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The Mineral Tramways [cycling & walking]

  • Redruth, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 28 April, 2024

Blessed with more than 40 different minerals, especially lucrative tin and copper, Cornwall became the richest part of Britain in the early 19th century, pioneering global development of the mining industry. As Poldark fans will know, in the late 19th century, increasing foreign competition depressed prices making mining less and less economical. The industry entered a period of steady decline, and the last mine, South Crofty, closed in 1998.

The Mineral Tramways Heritage Project has been working to preserve Cornwall’s central mining district, a scenic landscape of lovely Cornish countryside that’s studded with (safe) abandoned mines, mining villages and other heritage sites.

A 60km network of multi-use trails now crisscross the area, many following the original tramway and railway routes once used to transport ore and supplies to and from the many mines to the coastal ports. It’s easy going, and packed with local wildlife.

While you’re there

Learn more about Cornwall’s mining history at the Mineral Tramways Discovery Centre, which has displays and information about the old mineral tramways and the mines they supported, and the King Edward Mine Museum, a 100-year-old preserved mine. There’s more information on the area’s heritage on the Cornish Mining website.

Who to go with: tour operators

2

Great Flat Lode Trail

  • Redruth, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

The Great Flat Lode near Four Lanes, Redruth, Cornwall

Experience

This short, 7-mile circular off-road walk or cycle trail circles the historic hilltop site of Carn Brea, passing by South Wheal Frances and South Crofty mines. Access it from Camborne or Redruth train stations, or the car park at Treskillard. The trail passes by the King Edward Mine Museum.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 2-3 hours

King Edward Mine Museum

  • Cambornev, Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK)

King Edward Mine Museum

Experience

A 100-year-old preserved tin mine showcasing the history of mining (and the Mineral Tramways generally); much of the original mining equipment remains. It includes the Mineral Tramways Discovery Centre, with displays and information about the old mineral tramways, the mines, the ports used by the industry and the people involved with the trade.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 8+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Maps of the trails and other helpful logistical information are on the website.

If you’re coming by rail, the main train stations in the area are Camborne, Redruth and Truro (all on the main line). There are multiple bike hire shop options, so choose one near your preferred starting/access point; many have free car parking. Go By Cycle will deliver/collect bikes from pre-arranged points in the area. Book bikes in advance in peak season.

 

When to do it

The various trails that form the Mineral Tramways are open all year round. It’s obviously weather dependent, though hardly souls go in all conditions. May and September are best, with fine weather and fewer crowds. UK summer holidays in July & August (usually) have the best weather but also the most fellow cyclists.