It is a delightful short walk of a mile or so along the cliff tops from St Ives to Carbis Bay in Cornwall. In spring the path passes through a tunnel of fresh foliage, wild flowers, and dappled light. You can look down onto the long inviting stretch of clean white sand of the bay long before you reach it. The beach is backed by steep cliffs mostly of dark greenstone (which is metamorphosed basalt from the Devonian period) and houses cluster on the hill above it.

At shore level there are several (I think seven in all) man-made openings in the rock face. These are adits. Adits are horizontal or near-horizontal tunnels into the rock which give access to mine workings or allow drainage from them. Copper and then tin were mined here in the late 19th century and there are numerous shafts and entrances in the hillside above which are now obscured and hidden by the housing development.

Apart from the allure of these mysterious tunnels for cavers and explorers, the entrances form interesting micro-habitats where ferns, mosses, liverworts, filamentous algae, and moisture-loving flowering plants cluster and thrive on the shady rock surfaces where surface-water continually drips down.


11 Replies to “Adits at Carbis Bay”

  1. I’ve read fiction over the years mentioning it involving mining in Cornwall and your photos give me new scenes to add to my mental file. Plus as always, the landscape is lovely and your photos are so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful pictures!😊 There is caves, is they deep? I love to investigate such a thing. There is a long cave in a mountain, 300 meters long. It consists of 5 large halls with tunnels between which you get crawled. I’ll investigate it this summer, if anyone wants to come along, it’s quite dangerous to be there alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They are man-made caves – openings into mines. Some of them are bricked up but I think others are open. I think you must be very brave to enter such places, be aware of all the dangers, and not suffer from claustrophobia! I hope you find a suitable companion to explore the deep Swedish cave in the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Natureontheedge. I wonder how common liverworts and filamentous algae might be in your hotter and drier part of the world.


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