Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Great Flat Lode Trail

We had a great 7-mile walk this afternoon, along what is arguably Cornwalls' most important mining archaelogical trail.

The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body dipping at an angle of between 10 and 45 degrees, situated in the Camborne-Redruth area of Cornwall, about 10 miles from Falmouth.

Normally lodes are found perpendicular to the ground surface or at best at angles of about 60 degrees. The Great Flat Lode got its name as in relative terms it lay a lot flatter in the ground, so that mines could extract the tin and copper ores from the ground at moderate depths.

The mines of the Great Flat Lode helped to provide employment at a time when the rest of the Cornish Mining industry was in decline. As the copper ores became exhausted in about 1870, the mine owners explored deeper finding fine high quality tin concentrations underlying the copper. This gave the mines of the Great Flat Lode a new lease of life. After some of the companies amalgamated in the late 1890's the mines continued producing until about 1918.

The Great Flat Lode Trail encompasses all the major mines of the Camborne-Redruth area running in a 7.5 mile multi-use circular trail around the granite hill of Carn Brea. Perhaps most evocatively, the trail passes by the site of Cornwall's greatest mine, Dolcoath, once, at 3000ft,  the world's deepest tin mine, and the biggest producer of copper. As with most of the mines, in the late 19th century it became a tin mine, but modern development has left little trace of this mighty operation.

The trail passes through the famous Bassett Mines area (see posting of 11th June 2009), familiar to many past MEI Conferences delegates (the photo on the left was taken at Reagents' 04).

Also on the trail is the excellent King Edward Mine Museum (posting of 28th May).

Just off the trail, on the main Camborne-Redruth road at Pool, are the East Pool and Agar engine houses, which have been restored and open to the public (YouTube).

More Cornish Walks
More on Cornish Mining
More on Cornwall


  1. Thanks for posting these pictures - takes me back to the many hikes we used to go on around the Tuckingmill area whislt at CSM. there was a great little pub out on its own on the South side of Carn Brea we used to stop at but I can't seem to remember the name...

    Dave M

  2. Wheal Inn? The Countryman? By the way, who are you, M?

  3. The Countryman - that's the one!

    Dave Middleditch, ACSM 2004.


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