Built in 1836, this 90-foot-high granite column was our tribute to Francis Basset, philanthropist and member of the most important mining family in the area. Basset was well known for looking after his workers, and did much to improve their lives. He was made Baron de Dunstanville in 1779 after marching his miners from Camborne to Plymouth to shore up the city’s defences against the invading French and Spanish fleets.
Just along the ridge you’ll see Carn Brea Castle, sitting on huge, uncut boulders. The Basset family turned the building into a hunting lodge in the mid 1700s, but its origins go back to the 14th century where it started life as a humble chapel to St Michael – one of Cornwall’s patron saints.
But looking up at Carn Brea is nothing compared to the view from the top. On a really clear day you can see both coasts – and almost everything in between. If you’ve head for heights, the viewing platform at the top of the monument is more spectacular still. It’s dark inside though, so be careful on the stairs.
The slopes of the carn have their own story to tell. 6,000 years ago, granite walls and ramparts once circled the tors, and the remains are there to this day… along with the sites of Roman and Bronze Age artefacts, Iron Age roundhouses and – legend has it — the petrified bones of the Giant of Carn Brea, John of Gaunt.
You can reach Carn Brea easily from Camborne on bike or by foot – or even on horseback if you prefer – simply follow the Great Flat Lode Trail. There’s a car park near the top, too, but driving there is a little trickier: look for the track from the village of Carnkie (be careful, there are two Carnkie villages). It’s signposted, but the road up the carn can get bumpy, so drive slowly.