Botallack to Cape Cornwall Circular Walk

Cornwall Information & Accommodation Guide

Botallack to Cape Cornwall Circular Walk

A Poldark Walk -  Approx. 4 miles (6.4 km) 2 hours 5 minutes

This circular walk takes you through one of the most intensively mined areas in Cornwall - the St Just mining area. You will pass the remains of engine houses, many of them very well preserved, one of which has featured prominently in the latest adaptation of Poldark. As you near Cape Cornwall you will pass an Iron Age cliff castle and descend into the Kenidjack Valley, once home to 50 working waterwheels. 

If you are looking for refreshments before starting your walk, the Queens Arms pub in Botallack is open all day. 

There is a car park near the Botallack Mine Count House. (Free for members of the National Trust)

1. Walk down to the coast path through the remains of the Botallack Mine.

This mine covered a large area incorporating several older mines - Carnyorth (Nineveh), Grylls Bunny, Parknoweth, Wheal Cock, Wheal Hazard, Wheal Hen, Wheal Tolvan and cliff outcrops - into the Botallack Mine sett. 

2. On joining the coast path follow it to the left. 

The chimney belongs to the arsenic calciner, a labyrinth of tunnels for extracting and processing arsenic. The buildings have been decontaminated. 

3. Continue along the path, not forgetting to look back to see magnificent views of the Crowns engine houses

On your left is West Wheal Owles (Cargodna shaft) used as Ross Poldark's Wheal Leisure in the latest series of Poldark. Leave the coast path briefly to get the best view of this pumping engine house. There is a plaque near the engine house commemorating the twenty workers who died here in 1893 when they were drowned by a breach into the flooded old workings (known as a House of Water) of Wheal Drea mine. Rejoin the coast path. 

The wall standing nearby is all that remains of the mine's winding engine house. 

One of the many zawns in the cliffs here, Loe Warren Zawn, has produced over 27 different minerals including various copper minerals and some very unusual rare minerals such as Widenmannite. 

4. Continue along the path.

The next engine house you see a little further on your right is Wheal Edward. The engine housed here ran over 30 heads of Cornish stamps. There are the remains of a large buddle and the ore dressing floors amongst the vegetation. Pitchblende, a uranium ore was found here, some of which was sent to Madame Curie in France. 

In the cliff below the mine is Wheal Edward Zawn. Zawn is from the Cornish word sawen or saven, meaning a deep and narrow sea inlet with steep sides. 

North Zawn is the next feature in the cliff. Widenmannite, a rare mineral - uranyl lead carbonate has been found here. It was first discovered in 1961 in Germany. 

You are now approaching Kenidjack Cliff Castle, an Iron Age fortification. When you reach a fork in the path keep to the right. 

Just to the right of the coast path are the remains of a Cairn Circle. The kerb is the part of the retaining wall of the mound and there is a cyst within the circle. 

The Cliff Castle (Promontory Fort) and remains of the settlement are to your right. Remains of the banks and ditches which comprised the fortification can still be seen. 

There is another sawn or chasm here known as South Zawn. 

The remains of the building on Kenidjack Cliff Castle are from Wheal Castle, a mine which produced tin and copper in the 1800s. 

There are a number of man-made caves in the cliffs at Kenidjack Head, mine adits which have been enlarged by erosion. 

There is another zawn here - Zawn Buzz and Gen, meaning gully of food and song. 

5. Follow the coast path over a stile and start your descent into the Kenidajack Valley, otherwise known as the Nancherrow Valley

The first stage of your descent brings you to a wide track. Along the track to the right are some great views over the coastline. 

6. Instead, turn left, following the track a short distance before turning right onto a narrow path which descends into the valley of the Tregeseal River

To your right are stunning views of Cape Cornwall and the beach at Porthledden Cove

The whole of the area in front of you is the Kenidjack Valley with its fascinating industrial archaeological interest. During the 1800s this valley was a hive of activity with up to fifty waterwheels along the Tregeseal River, reservoirs and leat systems, crushing mills and the Kenidjack Arsenic Works. Wheal Call (Boswedden Mine) had a 65 feet (19.8 metres) diameter waterwheel, the second largest in Britain. 

You can see clearly the wheel-pits where the waterwheels once stood. 

7. When you reach the valley bottom turn right to follow the coast path or make a brief detour to the left to visit Porthledden Beach then return. 

8. After following the path up the valley for a short while follow it to the right, go over a bridge and take the path up the hill. When you reach the top, follow the coast path to the right as it leads you out towards the coast. 

9. When the path forks, keep to the right and ignore the public footpath going inland. Follow the coast path down onto the Cape Cornwall road.

There are only two capes in the UK, the other is in Scotland. 

At the car park there are toilet facilities. 

The striking chimney on Cape Cornwall is part of the old Cape Cornwall Mine. There are also the the remains of St Helen's Oratory to explore and on the seaward side of the Cape is a National Coastwatch Institution Lookout Station

The small beach at the foot of Cape Cornwall is Priest's Cove 

10. After exploring the Cape and its beach leave Cape Cornwall and walk up the road a short distance to Boswedden House. Turn left between the buildings and at the end of this short road pick up the public footpath on your left. 

11. Follow the path and when you reach a junction turn left. Continue along the public footpath. It will cross a lane and you will pass close to a building on your left and past a chimney. 

The footpath crosses another small road near Kenidjack Farm.

12. Follow the public footpath past disused mines and continue to Botallack where you can follow a path back to the car park near Botallack Count House.

The Queens Arms pub in Botallack is open all day if you wish to stop for something to eat and drink. 

Public Transport

Calling at Botallack

Bus service A17 between Penzance and St Just
Bus Service A3 between St Ives and St Just.
Services operated by First Kernow

Visit Cornwall Public Transport for latest timetables

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