The BBC’s award-winning adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels is a feast of stirring drama, love, loss and redemption. However it’s the stunning Cornish backdrop with its rugged moorlands and jaw-dropping coastline that often steals the show.
If you’ve ever wondered where the wild headlands, secret coves and brooding moorland are filmed and would like to follow in the footsteps of the cast, you’ve come to the right blog. We’ve taken a look at some of the real-life Poldark filming locations that help bring the series to life.
Inspired to take a break? With the filming for series three well underway, we have some lovely holiday cottages nearby sure to get you into the Poldark mood…
Kynance Cove, The Lizard
With its pure white sand, turquoise waters and serpentine rock-towers, Kynance Cove on the west coast of the Lizard Peninsula makes the perfect setting for Poldark. One of Cornwall’s most famous beaches, it is set to impress on screen when it doubles up as Ross’s beloved Nampara Cove. At low tide there are sea caves and islands to explore. Just up the coast at Predannack Wollas are the gorse-capped clifftops used in some of Poldark’s many galloping-along-cliffs scenes in series two.
Gunwalloe, The Lizard
Three coves at Gunwalloe have been used in Poldark filming: Church Cove, Dollar Cove and Fisherman’s Cove.
Church and Dollar Coves were used in series one for a gripping shipwreck scene, filmed during the early hours of the morning. No stranger to coastal crimes, Dollar Cove has in fact been the site of many famous shipwrecks in real life when fires were lit on the beach to lure ships in against the rocks. It is named after the Spanish ship San Salvador which was wrecked here in 1669, losing its cargo of silver dollars. Rumour has it coins still occasionally wash up on the beach after storms, so keep an eye out when you visit! Church Cove is particularly special owing to the beautiful tiny church of St Winwaloe, known as The Church of the Storms, that sits at the bottom of the cliffs, overlooking the beach – well worth a photo. Ramble along the beach, explore the rockpools and enjoy the coastal walk to the recently restored engine houses at Rinsey.
In series two, the exterior of the stunning clifftop cottage of Dr Dwight Enys is filmed at the more northerly Fisherman’s Cove using what was until quite recently a ruined shell. Follow the lane opposite the Halzephron pub to find it.
Poldark Mine, near Helston
Although it opened after the era of Poldark’s character, the narrow corridors of this tin mine are the perfect location for the underground mining sequences and a number of the museum’s artefacts were also used as props. The only complete mine currently open to the public, take an underground tour to discover more about the conditions the miners worked in during the 18th and early 19th centuries, the time in which the Poldark novels were set.
Charlestown, near St Austell
Charlestown near St Austell, famed for its collection of ships and traditional appearance, is no stranger to film crews; Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the Three Musketeers and an episode of Dr Who have been filmed here, to name but a few. In Poldark, it is the perfect choice for the story’s mining port. As you wander around the narrow streets and original Grade II Listed harbour, complete with Tall Ships, you can almost imagine you’ve been cast as an extra or been transported back in time to Graham Winston’s 18th century setting.
Bodmin Moor & St Breward
The cast and crew found themselves on brooding Bodmin Moor for a large part of their time in Cornwall. The rugged moorland and wild scenery provides the perfect backdrop to Poldark’s plot of passion and family drama. Home to some of Cornwall’s richest mining landscapes, locations include: the tenants’ and miners’ cottages at Minions Heritage Centre; the exterior of Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, at the privately owned Ivey Farm (approximately 2 miles east of St Breward); Dwight Enys’s Cottage; and many scenes capturing the cast on horseback. Perhaps the most memorable scene filmed on the moor was the duel between Francis and Captain Blarney (series one), when the sun appeared right on cue with dramatic timing. The moor is easily accessible; explore the fragile ruins of the 19th century copper mine on Caradon Hill and follow the many walking routes to take in some of the best sites, such as Rough Tor, Minions or Brown Willy – the highest point in the whole county.
The little village of St Breward, nestled into the moor, boasts the highest church in Cornwall at 700ft. At the foot of the moors, Bodmin itself is home to Bodmin Jail where Jim was imprisoned in series one. The jail housed prisoners for nearly 150 years until 1927 and is now a visitor attraction, open for tours, ghost walks and even weddings.
Porthcurno Beach & Penberth Cove, West Cornwall
With its gorgeous powdery white sand washed by turquoise waters and framed by rugged cliffs, it’s easy to see why Porthcurno was chosen to play Nampara Cove in series two. In a dream sequence, Demelza and Ross find themselves walking along Porthcurno beach in the sun. What viewers don’t see is the world-famous Minack Theatre perched on the cliff above, a 1930s open-air theatre where plays and operas are performed every summer, with a backdrop of Treryn Dinas, an Iron Age cliff castle.
