Family Outing: Geevor tin mine, Cornwall

Tour the undersea tunnels of Penwith and pan for 'gold'

The venue

The largest preserved mining site in the UK. In the far west of Cornwall, on the Penwith peninsula, Geevor is perched on rugged cliffs with workings far out beneath the Atlantic. Geevor was mined until 1990 when a worldwide collapse in the price of tin forced its closure. The gaunt remains of its engine houses make for one of the most spectacular sights in Britain. For nearly a century Geevor played an important role in the communities of Pendeen and St Just: before it closed, the mine was the largest employer in Cornwall. With the help of a grant from the Lottery Fund, the heritage of the mine has been preserved to provide much more than an extensive geology lesson. As much as illustrating the uses of tin and other minerals through the ages, the Heritage Centre shows how local people were shaped by the environment and keeps alive knowledge of the area's strong mining tradition.

Something for children

The underground tour of old mine tunnels will captivate children. They might be a little taken aback at the idea of how, not so long ago, fathers and sons would together work the "lodes" (narrow veins in the rock) for tin, but they will emerge into the daylight with pockets full of rubble that they will swear is gold. There are shaking tables in the mill for them to pan tin, and they can sit at the driver's cabin above the Victory Shaft pulling levers. Penwith itself is packed with activities for children - from pony-trekking and beaches to ice-creams in St Ives and, of course, Land's End, just a few miles from Geevor.

Something for adults

Only the most jaded soul would fail to be moved by the array of old photographs of the miners, working to a depth of 650m and almost a mile out to sea. These were a hardy bunch, paid by the amount of tin they brought up, and they live on in modern-day Geevor. The landscape of granite rock and cliffs against the Atlantic is mesmerising, and the mine is of international significance for its undersea mining techniques. It is easy to see why Penwith has, over the years, inspired so many artists, whose work can be seen in St Ives, Penzance and, on the doorstep of Pendeen, the highly regarded Yew Tree Gallery.


There's a café on the site with a good range of food, not to mention some superb Cornish pasties and one of the best views in the UK. The neighbouring community of Pendeen has two pubs - The North Inn and The Radjel - which are child (and dog) friendly and which serve curries, pizzas and traditional pub fare.


Geevor has a shop selling all things Cornish with the emphasis on tin and pewter gifts. Anyone celebrating 10 years of marriage might find it useful - tin is the marker for the 10th anniversary. There are plenty of books on the history of Cornish tin mining and a host of knick-knacks for children (including some pyrite - better known as fool's gold).

Admission and access

Geevor can get busy in the summer. There are special guided tours for visitors with disabilities, although some areas are not accessible. Guide dogs admitted.

Opening times: 9am-4pm daily, except Saturdays, year-round. Admission prices: adults £6.50, children £4, family ticket (two adults and three children) £17.50.

How to get there

Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 7EW (01736 788662;

By car: From Penzance take the main road to St Just (A3071). Follow the brown signs indicating "historic mining area". Continue along the A3071 and fork right on the B3318 to Pendeen. Turn left at the crossroads to drive through Pendeen and turn right at the Geevor main entrance. From St Ives, follow the beautiful coast road (the B3306) through Zennor and Morvah to Pendeen. By public transport: from Penzance, take the No 17 and ask for Geevor Tin Mine, and in summer from St Ives take the No 300 open-top bus. Call 0870-608 2 608 for bus information. The mine offers a 10 per cent discount to visitors arriving by bus.

Penzance is the south-western terminus for mainline trains in Cornwall, which means that it is accessible from all other parts of the country. There is a branch line running from Penzance to St Ives, via St Erth.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map