Mineral Tramways Trails

Mineral Tramways Trails

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Mineral Tramway - Devoran
Mineral Tramway - Devoran

The Mineral Tramways Trail are a unique network of 37.5 miles of traffic free trails exploring the historic mining region in the heart of Cornwall. Centred on the Camborne and Redruth area there are a number of routes connecting the remains of the industrial infrastructure of the 19th century via the beautiful Cornish countryside. Open for walking, cycling and horse riding the trails take in both coasts, the remains of numerous engine houses and some fantastic views on the way. In addition the trails are fairly level and provide access to the countryside to wheelchair users and buggies.

The Coast to Coast Trail

Unsurprisingly, this is the longest of the trails at 11 miles (17.5 km). It stretches from the North Coast harbour town of Portreath through Cornwall's mining heartland to the South Coast port of Devoran. Whilst today this route is used primarily for leisure, it actually follows two of the mining era's main transport routes; the Portreath tram road and Redruth & Chacewater Railway. These routes were vital in moving the produce of what were the richest copper mines in the world to the ships that would carry it far and wide.

The Coast to Coast Trail passes through a range of scenery from coastal to woodland and heath and can easily be covered in a day. Besides the old harbour and port of Portreath and Devoran there are many highlights on or near the trail such as Gwennap Pit. You can easily hop onto another trail too as the Coast to Coast interconnects with the Wheal Busy Loob and Tolgus Trail. There are several refreshment stops en route and it is possible to hire bikes at Mawla and Bissoe, which are close to the north and south ends respectively.

Parking is available at several points along the trail and is free at the Bissoe bicycle hire stop and at Cambrose.

The Great Flat Lode trail

This trail is named after the rich deposits of tin that were discovered here in the 1860s. Just as the copper mines were in decline this 2 mile long 'lode' of tin was discovered. Not only was it big but it was relatively close to the surface and in the 60 years it was worked a number of the regions most successful mines were built here.

The circular trail is 7.5 miles (12 km) long and takes in many of the fine old mine workings. It contains sections based on the Basset Mine Tramway passing mines such as South Wheal Frances, Dolcoath and King Edward. The route loops around the hill of Carn Brea which is worth the climb for the fantastic views over coast and countryside below.

The route is largely off road and there are several places to get refreshments en route. There are car parks at South Wheal Frances and Dolcoath mines, and at the King Edward Mine Museum.

The Tehidy Trail

Cycling Tehidy Woods
Cycling in Tehidy Woods

This short (2.5 miles / 4km) trail is popular with families as it is set within the confines of Tehidy Country Park. The park was originally home to Sir Francis Basset, Lord de Dunstanville, whose family were the mining overlords of the industrial age. It is his memorial that sits atop Carn Brea, visible from half of Cornwall.

The route is generally flat, with a couple of small climbs. It is close to Portreath where you can pick up one of the other trails.

The Portreath Branchline Trail

This 5.5 mile (8km) trail connects the harbour at Portreath to the village of Brea, just south of Camborne. It intends to follow the Portreath Branchline which carried cargo to and from the port to the mines to Illogan. It passes under the Portreath Incline, which was a steep section of track on which wagons were pulled by a stationary steam engine up the steep slope. From here it continues to Tuckingmill where it follows the Red River Valley.

This trail has more sections on the public highway and crossing than the others so is potentially less suitable for horses. There is parking at Portreath and also at Tehidy East Lodge where you can also join the Tehidy Trail.

Mineral Tramway - Portreath
Mineral Tramway - Portreath

The Redruth & Chacewater Railway Trail

This 7.7 mile (12.4 km)trail is based on the route of The Redruth & Chasewater Railway which transported copper from the mines of Gwennap to near the port of Devoran for shipping. The trail starts near the Great Flat Lode trail and joins the Coast to Coast trail at Twelveheads. This section covers fairly high ground are there a good views at Carn Marth. The landscape varies from exposed heat and moorland to woodland.

The Tresavean Trail

The trail here roughly follows the Tresavean branch of the Hayle Railway and runs for 1.1 miles (1.8km). This section was hose-drawn with the railway transporting copper from the Tresavean mine in one direction and Welsh coal to run the engines in the other.

Although it covers fairly high ground the trail is generally level and all of it is off road. The trail joins with the Redruth & Chacewater Railway Trail and parking is available in the village of Lanner or at Buller Hill

Further information on all the Mineral Tramways Trails is available in the PDF leaflet produced by the council.