Gwennap Mining District with Devoran, Perran & Kennall Vale
Lannwenep, Glynn Kenyel ha Teudhla Peran
Great cycle trails through the Copper Kingdom
For a period in the 19th century Gwennap was described as the “richest square mile in the Old World”. Once the richest of all Cornwall’s mining districts, its fine houses, well-preserved industrial remains and dramatic, alien-looking mining landscapes combine to tell a compelling and colourful story of Cornish mining’s heyday.
It is a large and varied Area of fertile countryside, historic mining villages, pretty woods, tranquil river creeks and some of the most impressive industrial landscapes to be found anywhere in the Site. Gwennap is full of contrasts.
The open-air Methodist preaching place, Gwennap Pit, along with the Area’s many roadside chapels, give us a fascinating insight into mining communities and their spiritual beliefs. John Wesley the Methodist leader preached here and termed the pit “the most magnificent spectacle this side of heaven”. Gwennap can hold 1,500 people around its 12 ‘rings’. The pit is still an active place of worship today with a chapel on site.
Tramways – including two of Cornwall’s earliest and most important – thread through this Area, linking its mines the well-preserved ports at Devoran and Portreath. Whether cycling, walking or on horseback, these trails are a fantastic way to explore the mining heritage of the Area and the beautiful countryside.
At Kennall Vale, the remains of the mills and waterways of the historic gunpowder works have been reclaimed by the woodland and now form part of an important nature reserve managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. This beautiful valley, which is carpeted in bluebells in spring, shows the industrial past now re-claimed by nature, the mill wheels are an impressive sight nestled by the river.
Tramways thread through this Area,
linking its mines with the well-preserved ports at Devoran and Portreath.
Cycling the stunning Mineral Tramways Coast to Coast Trail, which passes through some incredible mining landscapes. Level for most of the way (with the odd slight incline), enjoy the invigoration of cycling an almost 25 mile round trip in a day – from Devoran on the River Fal to the lovely harbour and beach at Portreath on the north coast, and back
Exploring the Kennall Vale Gunpowder Works – one of the largest and most complete gunpowder works to be found anywhere in Britain – set in gorgeous woods laced with streams, leats, waterfalls and ponds. In spring, a sea of bluebells and bright pink foxgloves carpets the woodland floor. For more information on Kennal Vale, visit the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website
Standing in the famous Gwennap Pit, where John Wesley preached to the Cornish Mining communities, imagining thousands of people gathered around to listen to you
Taking 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
Looking around the well-preserved port, quays and tramway trackbeds at Devoran, once a key mining port and now a beautiful and tranquil creekside haven
View the impressive and recently conserved engine house at Wheal Busy near Chacewater, the mine name of which first appears in 1666!
This rural mining district produced a major proportion of the world’s supply of copper during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century.
Mining villages; St Day, Carharrack and Chacewater
Important Methodist sites; Gwennap pit, an outdoor preaching pit used by John Wesley
The houses and estates of industrial entrepreneurs; , the Carclew estate, Scorrier House, Tregullow and Burncoose
Major ancillary industrial sites; Kennall Valley (gunpowder works and a major foundry)
Important early railway networks
The remains of an early nineteenth century mining port; the port of Devoran and a stretch of Restronguet Creek where subestuarine mining in tin gravels was carried out
Large areas of mineworkers’ smallholdings in the north and east and country houses and estates in the south and west
Wheal Busy, an impressive, conserved mine, surrounded by mineral trails
The Audio Trail guides below explore the Poldice Valley and Kennall Vale, and introduce many of their notable features. These guides are only available to our members though, so why not sign up today?
Information sheets are also available to accompany the Audio Trail guides and please see the links to these below.