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Carn Marth
A hill in West Cornwall
Carn Marth lies a couple of miles southeast of Redruth and is one of the series of ancient hills that run down the backbone of Cornwall stretching all the way to Lands End. That they have attracted people through the ages is hardly a surprise. From before the Bronze Age they have been natural places of refuge, offering easily defended bases and view points out over what was the densely wooded landscape of prehistoric Britain. In more recent times they have been perfect sites for beacons to warn of impending attack, mark victories and celebrations of all sorts.



The hill can be seen from Bodmin Moor on a clear day, over thirty miles, and of course the reverse is true. One can look back, up to the East past St Agnes Beacon to the hills of the Moor, Rough Tor and Brown Willy, the highest hill in Cornwall at 1375ft, Carn Marth being somewhat less at 771feet. The Celtic Sea and Bristol Channel to the north and the English Channel to the south are both easily seen. Those with keen sight or binoculars will be able to pick out St Anthony’s Light at the entrance to Carrick Roads with Pendennis Castle and Falmouth opposite. Turning further west there is the glint of light on the reservoir at Stithians, then more hills, Carnmenellis and Carn Brea, with views across the Great Flat Lode and its attendant engine houses making such poignant relicts of the great age of mining.



The topmost parts of the Carn are clothed in Lowland Heath, Gorse, Bracken and a generous mixture of wildflowers. As one would expect this makes for an equally rich population of insects and in turn, as one moves up the food chain, there are small mammals, reptiles and amphibians and then birds being among the most visible. Cuckoos, Warblers, Swallows drinking on the wing in the flooded quarries, Buzzards and even Peregrines soar overhead. Lower down there are fields for grazing, their limits marked by Cornish Hedges, some really quite old as their populations of small plants testify. The hill then, already designated ‘of special landscape significance’, is one of the ever scarcer places that are still free of access to all and sundry, a vital ‘lung’ as it were, somewhere one can go to recharge one’s batteries.



No wonder then that a raw and jangling nerve was touched when plans were mooted to reopen a granite quarry high on the Carn and tear one and a quarter million tons off the top, crush it into little bits and spread it on the roads. So it was that the Carn Marth Protection Group was born and with the sterling help and support of hundreds, if not thousands of people, mostly local of course but some from surprisingly far away, saved the hill and secured a portion of the top for the enjoyment of all. This is a story of many individuals scoring a resounding victory over the destructive plans of a business out to make a few pounds at the expense of destroying for ever this invaluable resource.



There are a multitude of reasons why people visit the Carn. Here are just some of them. Walking with or without the dog, a quiet days fishing in the two flooded quarries, bird watching, botanising, kite flying, training for the London Marathon, looking at the 360 degree view, seeking inspiration for drawing, painting, making photographs, an evening at the open air theatre, celebrating midsummer’s day and for the unforgettable solar eclipse over a thousand people made it up there. What ever reason is right for you the result is usually the same, a recharging of ones batteries.




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