Gwennap, Kennall Vale and Perran Foundry
Great cycle trails through the Copper Kingdom
For a period in the 19th century Gwennap was described as the “richest square mile anywhere on Earth”.
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. 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. At Kennall Vale, the remains of the mills and waterways of the old gunpowder works have been reclaimed by the woodland and now form part of an important nature reserve managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
• 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!