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Caradon Hill and the Copper Mines

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Caradon Hill and the Copper Mines
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 07 Jul 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cornwall, Bodmin Moor
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Caradon Hill and the Copper Mines
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4.5 mile fairly strenuous circular walk across Caradon Hill on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. The walk starts from Minions, the highest village in Cornwall, and heads out onto Caradon Hill, following the well made track around the hill edge on the easy outgoing section. The walk route then climbs to the hill’s summit before descending through old quarries and tin/copper mines to reach the stream in the valley and follows this stream through farmland to return to the village. There are plenty of spectacular views throughout and you’ll also have chance to explore the ruins of the mining industry that shaped this part of Cornwall in the 1800s.

The walk is very exposed so make sure you are well prepared. Caradon Hill is home to free roaming horses, sheep and ponies so take particular care with dogs. The walk follows tracks and open areas of Bodmin Moor which, as you would expect, will be very wet and boggy after wet weather so good waterproof boots are a must. Some of the tracks are rocky and uneven underfoot and after periods of rain the tracks running alongside the stream can be standing in an inch or two of water. The first stretch of path following the stream is very rocky and you will need to scramble for just a short distance. The second section following the stream across the fields can be very muddy. There are two stiles (both with easy crossing points for dogs) plus a few gates. Approximate time 2-3 hours, depending on the conditions underfoot.

The walk starts from ‘The Hurlers’ car park in the village of Minions. The free car park is marked with a brown sign and is on the main road through the village at the southern side. Approximate post code PL14 5LE.

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Walk Sections

Car Park to Disused Engine House
Car Park to Disused Engine House

Start point: 50.5137 lat, -4.4555 long
End point: 50.515 lat, -4.449 long

Leave the Hurler’s Car Park onto the road and turn left heading to the centre of the village. Turn right down the tarmac lane, immediately to the right of the shop/post office, heading directly for the mast on the hill ahead. Pass by a number of properties on the right and then as soon as the wall on the left bends left, turn left to follow the wall heading for the disused engine houses ahead. Pass through the gap in the wall ahead, a few paces to your right, and then continue on the path to reach the first disused engine house.

Between 1700 and 1914 the mining industry in Cornwall completely transformed its landscape. In 1836 a rich lode of copper ore was discovered just south of Minions village. This changed the area from a quiet rural landscape to one of the most productive mining areas in the world. Some of the mines reached depths of 1500ft or 400m.

Disused Engine House to View of Upton Cross
Disused Engine House to View of Upton Cross

Start point: 50.515 lat, -4.449 long
End point: 50.5156 lat, -4.4313 long

Continue past this engine house on your right, heading in the direction of the second engine house over the small ridge ahead. Climb to the brow of this low ridge and you will find it is in fact an old rail track. Turn right onto this fairly obvious track, with the mast of the hill to the right and the second engine house with chimney to the left.

19th Century Bodmin Moor was remote, far from any navigable rivers or reliable roads. The problem facing the mine owners was how to import the coal for the engines and move the copper ore to the coast for shipping to South Wales where it could be smelted. The solution was to build the Liskeard and Caradon railway which eventually stretched from the mines here to the ship yards at East Looe. The railway opened in 1846. Originally horse drawn carts were used but these were replaced by steam engines in the 1860s. In 1917 the railway closed.

Follow the old rail track going straight ahead and then gradually curving right to begin to head south. As you continue bending to the right you will reach a section which gives an excellent view of another hill with a beacon, and to its right the village of Upton Cross.

View of Upton Cross to Spoil Heap
View of Upton Cross to Spoil Heap

Start point: 50.5156 lat, -4.4313 long
End point: 50.5054 lat, -4.4284 long

Soon afterwards the old rail track once again becomes a long straight section, this time heading south. Follow the track for some distance.

You will still be able to see the mast of Caradon Hill on the right. The Caradon Hill transmitting station includes a 237.7 metres (780 ft) guyed steel lattice mast plus two smaller towers used for telecommunications and a wireless internet signal. The station was built in 1961 by the Independent Television Authority to bring ITV to South West England for the first time.

As you pass under some power lines on your right you’ll pass an old granite spoil heap from the quarries here. Keep ahead to the bottom of the hill where the rail track runs close to the road on the left and you will see a very large spoil heap on your right.

