Exploring The Bissoe Nature Trail
With a fascinating timeline of history and architecture, beautiful beaches, endearing little streets, galleries, visitor attractions and more restaurants than you can shake your cutlery at, you could spend weeks in Falmouth and never run out of things to do. As with any good holiday though it is worth taking at least one day to explore outside of the town.
One such great place to explore is a section of our extensive mining heritage trail that can be found just outside of Falmouth in a small village called Twelveheads, (TR4 8GX).If you are taking a car park at the large obvious lay-by and turn right. Keep going forward and you will come to a sign post on your left. Take the path marked to Portreath and enjoy.
A mix of bright heather, marshland, trees and sandy white paths open out in front of you. Farming stock can bee seen in picture book meadows and depending on the season you will hear buzzards protecting their young all around. As part of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserve you will discover no end of nature and wildlife to identify and photograph.
Slowly the landscape changes to include a network of tramways and buildings begin to emerge across the skyline. You have arrived at some of the greatest remains of Cornwalls nineteenth Century world famous arsenic trade.
The first arsenic works were established in Britain during the early part of the nineteenth century at Perran-ar-worthal. Then several years later, Henry Conn opened his refinery a few miles up the road at, ‘Point Mills’, where you are standing now. As the Lancashire cotton industry boomed the demand for arsenic used as pigment dyes in the linen grew. Henry’s, ‘Point Mills Arsenic Refinery’, was not to last and eventually bankruptcy forced the it to close in 1843 and it remained dis-used until 1882.
The Cornwall Arsenic work developed in 1882 was far more successful and secured Cornwall and indeed Britain as a world famous leader in the exportation of high quality arsenic. 300 tons of arsenic a year was exported to Australia and Newzealand as sheep deep, the essential ingredient in Norway’s glass making and for the control of the distructive South American troll weevil.
As the by-product of tin and copper mining the profitable trade in arsenic became the saving grace of many flagging mines across the county. The Cornwall Arsenic Company finally closed at the outbreak of World War 2 and remains as you see it today with many of the buildings displaying the scars of the war. The top of the remaining stack was damaged by lightening several years ago.
You can easily spend a day here so take a picnic and children will enjoy riding bicycles along the tramways that are part of the, ‘Bissoe Cycle Tral’. The, ‘Bike Chain Bissoe Bike Hire‘, is situated on the right as you journey toward Twelveheads. The staff can advice you on the many great routes to take and explore as well as providing you with some lovely food and drinks.
There is a bus route into the area and your accommodation provider will be happy to advice and assist you with this option.
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