Heritage in West Cornwall
Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of tin miners or hear stories about shipwrecks and smugglers, this is a place where history breathes – it’s in the architecture, landmarks, festivals and traditions, and it’s etched into the landscape.
Heritage days out in West Cornwall
In Penzance, you’ll find colourful 19th-century buildings, galleries, manor houses and gardens to explore. Marazion is home to the glorious St Michael’s Mount, while West Penwith is peppered with ancient sites, mining trails and engine houses, much of them being part of Cornwall's World Heritage sites.
Discover how you can immerse yourself in the heritage of West Cornwall with these historic days out.
Cornish ancestry tour; Absolutours
Experience Poldark country with a full day’s guided tour. Visit Marazion and St Michael’s Mount, explore Botallack or Portreath Heritage Port, and pause for a miner’s lunch (Cornish pasty) or cream tea. Absolutours will partner you with a Cornish Blue Badge Guide and the tour includes transport. Book this fascinating day out here.
Heritage West Tour; Experience Cornwall
Explore the heritage coast with Experience Cornwall and experience what life was like for Cornish miners 200 years ago. You’ll visit Gwithian beach (and keep an eye out for seals), head into St Ives for the art galleries, stop in Zennor to see a 6th Century Church and visit two historic mines. The tour includes pick up and drop off, plus a cream tea picnic. Find out more here.
Archeoastronomy and Bronze Age heritage walks; Archeoastronomy Cornwall
How did our ancestors try to make sense of the night sky? During this fascinating guided walk, you’ll explore the ancient sites of West Penwith to discover their connection with astronomical events. The Archeoastronomy and Heritage Walk takes you to barrows, ancient stone circles and more. Archeoastronomy expert Carolyn Kennett also shares her extensive knowledge of the area and how our ancestors connected with the sky on her Bronze Age tour, a three-mile guided walk to see a Bronze Age village, stone circles, barrows and more..
Ballowall Barrow; English Heritage
Overlooking the dramatic Atlantic Ocean near St Just, you’ll find the ruins of a Bronze age funerary monument. Ballowall Barrow is thought to have been a shrine deliberately built close to the cliff edge. Thanks to the work of English Heritage, you can visit this complex prehistoric tomb and learn about the objects discovered during its excavation.
Carn Euny Ancient Village; English Heritage
Have you ever wondered how people lived thousands of years ago? Carn Euny is an incredible ancient village that’s said to be one of the best-preserved sites in the region. Inside, you’ll find the remains of stone houses and a fogou – a walled underground passage that’s unique to this part of Cornwall. Find out more here.
Trengwainton Garden; National Trust
Experience Trengwainton Garden as it bursts into blossom. Mid-February and March are wonderful months to visit, as this is when the garden reopens after winter and the magnolias and award-winning rhododendrons are in full bloom. With 25 acres to explore, plus areas dedicated to quiet contemplation, it’s an inspiring place to say hello to spring. Find out more here.
Tin coast walk; National Trust
Experience Cornish mining history in the real world, where engine houses stand tall against a backdrop of the vast Atlantic Ocean. The Tin Coast walk follows seven miles of rugged coastline in West Penwith, which has been designated a World Heritage Site. On the walk, you can explore three National Trust sites: Botallack, Cape Cornwall and Levant Mine. Find out more here.
Town trail; Penzance
Give yourself permission to duck in and out of the shops by following the Penzance Town Trail. This self-guided tour takes approximately two hours and encourages you to explore some of the town’s most interesting buildings and landmarks, including the Union Hotel (where the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson was announced) and Jubilee Pool. It’s a great way to find your bearings. Get the map here.
The mining experience; Geevor Tin Mine
Get your hands dirty and delve into Cornwall’s tin and copper mining history. Geevor Tin Mine is the largest preserved mining site in the country. Nestled in the St Just mining district, Geevor was the last mine in the area to close its doors. It reopened to enable locals and tourists to experience what life was like for Cornish miners – you can even travel down into the tunnels of Wheal Mexico Mine. Plan your visit here.
Chysauster Ancient Village; English Heritage
English Heritage members will be pleased to know that they can put their membership to good use. Chysauster Ancient Village is a Romano-British settlement between Penzance and Zennor. Exploring the stone walls here gives you a real sense of how people must have lived thousands of years ago. Plan your visit here.
Mên-an-Tol; Stone formation above Morvah
Mên-an-Tol is a collection of granite stones believed to date back to the Bronze Age. Its name translates to ‘holed stone’, which makes sense when you see the centre stone’s striking shape. Some say the site is the remains of a stone circle, others claim it’s part of an ancient burial chamber. You can find out more from Historic Cornwall here. If you follow the Penwith Landscape Partnership’s circular walk, you’ll also see Greenburrow Engine House, Bosiliack Entrance Grave and the Nine Maidens Stone Circle.
Botallack Mine; Pendeen
Walk along the coast path in the direction of Pendeen and you’ll come across Botallack Mine and Count House. The Crowns Engine Houses have been photographed many times for their dramatic position, perched on the cliff edge. A winding path leads to the abandoned buildings, set against the beautiful Cornish coastline. Take a moment to wander around and take in the spectacular scenery or enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake at the Count House Café.
Levant Mine and Beam Engine; Tin Coast
You’ll find Levant Mine and Beam Engine on the cliffs of the Tin Coast, surrounded by spectacular sea views. The site is most famous for its original beam engine, which is the only beam engine in the world still operating on steam on its original site. Details of tours and further information about the site can be found on the National Trust website
Experience a Cornish tradition; Montol Festival
Taking place on December 21st every year, Montol is a reinterpretation and celebration of Cornish midwinter and Christmas traditions. This six-day festival involves lantern and mask-making workshops, street bands, storytelling and dancing through the streets. Make sure you’re in Penzance for the sundown procession at 4pm, which starts at the top of Causewayhead, and follow the celebrations until 10pm.
Mousehole heritage walks; Guided walking tour
Spend the morning or afternoon exploring the charming village of Mousehole and learning about its history. Mousehole local Elaine will show you around, guiding you through the key landmarks in the village and sharing stories and folklore. If you’re keen to learn more about this quaint Cornish village, book your tour here.
Walk the causeway to St Michael’s Mount
On a crisp and bright day, St Michael’s Mount is a sight to behold. As the tide lowers, the causeway is revealed – and this is your entry point to the famous landmark. The castle itself is a National Trust site, which is open to visitors daily during the summer, but only on selected dates from the 1st November-31st March, so it’s definitely worth planning your day here first.
Morrab Library tour; Penzance
The Morrab Library can be found in the subtropical Morrab Gardens in Penzance. It was founded in 1818 and is one of only 50 independent libraries in the UK. If you’re around on a Friday, there is a free library tour at 2pm, which explores the nooks and crannies of this iconic house. Contact the library in advance to secure your spot.
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