The amazing, wonderful, toxic Bissoe Valley, Cornwall. It’s where we take our kids to go wild and get arsenic under their fingernails.
The works at Bissoe once produced the finest arsenic and copper, with scores of mines clustered around the heavy metal rich seams of the valley. The river that runs down to the estuary at Devoran is stained red. Apparently after Wheal Jane was flooded in the early nineties toxic mine waste was leached into the water. The valley is now a nature reserve and as you head towards the estuary the land looks progressively bleaker, evidence that mines were closed in succession. It look like the most recent closures were closest to the valley mouth, where only the toughest heathers attempt a paltry existence.