Kit Hill Country Park

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Introduction

Located in the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). With its 400 acres (152 hectares) for public enjoyment, Kit Hill Country Park is an ideal place for a wide range of activities including bird watching, kite flying and picnics.

Kit Hill has always been an important site and has been shaped by over 5,000 years of human activity. From its use by early people for agriculture and religious purposes to the more recent exploitation of its stones and minerals. The Hill is also home to a wide range of flora and fauna, much of which depends of its heathland habitats.

Located between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, this wild, rugged granite hilltop is famous for its fine views and fascinating history as well as its flora and fauna. With 400 acres (152 hectares), Kit Hill is the most dominant landscape feature in East Cornwall.

Features

  • The Quarry
  • The North Engine Shaft (over 200 metres deep)
  • South Kit Hill Mine (Opened in 1856, it reached a maximum depth of over 100m.)
  • Summit Stack built in 1858 for the Kit Hill Great Consols/ Kit Hill United mining complex and is a famous landmark. The chimney served a steam engine that pumped water and lifted ore from the deep mine workings.
  • Walking Trail - there is an easy to follow way-marked trail . Allow 2 hours to complete.The path is uneven and can be wet in places. Please close all the gates.
  • Horse Trail - there is a circular horse trail, way–marked by wooden posts with blue arrows. Please do not ride on the footpaths or the summit.

Download the Kit Hill leaflet

Ownership

Kit Hill was given to Cornwall Council on behalf of the people of Cornwall in 1985 to celebrate the birth of Prince William. The site is managed by Cormac Solutions Ltd.

Look out for

The Hill supports a variety of insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. Cuckoo, Stonechats, skylarks and tree pipits nest in the heathland, while birds of prey such as buzzard and kestrel hunt overhead. Furry moth caterpillars are common on the heather and during the summer months the sunny slopes are popular with basking adders. Nature has even reclaimed mine workings with bats roosting deep underground.

Further information

Public transport

Please check the Traveline SW website for the latest information on buses and trains serving this area.

Car

Main vehicular access is from the east, off the link road between Monkscross on the B3257 and the top of Silver Valley on the A390. You can also park at the foot of the incline on the north side, just off the B3257. Please have a look at the online mapping system for the location of Kit Hill. The grid reference of the Summit Car Park is SX 37476 71380.

As the highest and most distinctive hill in the vicinity, Kit Hill may have had a religious significance in prehistoric times. At least 18 burial mounds occur on its slopes, including one beneath the summit chimney. Traces of early field systems can be seen on aerial photographs. Prehistoric people left their mark with a Neolithic long barrow (approx. 3000 BC) on the lower eastern slope and Bronze Age round barrows (2000-1500BC), forming part of a line of barrows along the Hingston Down.

In the 9th Century, the battle of Hingston Down was fought on the lower slopes. Combined forces of the Cornish and the Danes fell against the invading Saxons. Bringing an end to Cornish independence. In the 18th Century, in commemoration of this ancient battle, Sir John Call of Whitford, near Stoke Climsland built a folly on the summit. This was a five sided enclosure intended to imitate a Saxon or Danish fort. The remains of the folly can be seen as the boundaries to the grassed area around the summit.

Kit Hill is a small outcrop of the great South Western granite mass rising up between larger blocks. Gases and solutions containing metallic elements found their way into cracks in the granite and slate. These solidified and crystallised into various ores, notably tin, copper, wolfram (especially important in WW1) and arsenic. These resources were exploited by miners from at least the medieval period to the 20th century.

It is Kit Hill's industrial past that has left the greatest mark. The ornate summit chimney stack of South Kit Hill Mine was built in 1858. It is one of the areas most famous landmarks, with surface mining and quarrying remains among some of the finest in England. 'Veins' or 'loads' rich in ores of tin, copper tungsten and arsenic were exploited for many years. These helped shape Kit Hill, creating a fascinating legacy for the visitor to discover. The search for minerals dates from at least Medieval times. When 'shode' (stones containing tin ore) was either dug dry from small pits or separated through a flow of water in stream works. From the 15th and 16th Centuries the tin 'lodes' were dug into from the surface by long narrow open works and closely spaced pits. By the 18th Century men were going underground in the shaft and adit mines, which are scattered all over the hill. Mining continued up until the First World War. Wolfram (used in making steel) was extracted by cutting 'levels' into the eastern side of the Hill and ceased in 1955.

In more recent times, Kit Hill was an important strategic point above the natural boundary of the Tamar river. The Hill is still used today. Since 1929 the Old Cornwall Society has lit an annual Midsummer's Eve Bonfire at the summit.

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