About the Tin Coast
The Tin Coast is the area from around St Just to Pendeen, in West Penwith, the final rocky peninsula of West Cornwall that thrusts into the Atlantic. It has a distinctive character, defined by the relationship between the rugged beauty of the landscape with its rich mineral, maritime and agricultural heritage and the people who over millennia have shaped the land to sustain their families and built communities, creating a rich culture that is cherished by the people who live, work and visit this very special place.
Made of granite
The landscape of the Tin Coast tells the story of generations of miners, farmers and fishermen who worked and lived here. Iconic mine buildings dot this spectacular coastline, and towns and villages have retained their character. Due to its remoteness, and the lack of development, the prehistoric field patterns bordering the heathy uplands of the Penwith Moors provide a unique insight into an agricultural landscape which is between two and three thousand years old.
The landscape is full of granite treasures: the outcrops along the coast with remnants of cliff castles, Cape Cornwall, the raised beach of Porth Nanven (Cot Valley), Neolithic and bronze age cairns, tumuli and barrows (Ballowal Barrow), Men-an-tol, Carn Euny, Chun Castle & Quoit, stone circles such as at Nine Maidens and Tregeseal, standing stones, celtic crosses, and holy wells.
A real sense of place
The town of St Just is a vibrant place, with thriving traditional shops, cafes, a quirky second hand bookshop/tearoom, and a brand new art gallery of Kurt Jackson who is a celebrated local artist and environmentalist. Pubs full of character(s) tell the history of the Tin Coast in St Just, Botallack, Trewellard, Pendeen, and Zennor. Immerse yourself in the story of the Tin Coast, which is told through its landscape, villages, buildings, archives, objects, stories, and events. The people who live and work here have a pride of place, and encourage you to explore its rich cultural and natural heritage.
The plen-an-gwary (‘playing place’ in Cornish medieval communities) in St Just is arguably the oldest working theatre in Britain, standing in the heart of the community for over 600 years.
From the humble miners’ cottages, the Count Houses (a Count House was the hub of the day-to-day running of the mines and also where the miners collected their pay), Porthledden House at Cape Cornwall built on a miner’s fortune, the St Just Miner’s Chapel and its Wesleyan heritage, the war memorials, and the granite churches – they all reflect the history of Cornish communities along the Tin Coast, in St Just, Botallack, Trewellard, Pendeen, and nearby Morvah and Zennor.
Precious and beautiful
From early spring to late autumn, the coast offers a splendid display of wildflowers, such as bluebells, thrift, campions, violets in spring to the purple sways of heather in summer and autumn. On a warm day, the coconutty sweetness of blossoming yellow gorse flowers (“furze” in Cornish) is unforgettable. As a Cornish folk song goes: “Kissing’s out of fashion when the furze is out of bloom”, i.e. gorse flowers all year round….
It is a bird watcher’s paradise, from rare birds that have been blown off course by Atlantic storms, from low flying swallows darting across the fields, to buzzards and kites soaring high in the sky. The charismatic Chough, a source of legends and a Cornish emblem, has returned to breed here.
While walking the Coast Path, don’t forget to stand and stare. You may be lucky, and spot seals in one of the little coves along the coast.