Resting on the coastal path between the popular coves of St Agnes and Chapel Porth, the remarkably intact remnants of this formerly functioning tin mine stand as a proud reminder of Cornwall’s rich industrial past. But far from the stark and spoiled ground one might expect from toiled land, the area surrounding Wheal Coates has grown to be one of intense dramatic beauty.
In operation until the 20th Century’s teenage years, this Grade II listed building has roots that extend as far back as the Middle Ages and evidence of this early extraction still exists in the Towanroath Vugga sea caves that sit buried in the rock beneath the original pumping house.
Nature has once again staked its claim on these cliff tops, and hardy plants such as gorse, heather and wild thyme flourish, adding both colour and aroma to the well-trodden walkways.
Such is the unspoiled attraction of this place that it is almost too easy to forget the sheer drop that lies just beyond the mine, and though the temptation to look down may be great, a peek over the edge is not advised. Thrill seekers should, instead, opt for a prime position in the National Trust owned car park at Beacon Drive and take in the wide expanse of blue Atlantic that stretches for miles before reaching the horizon. Here, the theatricality of the coastline – complete with crumbling rock faces and crashing waves – can really be admired.
Though this scenery can be appreciated come rain or shine all year round, those with fortunate timing will be treated to a sunset that, once observed, will be very hard to forget.