The memorable beauty of north Cornwall’s coastline has won countless accolades, but it is for the industrial relics that stretch between Perranporth and St Agnes that it has been declared a World Heritage Site. Mining for tin, copper and other minerals has bequeathed a landscape scarred by man and partially reclaimed by nature – all utterly fascinating to explore.
Surfing the waves
Walk up Cliff Road, behind Seiners restaurant. Drink in the view stretching north to Ligger Point; these sands are one of Europe’s premier surfing beaches. Pick up the waymarked coastal footpath along the lane. At the youth hostel gates, rise above the building on the path and stay fairly close to the cliff-edge. This way brings you to the unfathomable remains capping Cligga Head.
The munitions company Nobel developed the place during The Great War, using wulfram mined here to produce nitroglycerin. Some mining activity survived until the 1940s, but the eerie site offers views out to lonely Bawden Rocks.
The path continues away from this dereliction above an ever-more-spectacular system of cliffs, sea-stacks and inaccessible coves. Hanover Cove is named after a ship wrecked here in 1763; its cargo of £53m in gold bullion is said to have never been fully recovered.
Looking back towards Cligga, the cliffs are a palette of green, red, grey and yellow, reflecting the complex mineralogy here. The red cliffs are rich in iron and arsenic, the green is copper. The walk drops into Trevellas Coombe, excellent for low-tide rockpooling.
Walk inland by the stream, past the chimneys and engine houses of the old tin mines. You’ll reach the Blue Hills Tin Streams works, the only place where Cornish tin is currently worked. Take the streamside footpath for Barkla Shop, up the tranquil valley, passing a secluded cottage.
At a footbridge, turn back-left up the waymarked bridleway, merging into a lane. Go ahead past Trevellas Manor Farm, then left on the lane for Cross Coombe. At the bend, take the waymarked track ahead for the coast path and turn right along the cliff-tops back to Perranporth.