Billie's January walk

January 2020 has arrived...  Our walk this month has history, open spaces and a good amount of off lead time for dogs.  There are some soggy patches and also loose stones in places making it a little uneven underfoot.  It has a couple of steepish descents and one steep, potentially slippery climb.  It has one short stretch of non pavemented road.  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!

Wheal Busy

Starting at Killifreth Mine car park, off the Scorrier to Chacewater road (OS ref: SW734 445, nearest postcode: TR4 8NB, it's also on several bus routes serving Redruth-Chacewater).  This is a small car park and can get busy especially on nice weekends.  It also has a rather long pot hole as you come off the road so drive in, and out with care.  There is an information plaque here, but no bin.

Today we’re going in the opposite direction from what’s detailed on the plaque and crossing over the main road to a narrow path just to the right of the entrance.  As this path opens out keep right and then straight along the track.  Just before you cross a small road there is another information plaque.  Cross on to the track opposite with the Tregothnan Estate sign.  

The building with its back to you on the left is the old Wheal Busy Smithy, a blacksmith’s workshop, built c.1872, just before mining was suspended at this site in 1873.  Apart from its lovely square chimney, it has two cast iron lintels, one on the far end, and the other on the front.  Just past this head towards the caringly restored Wheal Busy Pumping Engine and Boiler Houses.  These are fenced off as they are privately owned but are close enough to get a good look at.  There is also an information board in front.

Continuing with Wheal Busy to your left, follow the path down and turn to the left.  Carry on along the main track, ignoring the footpath to your left, and pass with the house on your left.  This is a rather muddy lane, but it’s not usually deep.  A little further on you will see a large gateway ahead of you.  Just in front of this to the left is a tree arched path leading downward.  As you descend you will see the railway viaduct in front and to your right, and if you time it right, you may get a train passing over.  At the bottom turn right onto the road, and right again on to Station Road.  This is a quiet but fast road so take care particularly on the corner ahead.

Just past the bend take the path on your right leading steeply upwards.  This path can be slippery when wet so take care. Towards the top of this you will be able to see the viaduct once more.  Also keep an eye out for Buzzards and Kestrels as both frequent this area.  On reaching the track turn left.  Be aware that although motorbikes are not permitted on these tracks, you may well still encounter them from time to time.  

Keep left when the track splits and as this track starts to descend, Chacewater, hidden almost completely by trees, is in front of you.  St Paul’s Church with its distinctive embattled tower on the other side of the valley, is about all that is visible.  The tower belonged to the original church built in 1828.  A lightning strike on 3rd February 1866, surely not a good sign for a religious building, damaged the rest beyond repair.  A much smaller church was eventually rebuilt in 1892. 

Follow this track as it narrows by the farm gates, and at the bottom turn right along Wheal Busy Lane.  This track is used for access, so there will be an occasional vehicle.  A little way past the farm there is a dilapidated railway wagon on your left.  Unfortunately one end has now collapsed.  There are glimpses of engine houses and chimneys through the trees on your left most of the way along here.

Turn left as the hedges and undergrowth end, and you reach the large rocks on both sides. You now have a large open area in front of you and a fantastic view of the industrial past.  We’ve counted nine chimneys, including the distinctive long thin one of Killifreth, from here.  Now it’s your turn! 

There are several paths down and around, take your pick and make your way to the track running on the right of the nearest chimney.  You’ll find a collection of ruins scattered around, more than you first notice.  On the left of the main track is a Brunton Calciner that would have been linked up to the chimney via a Labyrinth.  Developed by a Scottish engineer William Brunton, the Calciner was a mechanised furnace for the removal, and recovery of arsenic from the tin ore.  If you look closely under the arch, you’ll be able to see very pretty arsenic crystals!  Please, if you touch anything, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

To the right of the path as you near the chimney are more mining remains, in the form of Stamps platforms.  The road is just past the chimney so keep a watch on children and animals.  After exploring, cross the road and take the right-hand path opposite.  This area also has a lot of shafts, and mining remnants, so it’s safer to keep to the path.  When this joins the main path, at the rocks, turn left.  Follow this path along and round to the left before crossing the road and heading back to the car park.  Please take your rubbish home with you.

By undertaking this walk you are accepting full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of yourself and those in your party. © 2020 AC Elliott


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