Almost the next cove eastwards, less than 2 miles away, is the picturesque fishing hamlet of Penberth which also has a cameo in series two. This is where the patients of Dr Enys live and is immediately recognisable by the quaint stepping stones that characters use to cross the stream. No wonder it’s rumoured to feature in the upcoming series. Watch this space!
Porthgwarra, West Cornwall
This stunning little cove with crystal clear waters has been used in various fishing scenes, including the pilchard scene and Mark’s escape to France in Ross’s boat. Once a thriving fishing cove, it now boasts a peaceful existence surrounded by wildflowers and birdlife. Stop in the Porthgwarra Cove Cafe (seasonal) which refuelled the cast and crew during filming. The beach is only revealed at low tide and access is via a steep slipway or through a tunnel cut into the cliff by 18th century miners and once used to store shellfish. Lying on Cornwall’s romantic west coast where the South West Coast Path offers unsurpassed views.
Gwennap Head, West Cornwall
Just over from Porthgwarra and Porthcurno sits Gwennap Head, an impressive headland with panoramic vistas across the Penwith peninsula. With craggy rock formations in the distance and crystal clear waters below, Gwennap Head offers truly breathtaking views and provided the dramatic backdrop to some of the shots in series two.
Botallack to Levant, West Cornwall
The fortunes of mining, with its lucky strikes, booms and busts, is a major theme in Poldark. Location managers couldn’t resist the iconic engine houses along this stretch of west Cornwall’s coast from Botallack (just north of St Just) to Levant to portray some of the mining infrastructure in both series. Levant Mine with its tall engine house plays the role of the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill while Wheal Owles and Wheal Crowns near Botallack starred as Wheal Leisure and Grambler.
Levant Mine is a star turn in the Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site. It’s the only Cornish beam engine anywhere in the world that is restored to working order on its original site (regular steam days display the engine in action). If you want to walk this section of the coastline, the South West Coast Path has a spectacular three-mile walking route which takes in all the sites. Nearby Geevor Mine is well worth a visit too. Now a visitor centre, the mine features the fascinating Hard Rock Museum and underground tours are led by former miners.
St Agnes Head, North Cornwall
Another area that has enjoyed a taste of Hollywood is St Agnes Head on the north coast of Cornwall. Here iconic engine houses standing majestically on the cliff tops give a sense of the scale of the region’s tin and copper mining past. A natural location choice, St Agnes Head also doubles up as Nampara Valley, part of the Poldark family estate. This is a stunning part of the north coast and a great walking spot along the Coast Path where the yellow and purple heathland carpet rewards hikers with far reaching views of the spectacular beach at Chapel Porth, Trevaunance Cove and Wheal Coates old mine works. Many of the characters’ famous gallops along the rugged Cornish clifftops were filmed on the cliffs of Chapel Porth.
Holywell Bay, North Cornwall
This huge beach of golden sand backed by grass tufted dunes is a perfect example of the north coast’s wide open bays. Part of the estate owned by Ross’s rivals, the Warleggans, Holywell Bay and the iconic Gull Rocks provide a dramatic backdrop to the show’s action in series two.
Padstow area, North Cornwall
The spectacular coastline surrounding Padstow proved perfect for Poldark’s breathtaking clifftop scenes, with some of the region’s best loved landscapes on display. The picture-perfect wide sandy beach of Porthcothan near Newquay is used to portray Nampara Cove. The popular scene in series one featuring Ross taking a swim in the crystal clear water while watched from the cliff tops by Demelza was filmed here.
Nearby the cliff tops at Park Head (National Trust) offer stunning views across to the towering sea stacks across Bedruthan Beach and Bedruthan Steps. Scenes feature Ross on horseback galloping across this very headland in series two. Lovers of north Cornwall will recognise Levlizzick and the spectacular views across the Camel Estuary and Tregirls beach. For windswept, sea air strolls, there’s no better place.
Whilst Truro itself wasn’t used as a filming location in the Poldark series, it was author Winston Graham’s inspiration for the original novels back in 1945 and it was here that the world premiere of the series took place. The city itself is steeped in history with a beautiful cathedral containing the largest stain glass project in the world, the fascinating Royal Cornwall Museum, and many stunning open spaces and parks. It’s also hailed as one of the best examples of Georgian architecture west of Bath.
Book a cottage break in Poldark Country
If you’ve been inspired to visit these Poldark filming locations, why not book one of our fantastic holiday cottages in Cornwall and experience Poldark Country for yourself? All the Poldark locations are easy day trips from Trevarno Barn and our cottages at the Bonython Estate situated on the pretty Lizard Peninsula. The closest, just a mile from Bonython, is Church Cove, Gunwalloe, next to Dollar Cove. Or if you want to visit beautiful Bodmin Moor, why not stay at Looe Island View?
T’is right, t’is fair, t’is fit, t’is proper to also publish a blog on Poldark locations outside of Cornwall, so watch this space!