The tin and copper mines of Pendeen on the north coast of the Land's End Peninsula are redundant; the culmination of the long decline of Cornish coastal mining since its Victorian heyday. The deep mining of Cornwall lost out to cheap ore from surface strip mines in Asia and to the vagaries of the international market. At Pendeen the area's last working mine of Geevor closed in 1990 after years of uncertainty and false promise, and despite vigorous efforts by the local community to save it. Today, the modern buildings of Geevor have been transformed into a fascinating mining museum, but it is the ruined granite chimney stacks and engine houses of the 19th-century industry that have given this mining coast its dramatic visual heritage.
History and character
To walk through this post-industrial rural landscape is to walk through a huge slice of Cornish history and character. Early in the walk you reach the Geevor Tin Mine and then the National Trust's Levant Mine and Beam Engine. From Levant the coast path runs on to Botallack, where the famous Crown's Mine Engine Houses stand on a spectacular shelf of rock above the Atlantic. The tunnels and galleries of the Crown's Mine ran out for almost 1 mile (1.6km) beneath the sea, and the mine was entered down an angled runway using wagons. You can visit the Crown's Mine Engine Houses by following a series of tracks down towards the sea from the route of the main walk. Flooding was a constant problem for these mines and some of the earliest steam engines were developed to pump water from the workings. On the cliff top above the Crown's Mine the National Trust has restored the 19th-century facade of the Botallack Count House. This was the assaying and administrative centre for all the surrounding mines.
From the Count House the way leads to the old mining villages of Botallack and Carnyorth, before climbing steadily inland to the exhilarating moorland hills of Carnyorth Common. This is the famously haunted landscape of Kenidjack Carn which local superstition identified as the playground of giants and devils. From the high ground the linear pattern of Pendeen's mining coast is spread out before you with the glittering Atlantic beyond. The walk then leads back towards Pendeen and past the Church of St John, built by the mining community in the 1850s using rock quarried from the hilltop of Carn Eanes.
Turn left out of the car park and follow the road to the entrance of the Geevor Tin Mine. Go down the drive to the reception building and keep to its left, between it and the shop and cafe building. Go through a gap and follow a road between buildings.
Opposite the last buildings, turn left to walk along a track, signposted 'Levant', by some large boulders. Follow the path towards three tall chimney stacks ahead. Ignoring a track that heads left by a very large rock, go left at a fork, then straight over a broad stoney track to reach Levant Mine and Beam Engine on your right.
Pass the bottom end of Levant car park and follow a rough track, keeping left early on where it divides into three, to go past Roscommon Cottage to reach the Botallack Count House. (The Queen's Arms pub is straight down the road directly opposite Manor Farm.) Keep on past Manor Farm and reach the public road at Botallack.
Turn left, then left again at the main road (watch for fast traffic), then turn left at the Cresswell Terrace sign to a stile. Follow field paths to Carnyorth. Cross the main road, then follow the lane opposite, past a row of cottages, to reach a solitary house.
Keep left of the house and then go over a stile and go diagonally across the field to the opposite hedge to reach a hidden stile. Follow a path through small fields towards a radio mast. Cross a final stile on to a rough track.
Go left, then immediately right at a junction. Keep on past the radio mast, then follow a path through gorse and heather to the rocky outcrop of Carn Kenidjack (not always visible when misty).
At a junction abreast of Carn Kenidjack, go left along a path past a small granite parish boundary stone, eventually reaching a gate, beyond which is a path through scrub and finally a road. Turn right and in about 140yds (128m), go left along an obvious broad track opposite a house.
Keep left at a junction and then straight ahead at the next junction. When abreast of two large rocks on the left, go right between two smaller stone pillars and through a wooden gate. Keep straight ahead across rough ground and then go alongside an overgrown wall. Go left over a big stone stile directly above the church and descend to the main road. Turn right to the car park.
Coastal footpath, field paths and moorland tracks
Spectacular coastal cliffs, old mining country and open moorland
Keep dogs on lead in field sections
AA Walker's Map 10 Land's End & The Lizard
Free car park in centre of Pendeen village, opposite Boscaswell Stores, on the B3306
Pendeen car park and Geevor Tin Mine
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.
In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.