Whether you’re looking for fresh local ingredients to whip up a feast in your self-catering cottage, or locally inspired treasures to bring back memories of your stay, shopping in Cornwall can be one of the highlights of your holiday. Leave the chaos and crowds of shopping malls behind and enjoy delving into backwater boutiques, browsing galleries and filling your shopping bags with artisan goodies from handmade chocolates or pasties to Cornish crafts. With the sand still between your toes and the beaches still in sight, in St Ives you can dip into a cluster of unique and independent shops a pebble’s throw from the sea.
The harbour-side lanes of St Ives are laced with surf shacks, art dens, bookstores, galleries and unique boutiques selling gifts and clothing for every occasion. Take the scenery home on a canvas, buy a book signed by a local author and splash out on a wetsuit or a party suit. It’s in the backwater alleys that you’ll unearth the most unusual artisan gems, such as the stained glass, driftwood sculptures and beach-inspired jewellery sold by local artists in the Sloop Craft Market’s little enclave of studios.
Beyond St Ives, you can always turn a sightseeing trip into a shopping expedition. Whether you’ve been gawping at the cathedral in Truro, stomping the South West Coast Path or soaking up the saltwater lifestyle, you’ll stumble across artists’ studios, local craft stores and specialist shops brimming with Cornish-inspired gems. With a jam-packed calendar of art and crafts markets throughout the county, check with the tourist office for details of art events such as Open Studios, the Made in Cornwall Fair and artisan markets held at Trereife House and the Bedruthan Steps Hotel.
Back in St Ives, the town’s foodie reputation is fast chasing that of Padstow, so it’s little wonder that the town’s delis, fishmongers and bakeries are piled high with gourmet delights. Pack your picnic hamper with artisan bread, crumbly cheeses and cured meats from The Allotment Deli and The Digey Food Room, to be washed down by Cornish cider or award-winning Camel Valley wine. Make sure you save room for a box of I Should Co Co’s exquisite chocolates, handmade using Cornish cream.
Playing chef in your holiday home? Visit the farmers’ market for seafood flipped fresh off the fishing boats, a rainbow of veg picked from the surrounding countryside and succulent meats reared on local farms; then spice up your cooking with a sprinkling of flavour from the Halzephron Herb Farm Shop. The St Ives Farmers’ Market is held in the Guildhall each Thursday, but you can find other farmers’ markets scattered around the county (Truro on Wednesday and Saturday, Falmouth on Tuesday) or pop into one of the local farm shops such as nearby Trevaskis Farm – where you can pick your own fruit, visit the animals and pause for a lip-smacking Cornish cream tea.