Botallack Tin Mine

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The coastal path around Cornwall is well-known to walkers and can be steep in parts but this one piece is easily achievable by an occasional walker like myself. The Count house museum at Botallack tin mine near St Just is small – just two rooms – but it describes vividly the way the mines were worked from the 1720s onward until the mine closed in 1896, digging into the lodes that run across this wild landscape. The Count House itself was built in the 1860s to house the mine offices, and mine workers used to come there to collect their pay. You can walk amongst the ruins, following one of the guided walks described on the free pamphlets, but it's important to stick to the paths because there are still unprotected mine shafts in some places. The walk down to the winding houses lower down on the cliffs is easy, although towards the end it changes to deep stone steps and for me was a little too exposed – my knees turned to jelly and I chose not to go and look right over the edge! Even so, it was exhilarating to look down onto the sea crashing on the rocks below, and to feel the blustery wind in my hair. And remarkable to think of the engines housed here providing power to pump water from the mine shafts deep below the cliff and out under the sea. The route we chose winds along the cliff, following the main coastal path for much of the way. In May, the flowers clinging to the rocks and sheltering amongst the grasses were delightful; sea thrift, primroses, daisies and other cliff top varieties. At times the path is close to the cliff edge, and the views are outstanding. The final part of the route makes its way up the narrow Kenidjack valley; at the time a busy industrial area with many mines and crushing mills fed by the river that's cut it's way deep into the hillside. The circular walk we took is only 3-4 miles, but in the end we took 3 hours because of the detours we embarked on to look at the views as well as the time we spent looking at the old mine buildings.

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