Explore the dramatic remains of Cornwall’s once great tin and copper mines along the cliff tops, says Jeremy Walker
Jeremy Walker takes us through the remains of cornwall’s mines
THE VILLAGE of Botallack on Cornwall’s North Atlantic coast is not pretty or photogenic, but thankfully this is not the reason to visit. The main reason is to explore and shoot the remnants of Cornwall’s once thriving tin and copper mining industries, the dramatic remains of which are scattered across the clifftops throughout the Botallack area.
Since 2006 the area has become a worthy inclusion within UNESCO World Heritage site Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape – and will no doubt be familiar to some from the TV series Poldark.
The centrepiece of the mine workings at Botallack are the remains of the Crown engine houses perched precariously on the cliffs just above the sea. There is an official path leading down to the engine houses, but they can be viewed from all around the clifftops. There is also an unofficial path leading across a narrow causeway and onto a rocky promontory, which has superb views; it’s not for the faint-hearted and one should exercise extreme care here.
As an alternative to the Crown mines you can take a short walk along the clifftop path to the Wheal Owles mines and engine houses. Here there are excellent vantage points to photograph the engine houses and wide- open views along the cliffs toward the Crown mine ruins. A 500-metre walk further along the cliffs will bring you to more ruins and views towards Cape Cornwall.
One of the great advantages of shooting at Botallack is that it is a west-facing coast, and hence, great for catching warm evening sunlight on the ruins or for shooting at sunset with colourful skies and silhouettes. If the weather turns grey and stormy, this is still a suitable location for dramatic and moody pictures.
This part of Cornwall has many scenic locations and it’s worth spending a few days exploring. Apart from the mines of Botallack, the Levant mine just a mile or two along the road has more dramatic ruins and engine houses. Porth Nanven is well worth a visit and so is Cape Cornwall. And only a 30-minute drive away is Penzance and, of course, St Michael’s Mount. I would probably give Land’s End a miss though.