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Luxulyan Valley Walk, Cornwall – Industrial Heritage and Natural Beauty

The Luxulyan Valley is, to my mind, a true Cornish treasure, a place for tranquil walks through the woodland and natural beauty, combined with local mining history, remnants of which can be easily noted on a relaxed wander in this deep-set valley, north of St Austel, at this UNESCO world heritage site. The Cornish name Glynn Gwernan, translates to “Alder Tree Valley.” The most prominent feature in Luxulyan valley is the 10 arched, Treffry Viaduct, which towers over the river Par at a height of 30 metres and is 198 metres in length, it was a major feat in its time, its purpose, to carry a tramway and a leat over the valley.

Many of the remains of Cornish mining industry you will see along the journey through the valley, include the remnants of the original horse drawn tramway route, a 3-mile leat (an artificial water channel,) to power the water wheels and water pressure engines for Fowey consuls mine, also for use by steam engines to pull the mining carts up the incline and of course for ore processing. Joseph Thomas Austen, inherited the Treffry estate in1813 and soon began to expand, develop and improve on the land and mining assets he had, to create a well-connected mining empire, owning one of the deepest and most successful, of the Cornish copper mines. Joseph later changed his name to Joseph Thomas Treffry as he continued to grow his empire, eventually expanding the railway to the port of Par where there was a dedicated ore processing plant, unfortunately Treffry died before this section was completed.  

A grey and rainy, day two of our weekend in Cornwall and by family vote, well 3 out of the 4 of us, the youngest didn’t take part in our walks this time, and after much discussion,  It was decided, we’d have a drive through the country lanes and a day of discovery, firstly to give our big dog a break from too much strenuous walking, he’s not as young as he used to be, and he needs a gentler pace of walk these days, secondly, it’s great to explore!  

After a peaceful drive through some amazing Cornish scenery, we arrived in Luxulyan Valley, it was time to let the dogs stretch their legs, and this was such a stunning landscape in which to explore. Very soon, towering over us the Treffry Viaduct, took our eye, through the trees, this giant granite structure was coming further into view. One of the pathways led up to the top of the viaduct, fascinated, we went for a wander across the top, to views across the wooded valley, the treetops lichen covered and still rather barren, the spring buds had not quite begun to unfurl. After walking the span of the viaduct, we turned back to walk a circular track up to the Carmears water pit and returned via a lower track and underneath the Treffry viaduct, such a relaxed, peaceful walk and yet full of history going way back before the 1800’s.   

We were glad to have chosen boots to walk in on that day as the weather had made a lot of muddy patches in places, though this is a well-kept route, you can never underestimate the weather. Under the trees, we strolled along looking out for pieces of track still laid by the side of path, a nice steady plod and a tranquil one at that. Our bonus view was that over the Carmears wheel pit, I love a bit of engineering and this is a lovely example.

Luxulyan valley is part of the Cornish mining world heritage site and its system of leats helped to connect central Cornwall’s tin and copper mines with the harbours of Charlestown and Par.

The woodland through the Luxulyan valley has been used for making charcoal for the smelting of tin in the early Cornish mining industry. Going way back in history and to the nearby Prideaux castle area is a hill fort, thought to be at least 2000 years old. The valley has seen many changes through time, but has been kept, so far unspoiled and with the help from the friends of Luxulyan valley will remain so. Luxulyan Valley walking is a wonderful way to detox and unwind, a rainy day in Cornwall turned into a chilled-out stroll and a day of discovery. I can’t wait to return, whenever the chance arises.

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