Spoil Heap to Gap in Stone Wall
Spoil Heap to Gap in Stone Wall

Start point: 50.5054 lat, -4.4284 long
End point: 50.5054 lat, -4.4318 long

Follow the main track ahead and as it swings to the right, keeping the spoil heap on your right. The path now runs uphill with a stone wall on the left. At the T-junction turn right and then follow the main track heading straight up hill to pass by the entrance to Wheal Tor Lodge on the right.

Follow the tarmac lane winding up hill passing the entrance to a second property on the right and passing under power lines. Immediately afterwards, as the tarmac lane swings right, fork left onto a narrow grass path to reach a gap in the stone wall on your left.

Gap in Stone Wall to Quarry Mouth
Gap in Stone Wall to Quarry Mouth

Start point: 50.5054 lat, -4.4318 long
End point: 50.5081 lat, -4.4432 long

Pass through the gap in the stone wall and turn right to follow the grass path heading uphill with the wall on your right. Continue climbing the path and over to your left you’ll have wonderful views over to the south Cornwall coast.

Just before you draw level with the mast on your right and as you pass under some power cables, fork left away from the wall heading for a large pile of granite boulders. Pass the boulders on your right and then swing right to follow the line of boulders to reach a sheltered mouth in the quarry pile.

Quarry Mouth to Track Junction
Quarry Mouth to Track Junction

Start point: 50.5081 lat, -4.4432 long
End point: 50.5026 lat, -4.4445 long

Turn left on the narrow less obvious path heading downhill towards the village in the distance. Continue on this path downhill and sweeping slightly left to head for the ruined engine houses and chimneys on the brow of the ridge below and for the village in the distance.

After some distance, pass between the ruins of the engine houses with the taller chimneys to your right and the old mine shaft ruin directly on your left.

The hill was once famous for its copper mines. The South Caradon Copper Mine was the largest copper mine in the UK in its heyday, 150 years ago. Other disused copper and tin mines are scattered around the base of the hill.

Follow this track heading gradually downhill with the valley and the village now over to your right. You will come to a junction of tracks ahead.

Track Junction to Valley Bottom
Track Junction to Valley Bottom

Start point: 50.5026 lat, -4.4445 long
End point: 50.5032 lat, -4.449 long

Turn right at the furthest T-junction onto the lower main stone track heading down to the valley bottom. Follow the path as it swings gradually right and then continue as it swings sharp left with the stream now visible on your right. Just before you reach the tall chimney ahead, turn sharp right onto a path under an arch of trees to emerge out to the stream at the valley bottom.

You will notice some sections of this area are cobbled. The area was used by the ‘bal maidens’, female mine workers, to break up the tin or copper ore using hammers before it was smelted.

Valley Bottom to Bridge Remains
Valley Bottom to Bridge Remains

Start point: 50.5032 lat, -4.449 long
End point: 50.5078 lat, -4.4524 long

Turn right to follow the grass path running once again uphill with the stream on your left. Scramble your way through the rocky ground ahead with the stream still directly on your left. The path soon levels out to become a rocky but wider path alongside the meandering stream.

A little distance further you will be forced to cross the stream – there are plenty of stepping stones – and you will reach the garden boundary of a medieval farmhouse ahead, with a gate with a private sign.

Turn left here to cross a smaller stream and then pass over a stepped stone stile. Turn immediately right to cross over a wooden stile and continue climbing uphill with the stream and the farmhouse to your right. Follow this section with large granite blocks which is an old section of the rail track – note this section can be a little flooded after wet weather. As you emerge from the canopy of trees continue up the short slope to reach a junction of paths.

Continue straight ahead, again down into the cutting – note this section can be quite muddy. At the end you’ll reach the remains of a bridge across this rail track – a raised sleeper on stone pillars.

Bridge Remains to End
Bridge Remains to End

Start point: 50.5078 lat, -4.4524 long
End point: 50.5142 lat, -4.4547 long

Keep straight on here, passing a house and some derelict stone properties on the right. Pass through a five bar metal gate to continue along a dirt track. Pass by a water treatment works on the right. Pass through the wooden gate and continue ahead passing more derelict stone properties on the right. Keep ahead on the fenced grass path set with granite stones – another rail track remnant – with stone walls each side.

Follow the old rail track to its end. Pass through a gate and continue straight on passing whitewashed properties on the right. Follow the track to reach a T-junction with the main road in Minions. Turn left along the road to return to the car park on the right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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