Carn Brea is in the centre of old mining country, more recently referred to as Poldark country. Even the postcards these days are Poldark themed. We drove to the village of Piece and the plan was to walk up Carn Brea, past the monument, the castle (now a restaurant), down the other side and back through Carnkie village to the pub. From the top you can see the north coast sea, an impressive sight.
According to wikipedia, Carn Brea was originally a neolithic settlement from around 3700 BC. The monument was erected in 1836 for Lord Basset, a local mine and land owner who saved Plymouth from the French and Spanish fleets among other things. Of course you’ve read all twelve Poldark books and you know him well. The castle was the Basset family’s hunting lodge before it became a restaurant, and then it was briefly famous about 10 years ago when the Weasley’s Ford Anglia was stolen and found in the car park.
Anyway, it was too misty and dreary to walk up so we simply walked around the bottom of it, no sea view today. It was a bit drizzly and we could barely see the next field or style in front of us at first. We reached Churchtown and were mistaken for tourists as we’d come all the way from Falmouth, a good 15 minute drive away on the south coast, a world away. After a visit to the local church for St Euny who is the patron saint for Lelant and Redruth, his well we had passed earlier, we headed towards Wheal Uny which is an old run-down tin mine.
Mining was big business in Cornwall. Starting in the bronze age around 2150 BC (good old wikipedia) and lasting up until South Crofty closed in 1998. Tin was commonly found as well as copper. Inevitably it became cheaper to mine elsewhere such as Wales and later on China. It comes up in the local news occasionally that South Crofty might reopen but that talk has been happening for a long time. Apparently lithium will be extracted this year but for now, the county depends on tourism and emmets (tourists or suposedly “ants” in Cornish).
It was a bit nerve racking to peer down the mine shaft, even if it was covered by a huge metal grate. I didn’t dare try to take a picture with my new phone. It is actually a bit of a moor and untouched land around Carn Brea and not too wise to wander off the public footpaths. Dogs are known to disappear down old mine shafts and even gardens and houses get swallowed when the shafts collapse.
We followed the Great Flat Lode path back towards the villages which partly used to be a railway line to carry the minerals away. It’s ranked #4 of 9 things to do in Camborne on TripAdvisor which was once a popular busy mining town, times have changed. Back at the Countryman pub in Piece we stopped for the obligatory pint and some chips, a good end to a 6.7 mile walk. It would have been shorter, but geocaching usually leads to detours.