The Great Flat Lode is an enormous ore bearing body south of Carn Brea and near Redruth. It is tilted at an angle of 10 to 45 degrees, and is at a shallower angle than most lodes which are at angles of 60 degrees to 90 degrees. The Great Flat lode is therefore, in relative terms, a lot flatter in the ground.
Between the late 16th century and 1870, mining in the area was for copper overlying the Great Flat Lode. When these became exhausted the mines went deeper to extract the high-grade tin ore.
Today you can explore its history by following the The Great Flat Lode Trail, a circular multi-use trail stretching some 7.5 miles. The area is part of Cornwall's Mining World Heritage Site Bid, and has the highest concentration of historic mining sites anywhere in the world.
A variety of wildlife can be seen along the trail plus old mine buildings, shafts, and spoil tips. In fact the remains of the mines provide shelter for animals including bats, adders, common lizards, slow worms, beetles, butterflies, birds, rabbits and insects. Several rare species of mosses and liverworts can also be found on bare spoil tips, near the trail.
The trail is almost entirely off-road. You can take a detour up onto Carn Brea's Bassett monument which offers views over the surrounding countryside. The trail to the north of Carn Brea has been adopted by the Cornish Way, part of the National Cycle Network. At major mine sites around the trail you'll find information boards.
Mines and Mining In Cornwall