St Ives is a little Cambridgeshire market town with bags of timeless charm. It’s full of quirky independent shops and cafés – and the riverside area is beautiful.
We spent a happy few hours in St Ives last week and I was reminded why I love it. It’s not far from Ely and Cambridge, yet has a very different feel. My family lived there when I was a baby, and I have lots of happy childhood memories of trips to the market and quaint little tearooms by the river. I hadn’t been back for about ten years, but it didn’t take long for me to fall for St Ives’ charms all over again…
The best thing about St Ives is the river with its charming medieval bridge and the pretty views across the meadows. It’s a lovely area, just a few steps from the main shopping street and market. Stroll across over the pedestrianised bridge and enjoy the view out over the meadows. From here, it’s easy to take riverside walk here towards the Hemingfords and Houghton, or you can turn back and walk along the river to the the nearby Norris Museum.
Lunch by the river
We stopped for lunch at the River Terrace Cafe. It’s in a gorgeous old building and has a terrace right on the river. This friendly café does breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and everything in between! We braved the cold and had our avocado on toast on the terrace wrapped in blankets. Delicious food and a great view – what more can you want?
There’s still a satisfying sense of independence amongst St Ives’ shops. Like most small British towns, it has its fair share of charity shops and chains – however they don’t dominate. There’s a great mixture of the useful and the unusual – an old fashioned pet shop, a gorgeous gallery and a pink flower shop all sit happily alongside each other. I’m not saying it’s the most exciting shopping ever – but if you want to buy a pretty card, browse some antiques or choose a treat from a little independent clothes shop then you’re sorted. Market Days are Monday and Friday.
After a wander round the shops, we stopped for tea at Tom’s Cakes. This tiny and very popular café is in the old tollhouse near the market. It’s gorgeous inside and out, and they do the best cakes to eat in or take away. It was the perfect end to our stroll round St Ives.
How to get there
St Ives is 5 miles from Huntingdon and about 17 miles from Cambridge. There’s no train station, but there are plenty of buses along the guided busway route from Cambridge. We drove and parked in the Cattle Market long-stay car park.
We’re already planning a return visit to St Ives very soon!
There are lots of things to do in St Ives and I can’t wait to go back soon. Top of my list will be a walk along the meadows and a trip on the river.