Wheal Coates

In Brief

Type: Historical mining site
Suitable for: Walkers and history buffs
Address: Beacon Drive, St Agnes, near Perranporth and Portreath
Price: Free. The car-park is £8 for all day
Dog friendly?: Yes

Mine buildings. There are loads of them strewn across Cornwall. So what makes Wheal Coates so special? Well, it’s in a serene area, it’s dramatic and it makes for perfect Instagram fodder due to this area’s incredible beauty. Sure, many other mining heritage spots equal this majesty but there’s just something about Wheal Coates…

On the edge of a sheer clifftop that’s a little way down the coast from St Agnes Head, a few miles down the coast from Perranporth, a few miles up the coast from Portreath and just up from Chapel Porth Beach, Wheal Coates dominates the rugged landscape. This National Trust site is just beautiful. Walking is, of course, the main activity here but so is checking out the former mining buildings due to their rich history.

The tin mine at Wheal Coates opened in 1802 and went on to employ at least 140 miners. It worked until 1889 and became an iconic Cornish sight, particularly on postcards. It actually reopened between 1911 and 1913 but that was way past its heyday. It was home to three engine houses but the Towanroath Shaft engine house became the most famous building. Its Grade II listed remains are still on the site today, visited by people from across the globe every day who take a good look around before standing on a grate and peering into the hole in the ground just outside. Here, they see the water far below where the miners once toiled.

The Towanroath Shaft engine house was actually built in 1872 and was used to keep water out of the mining shaft 600 feet below its building. It’s not the only building on the site as there is another chimney stack and old furnace but it is the most impressive. Spend plenty of time taking it all in and stay late too as the sunsets are grand here and, after dark, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best stargazing for miles around. History, nature, beauty, wildlife and incredible views. Yeah, there’s definitely something about Wheal Coates…