Hayle is a small town, civil parish and cargo port in the Penwith district of Cornwall. The town, whose name derives from the Cornish heyl, meaning estuary, is at the southern end of St Ives Bay on the estuary of the Hayle River, approximately 9 mi southeast of the town of St Ives by road.
The modern town of Hayle dates from the 18th century but there has been activity on this site since the Bronze Age when traders used the port for its safe anchorage.
Hayle is famous for its association with the Cornish industry of mining and was once an important port for the exporting of copper ore in the 19th Century. Equally famous for engineering, the Harvey family had a foundry in Hayle dating from the 1770s - hence the formation of the two distinct sides of town: Copperhouse and Foundry, of which Hayle can still be loosely divided into today.
Sadly, the end of the nineteenth century saw Hayle's smelting industries going into a slow but steady decline, which would continue well into the 1900s.
During this time, the potential of Hayle as a tourist destination did not go unnoticed. The town's position by the sea and its 3 miles of sandy beaches allowed it to develop into a popular seaside resort. However the combination of warmer weather and cheap flights available to the Mediterranean during the 1980s saw the town of Hayle going into a decline once again. Nevertheless, Hayle today remains a popular destination for families with young children.
The townscape of Hayle and its historic harbour were part of the initial submission of the Cornwall and West Devon historic mining landscape World Heritage bid. On 13 July 2006 it was announced that the bid had been successful and that the historic mining landscape of Cornwall and West Devon would be added to world heritage list.
By road, Hayle can be reached via the A30 (20 miles from Truro; 7 miles from Camborne).
Hayle does have its own train station (although there is no actual station building at present) but it currently has few services. Visitors coming into Hayle via Virgin Rail have to alight at St. Erth station (half a mile from Hayle) or at the main station in Penzance (6 mi away from Hayle). Taxis can be arranged from both stations, and bus services into Hayle are alao available.
There is currently no airport serving Hayle but Newquay Airport is about 40 mi away (an hour by train).
Hayle is a relatively small town, and most places of interest are easily accessible by foot. In fact, it takes less than one hour to walk from one end of town to the other.
However, for the less energetic, there are several local taxi firms to choose from, and a number of bus services are available throughout the day which generally run from one end of town to the other via the high street.
Hayle is famous for it's Three Miles of Golden Sands, so a trip to the long, uninterrupted, stretch of beach is a must (especially during the summer months). The sea in this part of the North Cornish coast is particularly favourable for surfing and body-boarding (which are both popular past-times for the local youths).
Separating the main town from its long stretch of beach are The Hayle Towans (towans being the Cornish word for sand dunes). Once the location for Hayle's explosives works during the town's industrial peak, this vast area of unspoilt wildlife is a popular site for walks and pic nics - and many of the ruins of the factories remain in-tact, eerily providing visitors some idea of the town's industrial past.
The Mill Pond and its surrounding Rope Walk and the remains of Harvey's Foundry (now converted to a public garden) makes the ideal setting for a relaxing summer's day in the country. The pond and its surrounding gardens is also well known for its abundance of natural wildlife, as well as its habitat of swans. Furthermore Paradise Park, a wild bird sanctuary, is just a 10 minute walk up the road.
St. Elwyn's Church offers an impressive backdrop to Hayle's townscape, and it is certainly worth a visit, as is the Hayle Harbour. Once part of a thriving port (and one of the busiest ports in West England), the harbour today is mostly derelict and awaits future regeneration. However the views across the Carnsew Pool and (its past-rival) Copperhouse Pool can be stunning, especially during a sunny summer's day. On one side of Copperhouse Pool is the garden-lined St. George's Walk which offers beautiful views of the main town across the pool.
Hayle Town Centre, although much improved in recent years, remains rather grim and its evident lack of decent shopping facilities means that there isn't really very much for the visitor to do there. However, naturally, this is where most of the pubs and restaurants in Hayle are situated.
Whilst not exactly a haven for shoppers, visitors will be able to find a great range of surfing-based brands (such as Billabong, Animal, and Quiksilver) in some of the local clothing shops, which should satisfy the needs of surf enthusiasts and those wanting brands that are generally hard to find elsewhere in the country. A number of independent boutiques have also opened up in the last couple of years, although the prices may be rather steep for some.
The Hayle Industrial Park, situated just outside of town, includes a large "Marks & Spencers" department store, a "Next" store, and a "Boots" store.
Hayle isn't particularly well known for producing any one product, but a range of Cornish souvenirs, confectioneries, and postcards are available from various shops in the town centre. Those wanting to collect some traditional Cornish arts & crafts would be better off having a look in the nearby towns of St Ives and Penzance.
For the fashion-conscious, the county town (and Cornwall's only city) of Truro is just 40 minutes away by train and features all the regular high-street brands and designer shops you'd expect to find in a large city.
Post offices, convenience stores, hairdressers, and pharmacies can be found in both Copperhouse and Foundry, but most of the town's banking facilities are situated in Foundry. For everyday groceries, there is a Lidl store and a large Co-Op store in the Copperhouse end of town.
Though perhaps overshadowed by its neighbouring towns of Penzance and St Ives in terms of places to eat, Hayle nonetheless has a more-than-adequate range of great restaurants and eateries and can definitely offer something to suit any taste.
One thing Hayle certainly does not lack is a place to unwind with a good drink. Some of the most popular spots include...
Conveniently, all of these places also serve great food throughout the day!
Hayle has its fair share of Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts, which offer comfortable accommodation at reasonable prices. There are also a number of holiday parks and caravan parks available all year around. Visitors are advised to book early during the summer months to avoid disappointment.
Hayle has good transport connections with the rest of Penwith and most surrounding towns can be easily reached by bus or train.
The holiday resort of St. Ives is just 5 miles away and can be best reached by catching the No.14 bus. This beautiful harbour town is famous for its many good seafood restaurants, trendy bars, traditional shops, cobbled streets, stunning beaches and numerous art galleries - the most important being the Tate St. Ives.
Penzance is a thriving market town and can be reached by taking the No.18 bus (although other services are available) or alternatively by taking the train, both of which will take about 15 minutes. Whilst you're there make sure to visit St. Michael's Mount featuring its grand castle and located in the middle of the bay! Attached to the town's natural harbour is the Penzance Promenade (the UK's only Promenade outside of Blackpool) - but watch out for the crushing waves if you happen to be there during a windy day at high tide! Penzance has some of the best transport links in Cornwall and the world famous site of Land's End is best reached by bus via Penzance.