Tamar Valley Mining District with Tavistock
Nans Tamar & Tavistock
Nature and industry entwined
Set in a National Landscape (a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Tamar Valley encompasses a breathtaking landscape that is as diverse as it is historically important.
Stretching from the high granite ridge and exposed moors of Kit Hill in Cornwall to the lush, deep wooded valleys of the meandering Tamar River – and the farming lands of the Devon plateau beyond – the Area spans the border between Cornwall and Devon. In today’s tranquillity, it’s hard to imagine the noise from over 100 mines that operated at the height of its mining boom.
Tin, copper, silver-lead, and arsenic were all mined here. In places, engine houses and associated buildings are well preserved; elsewhere you’ll glimpse an occasional chimney or fragment of walling emerging through the trees.
Tavistock itself is unlike any other town within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. The dramatic remodelling of much of the medieval town by the 7th Duke of Bedford during the mid-19th century was achieved with profits from his mines, whilst a substantial proportion of the mining workforce was housed in model cottages built within the town, at the mines and across his estate.
There is also an exceptional mineral transport network here: you’ll find an unparalleled group of industrial mineral river quays (e.g. Morwellham), a mine railway, (which served Devon Great Consols), a mineral railway (East Cornwall Mineral Railway) and a mineral canal (Tavistock Canal). The Area also has numerous mine quays, mule tracks and mine roads, many of which have now been opened up as multi-use trails for visitors.
In today’s tranquillity it’s hard to imagine the noise from over 100 mines that operated at the height of its mining boom.
Walking or cycling the Tamar Trails around Devon Great Consols, one of the largest and most important copper and arsenic works in the Site that is now enveloped in an extensive conifer plantation
Exploring the shops, cafés, elegant houses and villas, public buildings and museum in the attractive, thriving market town of Tavistock —extensively re-modelled in the 19th century by the 7th Duke of Bedford, using the enormous profits made from his interests in Devon Great Consols copper mine
Visit the Tavistock Guildhall Heritage Centre - the eastern gateway to the Cornwall & west Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Riding the train on the Tamar Valley Line – the southern section of the former East Cornwall Minerals Railway. This runs through the Tamar Valley’s breathtaking scenery, over the stunning Tavy and Calstock viaducts, and through some of the key mining sites and communities
Gazing out across the magnificent panoramas from the top of Kit Hill. Look northwards across the sweeping landscape of north Cornwall and north Devon; southwards across rich farmland to the waters of Plymouth Haven shining in the distance; or westwards towards Caradon Hill and Bodmin Moor crowning the horizon
Discovering the magical house, gardens, woodlands, and riverside walks and quays of Cotehele, the historic seat of the Edgcumbe family
The mining district comprises both valley and upland setting for tin, copper, silver-lead and arsenic mining, ore processing and smelting
The river Tamar and its associated industrial river quays
The major town of Tavistock that was remodelled during the nineteenth century with profits derived principally from copper mining royalties.
The rounded granite summit of Kit Hill (333m OD) dominates the western part of the Area whilst high ground creates a distinctive landform running eastwards along the upland ridge of Hingston Down
At Gunnislake, on the western bank of the River Tamar, the granite ridge descends steeply to the river
Devon Great Consols
Wheal Friendship (Mary Tavy)
The Audio Trail guides below explore Tavistock and introduce some of the features that make this former industrial town so impressive. 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.