Thursday, 20 August 2015

St. Agnes to Chapel Porth and Wheal Coates

St. Agnes beach, Trevaunance Cove

This is a fairly easy 3.3 mile walk, with an elevation gain of 720 ft, starting from the beach at St. Agnes, and leading to one of Cornwall's most photographed engine houses.

After a short steep hike up the clifftop from St. Agnes' Trevaunance Cove, the next 2 and a half miles is relatively gentle, but uninspiring cliff walking.

Above Trevaunance Cove 

Looking back towards Perranporth

Between St. Agnes and Wheal Coates
The great attraction of this walk is the opportunity of exploring Wheal Coates, the ruins of which tumble down the cliff, with one of Cornwall's most photogenic engine houses, the Towanroath Shaft pumping engine house, adjacent to the coastal path.

Wheal Coates' Towanroath pumping engine house

Looking south-west to distant St. Ives from Wheal Coates
The mine opened in 1802 and was worked until its closure in 1889. It came into full production in 1815. The surviving buildings date from the 1870s when deep underground mining began at the site. There are three engine houses that formerly housed Cornish engines. Towanroath Pumping Engine House (1872) was used to pump water from the adjacent 600 ft Towanroath shaft. Another Engine House was added in 1880 to crush ore for processing. A calciner dating from 1910-1913 roasted the tin to remove impurities such as arsenic.

In 1881 138 people were employed at the site to mine a seam of tin just below sea level but this and a subsequent period of operation from 1911-1913 were not very successful because tin production was sporadic. From 1815-1914 the mine produced 335 tons of copper and 717 tons of tin.

Looking back to the engine houses of Wheal Coates
From Wheal Coates the steep descent offers great views of the beach at Chapel Porth, and for anyone wishing only to visit Wheal Coates a good option might be to park at the National Trust car park at Chapel Porth and walk the half mile to the mine site.

The descent to Chapel Porth

More Cornish Walks

More on Cornwall

More on Cornish Mining

1 comment:

  1. The other week I went out with Koru Kayaks from St Agnes and they took us to the other way- north of St Agnes towards Perranporth. It is certainly an impressive sight to see the mine workings from the water rather than looking from above on the coast path. Towards Cligga the cliffs look as if a rabbit warren had been cut in two!
    They took us in to an old copper mine of the Prism/Prison, which is effectively now a large blow hole. The copper and iron staining of the cliff face within was similar to a 1960's wallpaper. but it was certainly breath taking view!
    More costly, energetic and wet than walking the coast, but well worth it for the view of the mines from the sea and the odd seal that followed along for the ride too.

    David G


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