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 Cornish tin mine tours new?

This is the first time that genuine mine exploration has been available to the public in Cornwall. There are a few places 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 gaining ever more popularity, the very real story Cornwall and its metal mines played in the industrial revolution remains largely untold. The best way to experience this for yourself is hands-on exploration with us, or learning from our expert mine guides through a guided walk.

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 tourists resorts, such as Newquay and Falmouth. Directions will be available upon booking.

When does it happen?

Please check our availability calendar to see when specificmine tours and surface tours are running. If you would like to experience a Cornish mine tour on an alternative date, 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 £20 per person for our guided surface tours. Our underground mine tours start from £35 per person. Discounts are available for family and group bookings. Please see out prices page for more information.

Sounds scary! Is Underground Adventure right for me?

We offer 3 tiers of Cornish Mining Experience in descending levels of adrenalin:

1. The Underground Adventurer

2. The Underground Explorer

3. The Surface Explorer

Discretion is advised for all wishing to take-on the Adventurer as this 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’.

For those interested in the mining history that put Cornwall on the map and inspired the Poldark TV series, or those not wishing high energy exploration underground, we recommend The Surface Explorer.

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, harness and wellington boots. 

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! 

Don’t forget a good breakfast/lunch and snacks for after always go down well! 

I don’t want to go underground, what can you offer me?

We aim to offer the Ultimate Cornish Mining Experience, regardless of your age or ability. If you’re interested in the rich history of Cornwall and its mines but don‘t fancy going underground, the Surface Explorer should be just about the most in-depth walking presentation of Cornish mining history on offer. Not to mention a great introduction to the stories behind famous sets of the Poldark TV series.  Please see our activities page for more details. 

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 Exlorer 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 wellington boots. 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 Adventurer this is 14yrs+; the Underground Explorer 10yrs+. The Surface Explorer is suitable for all ages.

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, entering the venues requires a short walk. If you have booked your adventure and it’s looking dismal, we’ll be in touch to offer a reschedule or refund. 

How Do I Book?

Give us a call, email, or better still, fill out the contact form on our website and we will discuss your booking. All of our bookings our bespoke, so 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! Our mine tours must be booked in advance; our preferable means is by BACS transfer (details provided on our payment form), however we do also take card payments by phone during peak months.

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, some of our locations can be reached by public transport, plus a short walk. We will be happy to assist you with bus times if required.

I want to learn about Cornish Mining History!

If you want the ultimate personal guided exploration, consider booking a Surface Explorer Tour. This lasts 2-3hrs and is just about is the most in-depth walking presentation of Cornish mining you’ll ever find on offer.

There are lots of ways to learn more about Cornish mines. 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 from 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!