St Agnes AONB section
It is dominated by St Agnes Beacon, part of the chain that carried the news of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588. The barrow at its summit and the remnants of the Bolster Bank earthwork (named after the legendary giant) are evidence of early settlement. Geologically the Beacon is a metamorphic batholith with rich mineral veins below. The St. Agnes area produced the highest quality tin in Cornwall, and copper, lead and iron were also mined.
Many ruined engine houses can be seen along the cliffs, icluding the iconic Wheal Coates with its three engine houses, each one a little closer to the cliff edge. here in the 1800's men mined tunnels out under the sea, becoming the inspiration for the Poldark novels. At Blue Hills, in Trevellas Coombe, tin is still streamed as it has been in the valley for centuries.
The Beacon itself is covered by grass and heath with few trees. The surrounding land shows field enclosures of former miner's smallholdings. The villages that once housed mining families are mostly of traditional granite with a smattering of modern white bungalows.
On the coast, Trevaunance Cove below St Agnes village, has good swimming and surfing and excellent fishing around high tide. Just up the road is the 17th Century Driftwood Spars Inn. Further west is the beautiful cove at Chapelporth with its expanse of sand and strange sea caves; the beach can be treacherous as the tide comes in very rapidly.
There is a voluntary Marine Conservation Area between Trevaunance Cove and Trevellas, safeguarding life underwater and on the seashore. Sea birds are prolific and there are often sightings of seals, dolphins and basking sharks.
Cligga Head, to the east of St Agnes is of great interest to geologists.