Wheal Basset, Carn Brea and the Basset Monument Walk

Image courtesy of trewena.com

In Brief

Distance: 3 miles
Expected duration: 2 hours
Starting point: Wheal Basset, Carnkie, Redruth
Finishing point: Wheal Basset, Carnkie, Redruth
Difficulty: 2/5. Good paths and fairly easy. The long upward climb up to Carn Brea is gentle
Wildlife to discover: Carn Brea is teeming with birdlife. There’s even been snowy owl sightings in the past here
Best Insta-worthy spot: Carn Brea Castle. ‘Game of Thrones’-esqe with perhaps the world’s most unusual foundations!
Random fact: A stolen ‘flying’ Ford Anglia car that was used in some of the ‘Harry Potter’ films was found abandoned on Carn Brea in 2006. Who left it there remains a mystery…

Set in the heart of Cornwall’s mining country, this three-mile walk offers panoramic vistas that are simply breathtaking. Culminating with views across the north coast and towards the south coast, the story of the Duchy’s gritty industrial past plays out before your eyes as the colourful landscape and its mine workings, neolithic circles and historical monument that’s dedicated to a mover and shaker in the local tin industry reveal themselves along the way.

Your starting point on this epic journey is Wheal Basset, which is at 1 Post Office Terrace in Carnkie village on the outskirts of Redruth. This old mine used to produce both copper and black tin in the 19th century and there are still plenty of remnants of the old workings strewn across the land here. From the site, follow the footpath north until you get to Post Office Terrace, which will take you into Carnkie. Keep on the Camborne road as you pass the Methodist Hall and you’ll soon reach a gravel track marked Carn Lane. Follow this road right up to the top of Carn Brea, one of the most famous hilltops in Cornwall. It’s a gentle climb up the hill but take plenty of breaks and catch the incredible views as they unfold.

Map created with © OpenStreetMap contributors, available under the Open Database License

Carn Brea, which is Cornish for ‘rocky hill’, overlooks Redruth from 738 feet. On its top you’ll find two of Cornwall’s most iconic structures and one of its most colourful legends. Carn Brea is said to have once been the home of Cornish giant John of Gaunt, who was killed in a battle with Bolster, the giant of St Agnes Beacon. At one end of the hilltop, there’s a rocky outcrop of upright stones which are apparently John of Gaunt’s feet sticking out of the ground. Wandering around the site you’ll also find other formations that are said to be his coffin, head, hand and cradle.

We can’t promise that you’ll see a real giant up on Carn Brea but we can promise incredible views of both the north and south coasts, as well as a giant piece of history: the Basset Monument. This impressive hexagonal 90-feet-high granite tower that’s visible from miles around is a monster when you’re standing at its base. It’s actually a memorial to local mine owner and philanthropist Francis Basset, Lord de Dunstaville and was built in 1836.

A granite boulder’s throw to the east of the monument stands Carn Brea Castle, a 14th century granite stone building that was remodelled in the 18th century. Unusual to say the least, it appears as if it’s been melted on to the huge granite boulders. It was once a castle-styled hunting lodge for the same Basset family but it’s now a restaurant. Take pictures of this, take snaps of the magical views and the monument and the rocky outcrops and the ‘giant’s coffin’, and then return from whence you came after experiencing one of the most famous and beautiful hikes that Cornwall has to offer.

Why we love this walk: There’s an old Cornish song that says you can see the Scilly Isles from the top of Carn Brea. While that’s not true, you can see damn far, so it’s worth the hike up. Standing next to one of Britain’s most charismatic castles and one of Cornwall’s most famous monuments while you take in awesome views over Redruth, Camborne, St Ives and the countless mine workings laid across the landscape below make this walk unmissable.