Remnants of Cornwall’s mining past are plentiful. From old ruins to closed off shafts and disused quarries, there are so many mining walks to explore. I’ve always wanted to see an old mine up close, so decided to walk around Wheal Coates, near St. Agnes, with Woody. Strong gale force winds battered us as we navigated the coast path to Chapel Porth, which made for an amusing and memorable walk indeed!
Cornwall is famous for its mining heritage. It underpins so much of the county’s culture too. Did you know pasties were a staple for miners’ lunches? Stuffed with a wholesome meal with a thick crust to hold. The crust provided a safe way for miners to eat their pasties on the job while avoiding contamination and the risk of arsenic poisoning from the tin ores.
Wheal Coates Copper and Tin Mine opened in 1815 and operated for just under 100 years. In its heyday it employed around 140 local miners and produced over 700 tonnes of tin and over 300 tonnes of copper in its lifetime. Towanroath Engine House was built in 1872 and used to pump water from the 600 foot shaft. It’s one of Cornwall’s most photographed landmarks, tucked away on the cliff edge. The whole site is owned by the National Trust and parking is free for members.
I kept Woody on his EzyDog Road Runner lead. We love using this lead on coast path walks, as it’s hands free. I also use his Ruffwear Webmaster Harness (adapted for his Palisades Pack) because it offers a lot of coverage across his back. The handle comes in handy too when navigating stiles. I’ve had to lift him over plenty in the past but fortunately there aren’t any on this route. He’s quite happy to be lifted by up and over obstacles this way, which is always a bonus!
It’s a short walk to Chapel Porth beach, which is dog friendly from 1st October to Easter Saturday each year. Sea foam flooded the beach when we arrived. It’s a natural phenomenon, which occurs when the wind and waves whip up the impurities in the water, much like detergent in a washing machine. White sea foam is harmless and indicates a productive marine ecosystem, it’s also incredibly fun!
Woody and I enjoyed playing in the sea foam so much. I’ve never seen so much sea foam at once, it completely covered the beach and had even crept into the nearby car park! Had I known about the sea foam, I probably would have worn wellies. My Trailbacks weren’t the best choice because they’re made of leather. Woody turned a little green after our sea foam shenanigans, however it soon washed off in the sea!
The path is very narrow and hard to walk in places. It’s well maintained around Wheal Coates, however loose rocks and steep hills mean the majority of the route is not wheelchair or pushchair friendly. There are car parks at both Wheal Coates and Chapel Porth though, if you’d prefer to visit them individually and need better accessibility.
The route continues to Porthtowan, however we had to turn back half way. Strong winds blew us all over the place, making it difficult to walk. In places we were practically crawling! We didn’t want to risk coming to harm this time but we’ll definitely return to complete the walk soon. I’m also keen to try the longer walk, starting at St. Agnes Beacon.
Where are your favourite mining walks in Cornwall?
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