St Agnes AONB section
3 square kilometres. It is dominated by the famous Beacon - part of the chain that carried the news of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588. The barrows 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. 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 has good swimming and surfing and excellent fishing at Trevaunance Point around high tide. Just inland 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.