White Rocks to St Agnes Beacon Loop
Near St Agnes, TR5 0NSRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
People have been coming to this spot for more than 6,000 years, ever since Nomadic Mesolithic hunters first stopped here - scatterings of their flint weapons and tools have been discovered beyond the car park boulders. There are also foundations of Second World War ammunition stores and gun emplacements, where Bofors guns were mounted and used by trainee gunners.
- Bus stop
Start: Start at the free National Trust car park at White Rocks, St Agnes Head. Grid ref: SW699513. Note: height barrier (2.3m) on car park approach road.
After the capped mineshaft take the waymarked coast path leading down to the right, and follow it, bearing right again at the next junction to reach the Towanroath Shaft engine House.
One of the most dramatically sited buildings in Cornwall, built in 1872 to house a pumping engine which kept the Wheal Coates shafts dry. The pumping shaft was sunk to 185m, well below sea level.
Head south onto the coast path at the far end of the White Rocks car park. Continue along the coast path, taking in the panoramic views south past Porthtowan and Portreath and on to Godrevy Point and St Ives beyond.
Retrace your steps up the coast path, take a hairpin bend to the right, and follow the path up the slope to the Wheal Coates complex.
Surface mining for ores has taken place here since medieval times. Records of mining below ground date from 1692, limited by problems of flooding and raising ore to the surface. Steam-driven pumping and winding engines were introduced in 1828 enabling the mine to reach a depth of 135m.
Leave the mine along the gravel path eastwards to the left of the chimney stack, with St Agnes Beacon directly ahead. Walk through Wheal Coates car park towards the road. Turn left, walk along the road for a short distance, then take the first right to Beacon Cottage Farm touring park.
Follow the lane to reach the farm yard, then walk through the yard between the barns to reach the far end. Go through the signposted gate, cross the field to the far corner, and over the stone stile. Follow the path, ignoring other paths to left and right, then bear left uphill towards the beacon's summit.
The beacon's prominence in the landscape has attracted people for thousands of years, and the hill has served as a burial and ceremonial site, a military lookout post and early warning system, and a place of recreation. Crowning the beacon's highest point (189m) is a trig point with a topographic plate listing points of interest.
Descend from the summit, taking the left-hand path, heading north west. Reaching the road at the foot of the beacon, cross over and go down the lane opposite.
Take the lane on the left after the sentry box, and continue along it to reach a stile. Walk over the steps and onto a path running along the edge of the heath.
Built soon after the outbreak of war in 1939, the 10th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery sprawled across the headland, with rows of Nissen huts, NAAFI canteen, a hospital, a chapel and a garrison theatre where stars such as Bob Hope performed. After the war the camp was converted into a housing estate, occupied until 1966 and finally demolished in 1971.
Follow the path in a straight line, ignoring routes to either side, to reach your starting point.
End: White Rocks car park, grid ref: SW699513
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.75 miles (4.4 km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 104
Some narrow paths, bumpy underfoot, with steep climbs and stone stiles, plus a short stretch along a minor road. May be muddy.
- How to get here:
By foot: The South West Coast Path runs through this area and there is a good network of paths from St Agnes village. See Ordnance Survey explorer map 104 for details
By car: From the A30, at Chiverton Cross roundabout, take B3277 for St Agnes. At the roundabout at the entrance to St Agnes village, turn left and follow the brown tourist signs continue around the beacon for parking at Wheal Coates and St Agnes Head
- Telephone: 01872 522412
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- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/st-agnes-and-chapel-porth/