harrison stayed at Wharf Watch (sleeps four), a new luxury apartment in St Ives. A week’s stay starts at £238 pp (£949 total). For more information, visit Aspects Holidays (01736 754242).