Mining Trail Routes in Cornwall

The rich mining area of Cornwall’s central mining district now benefits from a 60km network of multi activity trails. New trails have been created to link in with existing routes such as the Coast to Coast and the Great Flat Lode Trails and, being mainly trafficfree, offer improved and safer access to schools, places of work, local facilities, historic settlements and visitor attractions. The network of trails also offers people a unique opportunity to access a wide area that is rich in mining heritage. Much of the trails network closely follows the tramway and railway routes once used to transport ore and vital supplies to and from the area’s many tin and copper mines to ports such as Devoran and Portreath. Whether you are a walker, cyclist or horse-rider, the expanded network offers a wealth of opportunities to exercise both mind and body. It combines better access to the carefully conserved remains of this unique mining area with spectacular views, exceptional wildlife and healthy activity. Some innovative engineering techniques have been incorporated into the project including the use of recycled materials. The Mineral Tramways Heritage Project is a £6 million Regeneration Project. It is managed by Cornwall Council and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, SW Regional Development Agency, Objective One, Cornwall Council, and Parish and Town Councils in the project area.

Mineral Tramways Coast to Coast

Distance 11 miles (17.5km)

Ascent 258ft

The Coast to Coast Trail provides the user with a unique opportunity to literally ride or walk across Cornwall in a day, from one coast to another as the trail links the historic mining harbour of Portreath on the North coast and port of Devoran on the South coast. Enjoy spectacular scenery and a variety of wildlife as the trail passes through ancient woodland and heathland. The trail gives a unique insight in to the area’s mining heritage as you pass by historic mine sites now transformed by nature

The Coast to Coast Trail closely follows the line of two transport routes. The early horse-worked Portreath tramroad opened in 1812. This was the first surface tramroad in Cornwall. It gave the copper mines around Scorrier and St Day a transport route to the sea at Portreath. The other was the Redruth & Chasewater Railway. This was built from 1825 and linked the town of Redruth and mines around Gwennap, then the richest copper producing area in the world, to the port of Devoran on the south coast.

Nature of trail: Generally level and mostly off-road.

Where to park: Portreath Beach Car Park, Bike Chain Bissoe Bike Hire (free parking to customers of café or cycle hire), Grenna Lane car park Carnon Valley.

Links in with: The Wheal Busy Loop, the Tolgus Trail and the Redruth & Chasewater Railway Trail which in turn links in with the rest of the network of trails.

Points of interest: The Coast to Coast Trail provides the user with a unique opportunity to literally ride or walk across Cornwall in a day, from one coast to another as the trail links the historic mining harbour of Portreath on the North coast and port of Devoran on the South coast. Enjoy spectacular scenery and a variety of wildlife as the trail passes through ancient woodland and heathland. The trail gives a unique insight in to the area’s mining heritage as you pass by historic mine sites now transformed by nature

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Tehidy Trail

Distance 2½ miles (4km)

This multi-use trail through the parkland setting of Tehidy links with the Portreath Branchline Trail and enables users to either visit Portreath and pick up the Coast to Coast Trail or head towards Camborne and link up with the Great Flat Lode Trail.

The Tehidy Trail is based on the existing network of tracks and trails through Tehidy Country Park, former home of Sir Francis Basset, Lord de Dunstanville, whose memorial crowns Carn Brea.

Nature of trail: Some steep sections but otherwise relatively flat.

Where to park: East Lodge Car Park, Tehidy Country Park or in Portreath.

Links in with: The Portreath Branchline Trail and the Coast to Coast Trail.

Points of interest: This multi-use trail through the parkland setting of Tehidy links with the Portreath Branchline Trail and enables users to either visit Portreath and pick up the Coast to Coast Trail or head towards Camborne and link up with the Great Flat Lode Trail.

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Portreath Branchline

Distance 5½ miles (8.8km)

The Trail will connect the coastal village of Portreath with Illogan, passing under the Portreath Incline and using the route of the Portreath Branchline where possible. A mix of quiet roads and off-highway links extend the trail through to Cornwall College at Pool and on to Tuckingmill Valley Park where the trail follows the Red River Valley to Brea

In 1836 the Hayle Railway was constructed to link the engineering works and harbour quays at Hayle with the copper mines around Camborne and Redruth. It had two major branches, the one up to the Tresavean mine above Lanner and the other down to the port of Portreath. The line was standard gauge (4’ 8 ½”) and used steam locomotives from the start. The steam hauled section to Portreath terminated at the top of the hill and was connected to the port by a massive incline. The Portreath Incline was double tracked and wagons were raised and lowered from and to the harbour by a stationary steam engine mounted at the top. The Portreath branch continued as a successful freight line until its closure in 1936.

Nature of trail: The trail connects Portreath on the north coast with Brea Village and Penhallick Leats, and links with the popular Great Flat Lode Trail. It includes some sections of highway and one main road crossing which is unsuitable for horses.

Where to park: Public parking is available at Portreath and there is easy access to the trail from Tehidy East Lodge car park. Links in with: The Coast to Coast Trail, the Tehidy Trail and the Great Flat Lode Trail.

Points of interest: The Trail will connect the coastal village of Portreath with Illogan, passing under the Portreath Incline and using the route of the Portreath Branchline where possible. A mix of quiet roads and off-highway links extend the trail through to Cornwall College at Pool and on to Tuckingmill Valley Park where the trail follows the Red River Valley to Brea

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Great Flat Lode

Distance 7½ miles (12km)

The Great Flat Lode Trail follows part of the line of the Basset Mine Tramway, built to carry tin ore from the mines along the side of the valley for processing at Wheal Basset Stamps. The remains of Cornwall’s last tin smelter can be visited near Carnkie. Carn Brea, once an ancient fortified hill settlement can be climbed for superb panoramic views which will include the tall steel headgear of South Crofty, Cornwall’s last tin mine.

