On the back of the success of the copper and tin mines, Pendeen grew to support the growing mining community until the end of the 19th century. Pendeen may not be your picture postcard Cornish village, but this is a real community, its isolated location and common mining past has developed a strong sense of identity. The village has its own community centre hosting many active clubs and groups, as well as its own marching band. For the tired walker the village meets your needs with two pubs, a shop, as well as fish and chips and some excellent short evening wanders from the village.
One big advantage of stopping overnight at Pendeen is that you can easily visit the fascinating Geevor Mine which is based here. This was Cornwall’s last working mine which finally closed in 1990. You can wander freely through the workings of the last surviving tin mine in Cornwall and take an hourly underground tour guided by a former miner down one of the narrow adits ‘(a horizontal passage running into the rock). Known as ‘Wheal Mexico,’ this is one of the passages worked around 200 years ago. Only after seeing this can you start to fully appreciate what dangers and discomfort the west coast Tinners faced out here. The mine offices now house a museum telling the story of Geevor and explaining the method of mining and the processes of crushing and washing the ore to recover the tin. Elsewhere on site are displays of original mining machinery and a fascinating museum. Refreshments are also available in a tea room with the most stunning Atlantic views and anyone who does visit this site will be all the better placed for understanding the many mining remains that you will come across on your next days walk to Lands End.
The area has two remarkable "Fogou’s" or underground Iron age burial chambers, both of particular interest as the entrances are open to those with the nerve and a torch. The largest is in the grounds of Pendeen House (ask at the farm to visit) and has a main passage 56 feet long with several chambers off it. It’s a mysterious and unique place said to have been possibly used for winter solstice rituals, but don’t follow a tall woman in white inside if she appears at the entrance, if you do it is said that you will see her change into a terrifying and deadly form once inside her lair.
The church here is based on Iona Cathedral and was built in some grandeur to keep unemployed miners busy. A nice evening amble would be back down to the pleasant beach at Portheras Cove. The Alacrity was wrecked here in 1963 and sharp metal is still found on the beach today, so don’t go barefoot. At low tide you will still be able to see parts of the wreck on the jagged rocks.
For rest and refreshments, the North Inn in Pendeen was a favourite haunt of tin miners until the local mine closed in 1990 and now has a warm welcome for wearisome walkers. It was voted CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) Cornwall Pub of the Year for 2003 and is always on their lists.