A gunpowder plot
A granite quarry provided the much-needed building material to create the gunpowder mills at Kennall Vale near Ponsanooth. The area has a more tranquil role now – as a 20-acre nature reserve managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
The Kennall Vale Gunpowder Company was established in the early 19th century to serve the mining industry, with the fast-flowing River Kennall driving the giant water wheels that powered the mills. The business was very active for nearly 70 years, but demand reduced and it eventually closed in 1910 with the site becoming a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1999.
Today you can explore the wooded slopes, rich undergrowth among the beech trees full of mosses and ferns and open glades and admire the man-made leats which carried the water.
Parking is limited close to the entrance to Kennall Vale which is just off the A393 at Ponsanooth.
There’s plenty of wildlife here and the sound of birdsong in the woods is almost deafening. But climb to the water-filled granite quarry and you will find peace and tranquillity.
You can still see some of the machinery from the glory days of the gunpowder mills – giant iron cogs which drove the water mills.