I’m a huge fan of Cornish culture and heritage and so are Cornwall based holiday company, Aspects Holidays. We’ve joined forces to bring you a guide of Cornwall’s tin mining heritage sites and where to stay nearby, ensuring you have the best, authentic Cornish getaway.
Cornwall is renowned for its tin and copper mining, with business booming during the 18th Century. Even though Cornwall’s last working mine, South Crofty, closed in 1998, you’ll find derelict tin mines and engine houses dotted along Cornwall’s landscape.
Cornwall’s tin mining sites are worth visiting and seeing for yourself. From the sheer feat of engineering apparent during the 1700s to the tragedies that occurred, the tin mines and engine houses offer a connection with the old Cornwall. Admittedly, it’s a Cornwall that no longer exists but one that continues to have much resonance and importance for Cornish people.
You’ll find many of Cornwall’s tin mines and engine houses along the tin coast, a 7 mile stretch of coast from Pendeen Lighthouse to Cape Cornwall. They aren’t exclusive to this area though. Others can be found along the north Cornish coast and inland around Redruth and Camborne.
Cornwall’s mining heritage sites continue to be places of interest for locals and visitors. For this post, I’ve collaborated with Aspects Holidays, a local and friendly business offering self catering holiday cottages in Cornwall. Their main aim is to ensure you have a perfect holiday in Cornwall, with their property portfolio offering something for everyone. With that in mind, I’ll be recommending holidays homes from Aspects Holidays that are located near Cornwall’s famous tin mines and engine houses.
Botallack Tin Mine and Crown Engine Houses
I’ve a real soft spot for Botallack Tin Mine. It’s in an amazing position simply begging to be photographed. With the crashing waves on the wild Penwith Heritage coast, it’s a wonder the two crown engine houses are still standing!
You can find Botallack tin mine on the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, near St Just. The engine houses at Botallack are inaccessible, but there is a path allowing you to have a closer look. On this National Trust site, you’ll find other derelict out buildings. The view is pretty spectacular too. You can find a more in-depth blog post on Botallack tin mine here.
Where to stay near Botallack Tin Mine and Engine Houses – Cove Cottage, St Just
Offering desirable sea views, Cove Cottage, is a traditional fisherman’s dwelling in a fantastic location. If you want a peaceful holiday in Cornwall, it’s the perfect option. With guaranteed privacy, this holiday home is in an ideal spot if you’re keen on exploring the south west coast path, with the village of St Just being a short drive away. Don’t forget your bathers as Priests Cove is nearby. It’s a small secluded cove used by locals for a quiet sea swim. Great if you prefer to be somewhere less crowded during peak season.
Levant Tin Mine
A short and scenic walk from Botallack is Levant Tin Mine. It’s a lovely walk in it’s own right and it’s worth checking out Levant if you’re in the area. In fact, Levant Tin Mine is open to the public on certain days. Tours are available but you need to book in advance.
Levant Tin Mine is a 19th century engine house and steam run beam engine. There’s a tragic story attached to this one that occurred in 1919. 31 men died when some machinery failed. Levant Tin Mine continued to be in operation but never really recovered. It was restored in the 1980s and is now run and maintained by the National Trust.
Where to stay near Levant Tin Mine – Bluebell Dawn Farm, Morvah
Bluebell Dawn Farm is a traditional converted barn, originally built in the 1600s. It’s beautifully and sympathetically decorated, with a comfortable sofa with inviting big squishy cushions and large beds you’ll want to sink into. Located in Cornish countryside near the Penwith coast, you’ll find a neolithic burial site, Chûn Quoit, nearby. Penzance, which has some excellent local retailers and the art deco Jubilee Pool, is about 15 minutes drive away.
Wheal Prosper, Rinsey
Wheal Prosper, located between Praa Sands and Porthleven, is an engine house you can get up close to. Positioned on the cliff and by the south west coast path at Rinsey, it’s a beautiful place to visit. There’s not much in the way of information on site about Wheal Prosper. It opened around 1860 and produced tin and copper. It only had a short working life though, closing 6 years later.
If you visit Wheal Prosper, I’d recommend making the most of the position. Head on a stunning coast path walk to Porthleven or head down to Porthcew Cove, which is just below the engine house, and let your feet sink in to the soft, untouched yellow sand.
Where to stay near Wheal Prosper – Rockhopper Cottage, Praa Sands
Rockhopper Cottage is cute, cosy and contemporary inside. This traditional Cornish cottage is situated in Praa Sands, in between Porthleven and Marazion. I’d recommend visiting both of these Cornish villages. If you time your visit right, make sure to experience the Portleven Food Festival. A trip to St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall’s castle in the sky, at Marazion, is also a must.
