PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:46 30 August 2017




Get a taste of Cornwall through the ages and as seen on screen with Robert Hesketh as he heads from Bottallack to Cape Cornwall

Get a taste of Cornwall through the ages and as seen on screen with Robert Hesketh as he heads from Bottallack to Cape Cornwall

This walk combines stunning cliff scenery with poignant views of tin mines which were operating as recently as 1914. Amongst the chimneys, headgear and spoil heaps is a dramatic view of the iconic Crowns engine houses, a film location in Poldark. Perched half way down the cliff, they served Boscawen mineshaft. This descended diagonally 32.5 degrees beneath the restless sea and ½ mile from shore to a depth of 250 fathoms (1500ft).

The lower pumping house on Crowns Cliff was built in 1835. It weighs 1200 tons and has no foundations – it is bolted and mortared into place on the rocks. Above this is the winder for the Boscawen shaft, constructed about 1860.

We follow the coast path to Cape Cornwall, a superb viewpoint and an excellent place to watch for dolphins and basking sharks. The Coastwatch station is on the seaward side of the Cape. Visitors are welcome (operational duties permitting).

Also en route is Ballowall Barrow, a large and dramatic prehistoric funerary monument, consisting of two concentric drystone walls enclosing stone lined pits and chambers. Like many other prehistoric burial mounds, Ballowall Barrow occupies a prominent site. Easily mistaken at first glance for another mineshaft, it was hidden under mining debris until discovered and excavated by William Copeland Borlase in 1878.

Borlase discovered a complex of barrows and cists from different periods in both the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, the only one of its kind in Cornwall. Among his finds were funeral urn fragments and burnt bone. He also uncovered the entrance, which faces the setting sun, adding strongly to the symbolism of the womb shaped tomb.

Boots on? Let’s go!

1 Start: Turn right out of the car park. Walk past the metal headgear. Turn left onto the coast path, which passes several ruined buildings, including chimneys and calciners. Look down to Crowns engine houses. Continue south on the coast path, where Wheal Owles mine was also used in BBC’s Poldark. It was the scene of a mining disaster in 1893.

Kenidjack Castle is an Iron Age promontory fort. Parts of the defensive banks built to protect it from landward attack remain, though disturbed by later mining.

2 The coast path continues over a stile and down to a track. Turn left and after 150m right down a path. Cross the Kenidjack Valley by a footbridge. Turn right at a T junction, signed Cape Cornwall’. Reaching a track, turn right. Follow the coast path via medieval St Helen’s oratory, which replaced a 6th century church. Continue up to the chimney on Cape Cornwall. Built in 1864, it was retained as a navigational mark after the mine was closed. A mile offshore are the Brisons, prominent rocks which mark the starting line for the annual swimming race to Priest Cove.

3 Retrace your steps for 250m, keeping to the track. Rejoin the coast path opposite the white cottage. Follow it down steps and uphill as signed to a tarred lane. Leave the coast path and follow the lane for 100m to Ballowall Barrow.

4 Continue along the lane for 600m past the mine workings and chimney. Turn left over a stile. Follow the waymarks to Ballowall Farm and the signed path through the hamlet. Continue along the track to lane. Cross the lane and a stile. Follow the footpath through fields and over stiles to the lane by Boscean Farm.

5 Turn left. Take the right fork into the valley. Reaching a lane, turn right and after only 10m left. Follow the track uphill. Continue between the farm and engine house. Continue forward over stiles and a footpath.

6 At the next engine house turn right, then immediately left along a track. When the track bears right, go straight ahead over a stile and on between cottages. Join another track. Reaching a lane, you may divert right to visit the Queen’s Arms, which has a good collection of local period photographs showing the area whilst the mining industry flourished, as well as a chart describing local shipwrecks. Otherwise, turn sharp left past Botallack Manor. Follow the lane back to the start, where the Count House (Botallack mine office, free entry) has tableaux of local wildlife and mining history.


Start/parking: Botallack mine, near metal headgear, SW365333

Terrain: Coast path, footpaths and quiet lanes. Several short, steep slopes

Child/dog friendly: Suitable for dogs on leads and older children. Care needed around unfenced cliffs and mine workings

Maps: Ordnance Survey Explorer 102; Landranger 203; Harvey’s SWCP 3

Refreshments: Queens Arms, Botallack (01736 788318); refreshment van, Cape Cornwall (seasonal)

Public toilets: Cape Cornwall

Public transport: Regular daily buses from Penzance on circular route including Pendeen and St Just 0871 2002233

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