Explore the World Heritage Site

Wheal Prosper walkers by Ainsley Cocks

On July 13 2006 select mining landscapes across Cornwall and West Devon were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing Cornish mining heritage on a par with international treasures like Machu Pichu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. The largest World Heritage Site in the UK, with over 20,000 hectares spread across Cornwall and west Devon, it offers myriad experiences to explore our world-changing mining culture. 

The Site contains over 200 iconic Cornish engine houses (the largest concentration of such monuments anywhere in the world). But Cornish mining is about far more than mine sites – the mining industry impacted on all aspects of life. Many of our towns and villages were either transformed by a growing industrial population or newly built to house them.

They reveal their history in the rows of distinctive terraced cottages, shops, chapels and substantial public buildings. Today you’ll find plenty of great cafés, pubs, restaurants, art galleries and museums.

Begin your journey to the soul of Cornwall via the ten unique, diverse areas that form the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

St Just
Experience the solitude of Ding Dong, a remote Cornish engine house sitting high up on the treeless moors that is surrounded by the remains of mine workers’ cottages and fields. Walk around the beautiful Cape Cornwall – Britain’s only cape – where an ornate solitary mine stack stands sentinel on the coast. Take a tour of Geevor Tin Mine – one of the last Cornish mines to close, it is one of only a few mine sites with extensive collections of machinery open to the public in Cornwall. See Levant Mine, which is spectacularly sited on the cliff edge. Its beam engine has been restored by the Greasy Gang, and is driven by steam again.

Walk the King George V Memorial Walk from Phillack, taking in the pretty gardens around Copperhouse Pool, and looking out for Black Bridge.  Watch the sunset over the old harbour, with the towering dunes and St Ives in the background. Explore the area around Foundry Barn, and imagining it in its booming, busy heyday.

Tregonning & Trewavas
Visit Godolphin House, once home to some of Cornwall’s most successful mine owners, and explore its gardens that are thought to date from the late Middle Ages. 

Experience the panoramic views from Tregonning and Godolphin Hills, stretching as far as St Agnes and Hayle on a clear day. Explore the beautiful Rinsey headland and beach (at low tide), and nearby Porthleven (not in the Site), with its spectacular harbour that sweeps right into the centre of the village.

Venture down into Wheal Roots – the 18th century tin mine at Poldark – to learn about Cornish mining history and find out what conditions were actually like for Cornish mine workers. Explore Porkellis Moor – a Cornwall Wildlife Trust reserve, where nature has reclaimed the ancient mining landscape. Walk the footpaths around Carnmenellis (in the north of the Area) and see the surviving mine workers’ smallholdings.

Camborne & Redruth
Climb up to the Basset memorial on Carn Brea, which dominates the Area, and then see the spectacular views from its summit. Visit East Pool Mine, and see the interiors of two complete engine houses with engines in situ. Witness the unique collection of restored tin processing equipment at King Edward Mine, a former training centre for mining students dating from the turn of the 20th century—one of only a few remaining mine sites with extensive collections of machinery in Cornwall.

Stand in the famous Gwennap Pit, where John Wesley preached to the Cornish Mining communities. Take in the sheer scale of past industrial activity at Poldice and Wheal Maid, which reveal the enormous impact that mining has had in transforming the landscape of this part of Cornwall. Look around the well-preserved port, quays and tramway trackbeds at Devoran, once a key mining port and now a beautiful and tranquil creekside haven.

St Agnes
Walk around the stunning cliff-top engine house at Wheal Coates: pictured on hundreds of postcards, but must be seen for real. Walk the stark coastline around Cligga Head, world famous for its outstanding mineralogy and cliff workings. Visit St Agnes Museum to discover more about the area’s mining heritage.

Luxulyan Valley & Charlestown
Stand under the Treffry Viaduct, which, despite being huge, manages to hide itself amongst the woodland until it is literally upon you! Experience the delightful Prideaux Woods (to the south-west of Luxulyan Valley) – a quarter of which is ancient woodland. Visit Wheal Martyn; a fascinating insight into Cornwall’s important billion pound china clay mining industry. 

Watch the sunset from the top of Caradon Hill, looking west across the golden moors and Siblyback Lake. Visit the Prince of Wales Shaft at Phoenix United Mine, built for the last big pumping engine made in Cornwall (1907). Visit Liskeard Museum and Minions Heritage Centre to discover more about the Area’s heritage.

Ride the train on the Tamar Valley Line – the southern section of the former East Cornwall Minerals Railway. Gaze out across the magnificent panoramas from the top of Kit Hill. Discover the magical house, gardens, woodlands, and riverside walks and quays of Cotehele, the historic seat of the Edgcumbe family.