Billie's November walk
Our 'Walk of the month' feature this month is steeped in history. It has open spaces, wooded paths and interesting architecture. It's mainly dry and easy underfoot but there are a few sections that have loose stones or can be slippery. It is hilly, with a couple of steep ascents, and a long, mainly gradual descent. There's a good amount of off lead time for dogs, but there are busy roads, not all pavemented, and a few crossings. Unfortunately the lovely little wagon below has lost its fight for survival and very little now remains...
It is our usual one hour-ish. It can be done more swiftly if desired and it can also be completed at a more leisurely, exploratory pace.
The walk will be available to all free of charge for the duration of the month. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
This walk starts in a layby on the road to Wheal Busy, off the main Scorrier to Chacewater road (OS ref: SW738 445, near postcode TR4 8NZ). It’s a good size and can easily fit three cars, although be careful as you pull in because this has been a popular spot for fly tipping.
Take the path leading off the layby, past the chimney. These workings are part of Great Wheal Busy Mine, previously known as Chasewater Mine. To your left are the remains of the Californian Stamps bases, built in 1924 when a last attempt was made to mine this area. Alongside the path on the right are the substantial remains of the flue tunnel and labyrinth that connected the chimney with the shaft type furnace and Brunton Calciner ahead. Please note these workings were for the processing and recovery of arsenic of which many crystals are still present, particularly on the arch under the Calciner.
After the Calciner take the second right-hand path that takes you down into the dip to the left of a fenced off shaft. Go straight up a slight scramble and take the small path that leads off into the trees on the right. This curves around left as you enter the trees and proceeds uphill. Ignore the small paths, first on the right and then on the left. At the top you find yourself on Wheal Busy Lane; used for access only. Turn right.
There are lovely views through the trees on your right to the chimneys and engine houses of Killifreth Mine. Ahead is what remains of the dear little wagon that has now collapsed into undergrowth. Follow this lane, with a preview of St Paul’s Church, as it descends into the valley and turn left as it reaches The Terrace road. Take the next right into Sergeant’s Hill and once over the little bridge turn left into a back lane. This curves right and joins the main road. Turn left.
The area surrounding Chacewater was a hub for mining and tin streaming for many centuries, with Chasewater Mine active from as far back as the 16th century. The village itself however was a mere hamlet in 1699 and the centre of the village we see today was free of buildings for some time as the tin streaming activities dominated the river valleys. By the early 1800s a ramshackle affair of buildings had sprung up including 13 pubs and a large brewery! Planning took hold, courtesy of the Boscawen family (owners of the Tregothnan Estate since John de Boscawen married Joan of Tregothnan in 1335), and by the 1840s the main road had its current rows of shops and houses.
Cross at the pelican crossing and turn right into The Square. On the left Sunny Corner Nurseries was once the village market, originally built at a similar time to the main street but rebuilt in recent years. The cobbled pavement outside the nursery and the lovely cottage on the right is thought to be the original pavement.
Straight on up the hill and once past the Village Hall the school will come into view. Built in 1847 the school and integrated schoolhouse (the two-storey part in the middle) was provided by the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Church of England, not the most succinct of society names! The school was altered and enlarged a number of times, including in 1878/9 by James Hicks, the prolific architect responsible for the development of the Clinton and Albany Roads area in Redruth.
Ahead now is the beautiful St Paul’s Church. The first incarnation, which included the current embattled tower was designed by Charles Hutchens and built in 1828. In 1892 the main building was rebuilt by Edmund Sedding, in Elvan stone quarried from nearby Creegbrawse. This new church was smaller to fit a reduced congregation reflecting the decrease in population suffered by the village as the mining industry declined.
Still going uphill, we pass the well-hidden Chacewater House, previously a grand vicarage, and take the next right into the marked Public Byway. Follow this track, keeping left by the houses and then turning right. The tree covered tracks offer welcome shade on a hot day. A little way along the track curves right and we take the path that curves left. This narrower path can get muddy but makes up for it by being lovely and peaceful! Bear right as the path splits and follow this as it widens and bends right to join the road.
Turn left and proceed along the road. Take the next Public Byway on the right, just before Truro Tractors. Skirt around the caravan park and past the stables. On the left at the track junction is Salem Cottage (B&B), or Hornblower’s Cottage that was the home of the Hornblower family from the mid 1700s. Joseph Hornblower partnered Thomas Newcomen in the pursuit of innovative atmospheric steam engines, and his sons Jonathan and Josiah were both leading mining engineers. Carrying on the tradition Jonathan’s son Jonathan was also an engineer and, after working for James Watt on his modified Newcomen engine, took Watt’s design and patented his own version!
Turn right and once at the road turn left to walk a short distance along the verge. Cross with care to go through the small wooden gate into a young woodland. Follow any path, heading towards the top right. Go through the open gateway and bend left passing more trees to exit via another small gate at the roadside. Turn right to go back to the layby.
By undertaking this walk you are accepting full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and those in your party. © AC Elliott 2020