Hayle is a beautiful beach resort providing a sandy haven on the rocky and wild north coast of Cornwall. However, with a rich industrial heritage, important sites for birds and wildlife and literary connections, it also has so much more to offer. What are the five top reasons that you should visit Hayle this year?
Hayle boasts three miles of golden sands and the stunning beach must be at the top of any list of reasons to visit. When the sun is out and the water is turquoise, it could be the Caribbean. This illusion is quickly shattered when you dip a toe in the cold sea, but in the summer, the gulf stream ensures it is perfectly warm enough for swimming. The beach offers safe swimming with various lifeguard stations along its length. Avoid the area at the far western end of the beach where the estuary creates dangerous currents. There is a big tidal range which means the beach is different every time you visit. Safe, warm pools are created in the sands at certain times of the tide, perfect for toddlers and younger children. The beach is backed by high sand dunes for adventuring and getting lost in. After a storm, Atlantic waves come crashing and bodyboards and surfboards come out, you can hire yourself a board and sign up for a lesson.
2. Godrevy Head
Godrevy Head offers a literary lighthouse and excellent wildlife spotting. Godrevy Lighthouse perches on a rocky island just off the eastern end of the beach. Virginia Woolf was a frequent visitor to the area and first visited the lighthouse in 1892. It is said that Godrevy was the inspiration for her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse. The headland is managed by the National Trust and is a good place for a bracing walk surrounded on three sides by the ocean. Farmland is being improved to add wildflower meadows and increase biodiversity, hosting an increasing array of wildlife. There is an inaccessible cove, visible from the headland, which is a popular spot for grey seals to haul out of the water. From the clifftop, you can watch them sleeping, flopping around and popping their heads out of the choppy water.
This is a level, paved walk running for a kilometre alongside the tidal Copperhouse Pool. The walk is through gardens gloriously planted with interesting specimen trees and shrubs from around the world, surrounded by pretty flowers clinging to the shady rocks. The ornate lampposts are strung with fairy lights and there are benches offering rest spots, pools of fish and a Scent and Touch garden. The tidal large pool adjacent to the walk is an RSPB reserve and is a great place to spot wading birds at low tide. As the most westerly estuary in Britain, it attracts an impressive variety of bird species, particularly in the winter.
Hayle is perfectly situated for a day trip to the picturesque town of St Ives. Built around a fishing harbour, St Ives became renowned for its quality of light and was popular with artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Its popularity with tourists now far outstrips its capacity to accommodate guests. The town can be crowded and poor value for money. Finding accommodation and even parking is a challenge. All this can be avoided by basing yourself in Hayle, just five miles away across the bay. You can catch a bus or a train along the scenic branch line. You can even walk there in a couple of hours, a short jaunt along the South West Coast Path. All the delights of St Ives are then available, without having to stay amidst the crowds. Highlights include the Tate Art Gallery, the Barbara Hepworth museum and sculpture garden and the five excellent sandy beaches.
5. Industrial Heritage
Now a beautiful seaside resort, Hayle was once at the centre of the industrial revolution. The port in Hayle has UNESCO World Heritage Status as part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape. In the 19th century, Hayle was the main port for the export of copper ore from the mines in Cornwall to the smelters in South Wales. It was also a global centre for the manufacture of beam engines, a type of steam engine that was exported for use in mines around the world. The town's significant industrial heritage can be explored at the Hayle Heritage Centre and by walking around the town exploring the historic buildings and structures. There is a railway viaduct designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 18th-century quays and the remains of the foundry.
The St Ives town is an interesting view, the houses look as if they are pushing together to escape the sea. Where I live, near the southern tip of Mainland Australia the land at the seaside is very sandy and erosion is having a significant and worrying impact.