In the 1860s, when many copper mines were closing, a ‘lode’ of tin ore was discovered to the South of Carn Brea in an area that previously worked copper deposits. This lode, over 2 miles long, was also flatter than most, lying at an angle of about 30 degrees instead of the usual 70 degrees from the horizontal – hence its name, the “Great Flat Lode”. The tin mines here were some of the most successful in the late 19th Century and produced over 90,000 tons of tin concentrate. The mines here closed about 1920. Since then the area has remained relatively undeveloped and it now contains some of Cornwall’s finest remains of engine houses, tin dressing floors and other mining structures. The Trail not only runs south of Carn Brea, but also to the north of the hill, where some of Cornwall’s most celebrated mines are situated.

Nature of trail: A circiular route with some steep sections. Mostly off-road taking you through a mixture of farmland, heathland and old mine sites. A circular route.

Where to park: South Wheal Frances, Dolcoath Mine and at King Edward Mine Museum (where you can visit a free exhibition all about the Mineral Tramways).

Links in with: Deviate up onto Carn Brea to enjoy the views and/or join up with the Portreath Branchline Trail or the Redruth & Chasewater Railway Trail and link in with the rest of the Mineral Tramways network of trails.

Points of interest: The Great Flat Lode Trail follows part of the line of the Basset Mine Tramway, built to carry tin ore from the mines along the side of the valley for processing at Wheal Basset Stamps. The remains of Cornwall’s last tin smelter can be visited near Carnkie. Carn Brea, once an ancient fortified hill settlement can be climbed for superb panoramic views which will include the tall steel headgear of South Crofty, Cornwall’s last tin mine.

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Redruth and Chacewater Railway

Distance 7.7 miles (12.4km)

The Redruth & Chacewater Railway Trail branches off from the Coast to Coast Trail at Twelveheads and follows a route of contrasting scenery (woodland and moorland) with spectacular views across Cornwall. Following as closely as possible the original railway route the trail bypasses the villages of Carharrack and Lanner. Gwennap Pit is close by and Carn Marth can be accessed from the trail. The trail then continues to the west of Lanner before connecting in to the Great Flat Lode Trail and Tresavean Trail at Buller Hill.

The origins of Cornwall’s first railway to use wrought-iron rails and wagons with flanged wheels can be traced back to 1818. In 1825 it was completed, with horses drawing wagons from the mines around Gwennap to the port of Devoran. The line was successful and in 1854 it was converted for steam locomotives. The decline in Cornish mining fortunes led to its closure in 1915. 

Nature of trail: The trail is based for the most part on the route of the original Redruth & Chacewater Railway. It is mostly level and off road, and occasionally crosses the public highway.

Where to park: Limited parking is available near Twelveheads, at Seleggan near Carnkie and at the Buller Hill section near Lanner Hill. Links in with: The Great Flat Lode Trail, the Tresavean Trail and the Coast to Coast Trail.

Points of interest: The Redruth & Chacewater Railway Trail branches off from the Coast to Coast Trail at Twelveheads and follows a route of contrasting scenery (woodland and moorland) with spectacular views across Cornwall. Following as closely as possible the original railway route the trail bypasses the villages of Carharrack and Lanner. Gwennap Pit is close by and Carn Marth can be accessed from the trail. The trail then continues to the west of Lanner before connecting in to the Great Flat Lode Trail and Tresavean Trail at Buller Hill.

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Tolgus Trail

Distance 0.8 miles (1.2km)

The Tolgus Trail will connect the Treasure Park with the Coast to Coast Trail to the west of Cambrose. Immediately North of the Treasure Park the trail skirts the former Tolgus streams site an English Nature Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Here you can see how tin ore was won from the river running through the valley.

This trail follows the floor of the Portreath Valley where tin lost from the dressing floors of the mines upstream was trapped and retreated. Prior to this tin was recovered from alluvial gravels below the valley floor. This activity was recorded in the valley from as early as 1602. An estate plan of the Manor of Tolgus from 1818 shows many water-powered stream works along this valley floor.

Nature of trail: The trail is level and off road, with one road crossing. It is easy to access from the Coast to Coast Trail.

Points of interest: The Tolgus Trail will connect the Treasure Park with the Coast to Coast Trail to the west of Cambrose. Immediately North of the Treasure Park the trail skirts the former Tolgus streams site an English Nature Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Here you can see how tin ore was won from the river running through the valley.

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Tresavean Trail

Distance 1.1 miles (1.8km)

The Tresavean Trail follows the Tresavean branch of the Hayle Railway from the top of Buller Hill, and skirts the village of Lanner. The trail passes through an area of abundant wildlife and provides expansive views across the valley to nearby Carn Marth, and to the distant clay tips at St Austell. A recreated section of railway can be viewed close to the remains of Tresavean Mine.

Opened as part of the Hayle Railway, the branch was built to serve the leading Tresavean Copper Mine and originally hauled copper ore and Welsh coal along its entirely horse-drawn section from the top of Buller Hill. A series of granite setts for its 4’ 8½” gauge rails can still be seen in places along the former track bed. The line closed in 1936.

Nature of trail: Generally level and off-road.

Where to park: Lanner village or Buller Hill car park.

Links in with: Easy circular detours on footpaths in to the village centre and back again or join the Redruth & Chasewater Railway Trail and link in to the extended network of trails.

Points of interest: The Tresavean Trail follows the Tresavean branch of the Hayle Railway from the top of Buller Hill, and skirts the village of Lanner. The trail passes through an area of abundant wildlife and provides expansive views across the valley to nearby Carn Marth, and to the distant clay tips at St Austell. A recreated section of railway can be viewed close to the remains of Tresavean Mine.

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