A scenic rail line between Lelant and St Ives is the best way to visit one of Cornwall’s most picturesque seaside villages (and you beat the traffic and parking too).
Arguably the most scenic branch line in Britain, catching the St Ives Bay Line from Lelant Saltings to St Ives is the best way to visit the picturesque town, particularly at sunset. It also wins for avoiding the queues into town and the stress of parking, which can be tricky during summer months.
Arriving at the Park and Ride, there is plenty room to park. Make sure to visit Scarlet Wines if you arrive early for the train – a cosy wineshop come deli come café and restaurant that serves delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners at reasonable prices.
Waiting for the train is a great way to take in the view of Hayle Estuary as it opens up in front of you; and RSBP nature reserve. More than 18,000 which have been seen here. During spring and autumn, it is an ideal place to see migrant wading birds, gulls and terns. In summer, if you are lucky, you may catch sight of an osprey.
Once aboard make sure you sit on the right hand side of the carriage for views across the sea. You’ll travel along Hayle Estuary before it opens up to the sea. From here you’ll have views of Godrevy Bay; four-miles of sand with the iconic Godrevy Lighthouse to the north – the same scene that provided inspiration for Virgina Woolf’s the lighthouse.
From here you’ll pass Porthkidney Sands and Hawkes Point, a spot popular with surfers when the swell is big. You’ll then pass the mellow yellow sands of Carbis Bay before arriving above Porthminster Beach, another family favourite for safe swimming in turquoise waters.
It’s a short but spectacular line, with the journey taking under 15 minutes. Once you’ve alighted, St Ives is a five-minute walk away through cobbled streets; a wonderful way to wind into town.
At the time of writing, the cost to park all day at Lelant Saltings was £2.80 per car. Train tickets are available to prebook and from the train conductor from £2 single, and £4 return with unlimited rides. Up to two dogs may be taken on trains free of charge.