Redruth Mining Heritage Circular, December 16

Walk details

  • Route Redruth – Carn Brea – Brea – High Condrurrow – St Edward’s Mine, Grenville United Mines – Great Flat Lode through Carnkies to Wheal Buller – Church Town – Redruth
  • Distance Viewfinder says 9.18m, although as it’s on interval polling for power saving, I think this understates it.
  • Duration 5hrs 20
  • Getting there U2 from Falmouth
  • Weather Mild Cornish winter day, rounded off with typical Cornish mizzle.

Why this route?

  • Down in the West Country for the holidays, we wanted an inland route as a contrast to much of the South West Coast Path we were otherwise doing.
  • We like industrial archaeology, and where better than the UNESCO world heritage site of Redruth. The area between Redruth and Camborne was the centre of the Cornish mining industry, which provided both raw materials and technological advances to fuel the Industrial Resolution.

What did we learn?

  • This is the walking of my childhood: muddy.  I upgraded my boots at the end of November and am glad of the investment.
  • Cornwall is surprisingly small. Never having driven or walked it I had no idea of distances but standing on Carn Brea we were no more than 10 miles from the sea to the north and south.
  • It is also incredibly densely settled. While the population density is probably lower than in the past, peninsular geography means that settlements are surprisingly close together. Distinct villages, towns and hamlets are often closer than the suburbs of Leeds are to each other.

Walk highlights

  • Carn Brea Castle – built as a nineteenth century hunting lodge, now a restaurant serving Mezze food, sadly only open in the evenings. It is literally built on top of the rocks. As in: perched on.
  • The Cornobian batholiths (large grantite outcrops)  on Carn Brea itself.
  • The dense archaeological remains of the mines along the Great Flat Lode. At the time they would have been dirty, dangerous and noisy, but now in ruin they are as cathedrals. Wheal Bassett and Wheal Frances in particular are breath-taking in their scale.
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