What is Mine Exploration?

Mine exploration brings a blend of history and adventure you just can’t get anywhere else. Once abandoned, they leave compelling spaces to be explored, where we can be simultaneously marvelled and puzzled by what the miners accomplished, as well as enjoy the sport of underground adventure. Mine exploration can range from walking through spacious tunnels to using advanced caving techniques to move up, down and across the mine. Whichever methods you use, you’re sure to have lots of fun!

Is it Caving?

Caves are fascinating natural formations. They give a unique insight into the geomorphological processes that shape the earth. They do, however, lack the rich industrial archaeology of mines. Combining the thrill of underground exploration with a hands-on appreciation the incredible history of mining, is what makes mine exploration unique.

The techniques and equipment we use are borrowed from the world of caving. Exploring mines differs from caves in one main way: they’re designed for humans to enter and explore! This means crawling and squeezing is limited to a minimum, and usually only found in the oldest parts of the workings. Miners usually drove drainage tunnels into the deepest levels, meaning today, there is little risk of flash-flooding in most Cornish tin mines. Except for innumerable sea caves, there are no caves in Cornwall, due to an absence of rock types in the region that lend themselves to cave formation.

Are Our Cornish Tin Mine tours Unique?

Our tours are the only genuine mine exploration adventures available to the public in Cornwall. Furthermore, we are the only providers of mine exploration in the entire south of England! There are a few places in Cornwall where you can visit some small show mines and enjoy a short underground tour. This is not what we are offering! This is the first time it is possible to journey deep into an authentic tin mine and enjoy the thrill of mine exploration, and all the adventure that entails. There are no fixed light, no frills, just real mine exploration.

Mine exploration in Cornwall has been going on since there were mines. Many of the first mine explorers were ex-miners. They knew how the mines worked, and they were aware of the dangers. Some were just re-visiting their former places of work. Mine exploration remains an activity that should only be carried out by properly trained and equipped individuals. 

Cornwall? Mines? What’s that about?

Where have you been?! With the famous Poldark tales bringing to the world of Cornwall and its mines through fiction, the very real story Cornwall and its metal mines played in the industrial revolution remains largely untold. Cornwall's long history of mining is of huge historical signifcance, and is integral to the ladnscape of Cornwall, and the charater of its people. The best way to experience this for yourself is hands-on exploration with us, learning from our expert mine guides as you venture through the underground workings.

Where does it happen?

Our Cornish tin mine tours take place in the far west of Cornwall, in and around the picturesque Poldark town of St Just. This is only a few miles from Penzance, St Ives or Land’s End. We are easily reached from major Cornish tourist resorts, such as Newquay and Falmouth. Directions will be available upon booking.

When does it happen?

Please check the booking section of our website to see our availability and book your adventure with us. If you would like to experience a Cornish mine tour on a date not listed on the bookings calendar, please contact us, and if we can accommodate you and your group, we will be more than happy to do so.

How much does it cost?

Prices start from just £40 per person for our entry-level Underground Explorer tour. Discounts are available for family and group bookings. 

Sounds scary! Is Underground Adventure right for me?

We offer 3 tiers of Cornish Mining Experience in ascending levels of challenge and adrenalin:

1. The Underground Explorer

2. The Underground Adventurer 

3. The Underground Adventurer Extreme

The Underground Explorer is our entry level mine tour. This amazing trip gives you a chance to fully explore our abandoned tine mine. With the exception of descending some ladders, there are no heights, drops, or mine shafts to negotiate to complete this journey. This trip does feature an optional abseil to give you a taste of what a more advanced caving trip would be like. However, this obstacle can easily be avoided by anyone with a fear of heights.

The Underground Adventurer truly lives up to its name! You will be scared! You will be challenged! You will love it! But if you have not taken part in outdoor activities such as high ropes, coasteering or climbing before, you may wish to try the Underground Explorer as a fantastic introduction to the secrets ‘below grass’. The Adventurer features repeated obstacles at height, as this through-trip, from one end of a tin mine, to the other, requires everyone taking part to cross bottomless mine shafts, and climb up through the walls of the mine workings.

For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Cornwall, we have the Underground Adventurer Extreme. This a full-day of exploration. In the morning you will compete the Underground Adventurer trip. After a lunch break, we then head into an entirely different mine on the other side of the valley for even more exploration. This second part of the trip can only be accessed by abseiling down a mine shaft. Once down, we have an extensive explore of this mine, before climbing our way out, including using caving ladders to make our escape. This is a long day of adventure, so is only suitable for those with a high level of fitness and appetite for exploration.


Is Mine Exploration Safe?

