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A peaceful valley with an explosive secret

tooltipOther recommended walk

Discover the hidden stories of Kennall Vale Nature Reserve in Cornwall

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As you walk through the Kennall Vale Nature Reserve, the sounds you’re most likely to hear are rushing water, rustling leaves and the songs of woodland birds.

But this peaceful ambience belies the valley ’s past. From 1812 to 1910 it was the site of the Kennall Gunpowder Company.

The company’s mills harnessed the power of the fast-flowing River Kennall to grind and combine the ingredients into an explosive mixture. The air would have been filled with the sounds of industry and workers – and, indeed, the occasional terrible explosion. 

At its height, the works was the most successful of its kind in Cornwall. It supplied gunpowder for the mines and quarries in the thriving Gwennap mining district, but also exported worldwide. Find out about the gunpowder manufacturing process from the mixing of raw ingredients right through to its final packing.

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We recommend this audio trail developed by the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site

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Walk Info

Distance:

½ mile

Level:
The trail involves some narrow, steep paths that might be slippery in wet conditions

tooltipThe trail involves some narrow, steep paths that might be slippery in wet conditions

Suitable for:
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Region:
South West England
Setting:
Countryside
Landscape:
Historic landscapes Exploiting the landscape
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Start:
Kennall Vale Nature Reserve entrance, Ponsanooth
Finish:
Kennall Vale Nature Reserve entrance, Ponsanooth
Getting there:

tooltipNearest stations Perranwell (2 ½ miles), Penryn (2 ¾ miles), Redruth (5 miles)

tooltipLocal buses to Ponsanooth: Number 88 or 500 from Truro or Number 41 from Rudruth

tooltipIn Ponsanooth off the A393 between Redruth and Falmouth; parking close to the start point is very limited

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Kennall Vale

Millstone in Kennall Vale
© Audio Trails / Cornwall County Council

Kennall Vale

Ruins of gunpowder mill
© Audio Trails / Cornwall County Council