Sleeping up to 6 people, you can spend the day lazing are on the beach or mooching around one of our delightful Cornish villages, and return to a chilled BBQ on the patio. If you fancy something a little more energetic, there’s table tennis and table football available too!
Wheal Coates Engine House
Along with Botallack, I’d say Wheal Coates holds iconic status when it comes to Cornish mining heritage sites. Perched on the cliff top between Porthtowan and St Agnes, it’s a well known engine house that accrues plenty of interest from coast path walkers and explorers.
Dating back to 1802, Wheal Coates was in operation for over 80 years. There were attempts to revive it in the early 1900s but it wasn’t particularly successful.
Standing next to this engine house, you can definitely feel the power of the sea and the drama of the north Cornish coastline. Here, the Atlantic ocean maintains rich jewel tones all year round and there’s several decent walks to embark on. This is a 5k circular from Chapel Porth to Porthtowan (you’ll see a few more engine houses on this one!)
Where to stay near Wheal Coates – Pen Mor Cottage, St Agnes
With classic coastal decor, beamed ceilings and a woodburner, Pen Mor oozes comfort and style. Not far from Trevaunance Cove and the local shops, restaurants and pubs in St Agnes, it’s a good location for a family holiday in Cornwall. With Trevaunance Cove on your doorstep, you may want to join the locals for a surf (in peak months, the beach is patrolled by the RNLI Lifeguard), or head to the coast path for a reviving and strenuous walk.
Coast to Coast on the Bissoe Trail
The Bissoe Trail is a firm favourite with dog walkers, cyclists and runners. This 11 mile trail from Devoran port to Portreath is like a mini tour of old tin mines. The Bissoe Trail follows the route of the old Redruth and Chacewater Mineral Tramway which connected tin and copper mines and the 2 busy ports of Devoran and Portreath. With the decline in copper and tin, the need and use of the tramway went with it.
Unlike other engine houses mentioned here, you’re less likely to be able to reach old, derelict mining buildings here. You’ll find bits of buildings, like the remains of the Nangiles Mine, and experience a trail imbued with Cornish mining history. It’s a family friendly trail with several parking spots along the way.
Where to stay near the Bissoe Trail – Upper Beach House, Portreath
With the Bissoe Trail ending at Portreath, Upper Beach House is a seaside retreat that doesn’t disappoint. This luxury penthouse sleeps up to 7 people and just a stone’s throw away from Portreath beach. You don’t have far to go for your dose of vitamin sea, it has sun loungers so you can soak up the sea air and catch some Cornish rays in the comfort of your home from home. Portreath has much to offer as well, with independent shops and places to eat in the village. You can easily head inland too and discover many of Cornwall’s engine houses from this position.
The Great Flat Lode
This is definitely a trail I need to do! The Great Flat Lode is a 7.5 mile circular around Carn Brea; the hill that towers over Redruth and Camborne. The Great Flat Lode trail follows the line of the Bassett Mine Tramway which was used for transporting tin ore in its heyday. It’s suitable for all abilities and again, is good for walkers, runners and shorter family walks.
Along the Great Flat Lode you’ll find lots of abandoned mining outbuildings, structures, and engine houses. The Great Flat Lode is said to have some of the best preserved engine house remains in the south west. You’ll find impressive buildings, such as South Wheal Frances and Dolcoath Mine. If you head out on The Great Flat Lode, you can enjoy a visit to the King Edward Mine Museum. Stop for some food onsite too at The Croust Hut; I’ve eaten here and it’s excellent!
Where to stay near The Great Flat Lode – Carn Stables, Mid Cornwall
Moving inland, dog friendly Carn Stables ensures you have a relaxing and peaceful stay surrounded by glorious Cornish countryside. In fact, it’s the perfect position for those who want to get a feel for Cornwall’s mining heritage, with many places of interest within reach (like Gwennap Pit). As the name suggests, these renovated stables are stunning. With home comforts, like a woodburner and a bed that looks nothing short of sumptuous, you’re bound to unwind and feel at home. There’s a hot tub too, ideal for soaking your muscles after a day of walking and finding Cornwall’s hidden gems.
That’s my round up for Cornwall engine houses and tin mining sites for you to visit, with some top notch holiday homes from Aspects Holidays too! You can find more information about Aspects Holidays in Cornwall here.
This post is sponsored by Aspects Holidays. As always, views and opinions stated here are my own.