Your underground adventure is fully insured and regulated to industry standards. Our guides are qualified Mine Leaders, fully trained in first aid, and have years of experience dealing with just about every situation underground you can imagine. Underground adventure might be new for you, but if you’re up for the challenge, we will be with you every step of the way.  

What equipment do I need for mine exploration?

Cornwall Underground Adventures will provide you with all the specialist equipment you need for safe mine exploration. This includes a helmet, head torch, caving suit, and harness.

Please bring old clothes, as there is a chance of getting muddy. We recommend rough trousers/leggings and a long-sleeved/thermal top. It’s worthwhile bringing a change of socks and trousers, in case your feet get wet! We also ask you to bring your own wellington boots. Let us know if you don't have your own, as we can provide them for you, if necessary.

Don’t forget a good breakfast/lunch and snacks for after always go down well! If you are doing the Underground Adventurer Extreme with us, you will need to bring your own lunch.

I’m claustrophobic / scared of heights, is this suitable for me?

Our underground activities are not recommended for sufferers of vertigo or claustrophobia. We want you to walk away with the experience of a lifetime, and our guides will help you face all challenges deep underground. However, this cannot be to the detriment of other group members or even cancellation of the session altogether.

If you are unsure, but want to try mine exploration, we recommend our Underground Explorer trip. During this trip you are never too far from daylight, and there is no need to be exposed to any heights if you do not wish to be. Any questions, please get in touch. 

Will I get wet and muddy?

We will provide you with a caving suit and can provide wellington boots, if you don't have your own. You will need to bring some old clothes to wear underneath the caving suit, as there is always a chance of some mud or moisture getting in through the suit, or over the top of the wellies. There are no sections where we will be immersed in water (unless you fall off the Apple Pie traverse, of course!).

How many people can come?

We can accommodate large groups, so are a perfect adventurous activity for stag groups, hen dos, birthday parties etc. If you have a large group, we do recommend you contact us as far in advance as is possible, to ensure we have sufficient availability.

Don't worry if you are just a single explorer, you are more than welcome to join one of our groups for your Cornish mine adventure!

Do your mine tours have a minimum age?

This depends on the activity. For the Underground Explorer 10yrs+; the Underground Adventurer this is 14yrs+. The minimum age for the Underground Adventurer Extreme is 16 years, and please note that, on this trip, anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Are your mine tours weather dependent?

Our Underground mine tours operate in all but the most adverse conditions. Underground, conditions are reasonably dry and temperate; however, before our trip, we must get changed in the open air, and entering the venue requires a short walk. Therefore, very rarely we have to change our plans if the weather dictates it. If you have booked your adventure and it’s looking truly dismal, we’ll be in touch to offer a reschedule or refund. 

How Do I Book?

There are two options to book a trip with us. Firstly, and most simply, simply go to the bookings section of our website. here you can select which underground tour you wish to undertake, choose your date, and pay with any debit or credit card,

Alternatively, give us a call or email and we can discuss your booking. This option is useful if, for example, you are not sure which trip is for you, or which date you want to book. You will always deal with one of our staff who will ensure your booking is completed successfully, and that you book the right tour for you and your group.

How do I pay for my Underground Adventure?

Firstly, thanks for choosing an Underground Adventure in Cornwall with us!

If you use our online booking system, you can pay for the mine exploration trip with any debit or credit card. If you contact us directly to arrange your booking, we will send you bank details to pay for your adventure by BACS transfer.

Do you provide transport?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide transport to our venues for you and your group. If you do not have your own transport, St. just is well served by local buses. From the bus station in St. Just, our meeting point is approximately 30 minutes on foot.

I want to learn more about Cornish Mining History!

Firstly, we have lots of information on our website. We regularly add blog posts, so make sure you follow these.

There are lots of other ways to learn more about Cornish mines. Kresen Kernow, the Cornwall Records Office in Redruth, has a fantastic resource of books and manuscripts which is thoroughly recommended for a rainy day of your stay. If you wish to purchase a book, Allen Buckley’s “The Story of Mining in Cornwall” will make a hardened historian out of the greatest novice.

Digitally, the online resources of Aditnow.co.uk, Mindat.org and Wikipedia are great springboards to learn more. And of course, CornwallUnderground.co.uk hosts much of interest here under the information tab.

Do you provide training?

We do not currently provide training for people to undertake underground exploration on their own. We reiterate that mine exploration and caving can be dangerous without adequate training and equipment. If you are interested in learning the skills required to explore mines and caves, as well as meet like-minded people, contact your nearest caving club, who will be more than happy to get you started. The website New to Caving is a great resource.

You haven’t answered my question :(

Sorry to hear that. Any queries please get in touch by email, the Contact page or by phone. We look forward to hearing from you!