Cornwall’s Tin Coast is located in West Cornwall, stretching between Pendeen Lighthouse and the iconic Cape Cornwall seven miles to the south. In 2006, this area was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site to mark the significance of the landscape, which played a pivotal role in the 18th and 19th centuries when copper and tin mining was a booming industry.
Those of you who have walked the Coast Path may recall it is just one day’s walk from the lively hustle and bustle of artsy St Ives to the small, rural village of Pendeen, but they couldn’t feel more different. Tall chimney stacks and the ruins of engine houses decorate the horizon line and act as a stark reminder that, whilst quiet today, this area would have once been a hive of activity. At its height, the site boasted thousands of mine shafts, hundreds of steaming engine houses and mines that stretched out for up to a mile under the sea.
If you have time, there’s plenty of things here to keep you amused. Geevor Tin Mine is just a short walk inland where you can visit a real mine and see what life would have been like for a Cornish Miner. Walk through the historic tunnels made by men and boys 200 years ago, pan for gold and marvel at the Victory Shaft which hoisted men, materials and rock to the surface. Our friends at the National Trust also have three hubs on the Tin Coast; Botallack, Levant Mine and Beam Engine. These sites contain the best concentration of combined tin and arsenic processing sites in the world, as well as the only working beam engine still in its original site.
We’d recommend taking the tour at Botallack where you’ll learn some fantastic Cornish turns of phrase used to describe the various processes of mining. As well as learning about the pioneering equipment used; technology that was exported from this area of Cornwall to the rest of the world. You can book tours from the Botallack Counting House Workshop, which also has an on-site café and serves up fantastic Cornish pasties (a must when you’re in this part of the world!) And if you really fall in love with this area, you can even book to stay in one of the old count house building that’s been recently refurbished into a cost cottage for two.
There are exciting developments taking place here too, thanks to a recent partnership with the University of Exeter. 3D mapping of Botallack Mine means that soon you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the site, by seeing in come to life in an augmented reality. So watch this space!
To discover the Tin Coast today, download a copy of the Levant, Botallack and the Crowns walk from our website. This is an easy 3.5 mile circular walk through this patchwork landscape of tiny fields bounded by ancient stone walls and of course, dotted with iconic mine chimneys and engine houses. Happy walking!