All around Cornwall echoes of our mining past are visible on the landscape. Whether you’re in a little village or taking a stroll along the clifftops, you’ll never be far from a tall, brick engine house. One of the most beautiful walks around Cornwall’s historic landscape is The Great Flat Lode Trail. Found between Camborne and Pool, the circular route passes some of the best preserved mining buildings in Cornwall.
In the late 1860s as copper mining was in decline, a large vein of tin ore was discovered near Carn Brea. The mines had a renewed purpose and mining started up again, this time mining for tin. The Great Flat Lode gets its name because the vein of tin, or lode, ran at a much gentler gradient than copper. The tin mines around here went on to become some of the most successful tin mines in Cornwall, producing over 90,000 tons of concentrated tin before closing in 1920.
Engine houses, tin dressing floors and other mining structures can all be found along the 7.5 mile walk. As the area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the landscape has remained largely undeveloped. The walk itself winds over a mix of farmland and heath, and leads up little country lanes lined with wildflowers. The trail follows part of the old Basset Mine Tramway, which once carried tin ore from the mines to Wheal Basset Stamps for processing. Along the way you’ll see the Wheal Basset Mine, South Wheal Frances and Dolcoath Mine. The route also passes through the village of Carnkie where Cornwall’s last tin smelter can be found.
Stray from the path a little and make your way to the top of Carn Brea for impressive views over West Cornwall and the Atlantic coast. You’ll also be able to spot South Crofty, Cornwall’s last tin mine which closed in 1998. Carn Brea isn’t just rich in mining history, remains of Neolithic and Iron Age activity have been found here too.
Make your way back down the hill and finish your day by taking a trip to Heartlands. Refresh yourself with a visit to the café, and learn all about the rich mining heritage you’ve just explored.