There's nothing like travelling on foot to truly see what's around you. These are mostly within a walk of St Just. The best map is: Around & About St Just, Pendeen and Cape Cornwall, it's 1:16000 and small enough to be easy to use.
The path runs 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset all the way around to Poole in Dorset and it's well worth a crack if you have a lot of time to spare. These paths were cut by coastguards checking the lands for smuggling. You can walk the whole coast, rarely having to go more than a few hundred feet inland. On the basis that I'm planning these notes to cover no more than a day's walk from St Just it's fair to claim our stretch as the path from Gurnard's Head on the north coast all the way around to Nanjizel past Lands End. There's not a bit of this path that I'd miss out, although at times the up and down gets pretty hard.
In 2006 UNESCO recognised the Cornish Mining sites with World Heritage status and having significance and value to the whole of humanity.
How grand does that sound?
Mineral extraction has been important in Cornwall throughout history, and particularly since the early 1700s when ores began to be mined on an industrial scale. Locally it's worth visiting Geevor in Trewellard. Geevor was the last mine to close in the area. That was in 1990. Now there's a decent tour, often led by former miners,that gives good insight to the process, and usually takes you underground (but don't worry, not far).
And at the other end of the scale there's the National Trust's Levant where the original 1840 beam engine has been restored and can be seen working. The mines at Levant went a frightening 2.5 kms under the sea. While you pay to visit both of these, a walk along the cliffs from St Just to Pendeen will take you past spectacular scenery, made all the more interesting by the engine houses of many mines from long ago, including the famous Crown Mines perched on the edge below Botallack.
West Penwith, our peninsula, apparently has more ancient sites per square kilometre than anywhere else in Europe. Here are a few of my favourites that I've walked to. If you have use of the studio's copy of the detailed Around & About St Just, Pendeen and Cape Cornwall map you'll find all of these marked, and a lot more smaller sites too.
It still amazes me that you can stumble upon something as significant as this without paying and with hardly any signs either. Park at the foot of Chapel Carn Brea, walk up to the top for the view, then follow the footpath across the road from the car park until you get to the Iron Age settlement of Carn Euny, passing a holy well on the way. There are the remains of several houses clear to see, and a fogou to intrigue any enquiring mind.
The Iron Age hillfort dates from a few centuries BC and was probably in use for 400 years or so. While now it's little more than a pile of stones it remains impressive.
Quoits are burial chambers with massive capstones that are particular to the far west of Cornwall, and they're usually in places of panoramic views – we're dead a long time, so why not rest somewhere with a great view!
One of the best known megalithic structures in Britain, the grand name simply means 'holed stone'. The small site is worth seeking out, perhaps on a circular route to include Ding Dong mine and the Nine Maidens stone circle.
This one's so close to home it's easy to forget. Behind Archavon, and at the true heart of the town is the Plên (The Cornish pronounce it Plain). This medieval amphitheater has been used for public events, in particular staging of the miracle plays. It is considered to by Britain's oldest theatre.
This is a short walk from St Just and will get you onto the barren yet beautiful moor with Carn Kenidjack at the top. There's an alternative telling of the origins of this stone circle on The Cornish Way's blog, look for the March 29th 2016 post entitled The Legend of Archavon.
The benign climate of the far west has enabled some fabulous gardens to be developed. Many are in private hands still, with others managed by the National Trust.
Locally we have:
Further afield look for Trebah, Trelissick and The Lost Gardens of Heligan. There are many others, these are the ones we know and love.