Holmbush Mine

Just under 1½ miles (2.4km)
45 minutes
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An easy and level walk along permissive paths through mixed woodland near Kelly Bray, and a visit to the ruins of Holmbush Mine, at one time the most important mine in the Callington district.


A gentle stroll through the deciduous woodland and conifer plantations of Holmbush Wood, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and sandwiched in a cleft between the A388 and the Stoke Climsland road just north of Kelly Bray. The wood is cross-crossed with tracks and paths, and old field boundaries, and popular with dog walkers. This easy circuit explores the woodland before visiting the impressive remains of Holmbush Mine, which employed 300 people at its peak.

Key facts

Start/Finish Holmbush Wood parking area just under ½ mile (0.8km) north of Kelly Bray, on Stoke Climsland road SX 357721, PL17 8PN

Just under 1½ miles (2.4km)
45 minutes
Holmbush Wood
None on route


Easy woodland paths and tracks

Public Transport

Bus services (to Kelly Bray) to/from Callington, Launceston, Plymouth, Saltash and Tavistock


Under control at all times

Step Image


Step 1

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Walk away from the road to find a field gate and information board, which details the fascinating history of Holmbush Mine. Pass between the two and immediately turn right over a low bank. Turn sharp right; cross the next low bank and turn left.

At the next junction of paths bear right on the broadest path. The path initially passes through mature conifers and parallels the Stoke Climsland road. Reach a path T-junction.

Step 2

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Turn left, flanked by bright rosebay willowherb in summer, and a mix of deciduous saplings – birch, oak, sweet chestnut, sycamore, beech, mountain ash – as well as patches of conifers.

Reach a T-junction in a more open area.

Step 3

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Turn right. The path bears left under tall beech trees on reaching the northern end of the wood, bounded by a hedgebank (there are good views across the fields to Stoke Climsland). At a fork – an old banked track heads straight on – bear left along the northern boundary.

The path is narrow and rough, and passes a bench. Reach a path junction on the edge of a stand of conifers and keep ahead through the trees, passing through a gap in an old field bank, to reach a T-junction.

Step 4

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Turn left (you’ll hear cars hurtling along the A388); keep straight on at a path crossroads, and eventually reach a T-junction.

Step 5

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Turn right on a broad track; before reaching a gate (onto the A388) bear left through a glade of mature beech trees. Pass through a gap in a bank, then bear slightly right, alongside a hedgebank, to reach the old mine buildings on the southern edge of the wood.

Unless you’re walking in winter you won’t see the chimney, or the ruined winding engine house, until you’re just about level with the structures.

Step 6

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Cross a bank by the chimney, then pass the engine house (a little path on the right winds into the interior of the building, accessed via a ladder).

Pick up and follow a narrow path that bears right and threads through the mining site, passing under and between remnants of hard-to-distinguish mine buildings: fenced-off shafts, water wheel and crank pits, a copper crushing house and spoil heaps.

Lead and silver were first mined here in the 17th century; copper ore was produced in the late 18th century and through much of the 19th century. Single specimens of silver lead ore and copper ore, each weighing 1–1½ tons, were exhibited by Holmbush Mine at the Great Exhibition of 1851. Between 1877 and 1886 Holmbush ranked alongside other well-known Tamar Valley mines as a prolific arsenic producer; mining ceased for good in 1923.

The output of the mine was impressive, particularly considering that prior to its establishment of this area was known as Kilbury, and simply a junction of moorland paths. The path winds on, passing a second chimney and the ivy-covered castle-like ruin of Hitchen’s pumping engine house.

Just past the engine house bear left at a junction on a narrow path, overgrown in summer, that leads back to the lower end of the broad beech avenue leading to the mine. Turn right for the car park.