Although Aidan Turner may melt hearts with his portrayal of Captain Ross Poldark. There’s something even more appealing that catches the eye of those who watch the popular BBC drama TV series Poldark, Cornwall.
The 18th century period drama is based on Poldark, a novel by Winston Graham. It tells the story of Captain Poldark. Returning from the American Revolutionary War he discovers his life has been thrown into confusion. Everything and everyone he loved has been lost, so Poldark must start again amongst the Cornish countryside.
While the acting and the story are excellent. It’s the stunning countryside of Cornwall that steals the show. Filmed throughout the South West but mainly on location in Cornwall. Poldark highlights the beauty of the area. It shows the historical ruins and old buildings that are scattered across Cornwall.
Several Cornish locations have been used to film Poldark and are on grand display throughout the series. Here you can find out a bit more about some of the individual places and how they were used.
Charlestown near St Austell, famed for its collection of tall ships and traditional appearance, has long caught the attention of location managers. As well as standing in for Poldark’s Truro, it also plays Falmouth, were Captain Andrew Blamey lives and sails from. Unfortunately, his apparent Falmouth abode overlooks Charlestown’s inner harbor, and it is from here that Verity Poldark flees with him to the disapproval of her family. Charlestown beach and slipway also doubles as St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly in the scenes that see Ross meet up with the exiled Mark Daniels in series two.
This harbor is immersed in history and still holds several classic ships that demonstrate how ships once looked. Many other films and TV shows have been filmed here. Using the harbor and the ships, including Dr Who, the latest Alice in Wonderland film, and Poldark. It is still a working port and is a fascinating place to visit.
Turnaware Point on the beautiful Roseland side of the River Fal is famous for its association with the D-Day landings. Fans may recognize it from season three. When the location was used as the landing spot for Ross’ rowing boat, he travels to France on an ill-fated mission to rescue his friend, Dr. Dwight Enys, from a French Prison.
It is perhaps a little ironic that Turnaware Point was used to represent France. It was previously best known as one of the secret embarkation points for the D-Day landings in Normandy.
This area, known as the Roseland, is strikingly different in terms of scenery from the rest of Cornwall. Perhaps this is why it was chosen to represent another country.
The unwelcoming beauty of Bodmin Moor is Cornwall’s true wilderness. It is one of the few places that even in the middle of summer you can get away from it all. The expanse of moorland with its rocky peaks punctuated by the occasional village consisting of a group of built cottages. One of those cottages was used in St Breward for filming exterior shots of the Poldark family home, Nampara.
Travel through this landscape where St Breward doubles as Poldark’s home, Nampara. Bodmin Moor set the scene for a classic duel, and many of the cast have been spotted galloping on horseback through this wild area.
The village of Minions on the southern side of the moor was also used in several scenes in season 1. The rugged moorland here which is well-known for its stunning rock formations and stone circles features in a number of horseback scenes between Trenwith and Nampara. Minions are also the location of several miner’s cottages, such as the one gifted to Jim and Jinny Carter by ross.
Bodmin Moor provides the perfect backdrop to Poldark’s passion and family dramatics plot with a rugged character and wild streak.
Built in 1778, the grim and imposing building served as a jail until 1927. During this time, it was the site of a significant number of executions, which led to the prison becoming known as Cornwall’s most haunted place.
It seems fitting that Bodmin Jail was used for filming the incarceration of Jim Carter in season 1. Ross’s farmhand is thrown into jail when he is caught poaching, but the conditions here are so bad that he dies soon afterward.
The jail is currently open to the public as a museum where you can view recreations of prison life and see the “execution pit” where prisoners were hung. There are also several ghost tours of the prison. In addition, there is talk of developing the prison building into a luxury hotel, although plans include preserving the museum.
St. Agnes Head and Chapel Porth
St Agnes Head, where iconic engine houses perch serenely on the clifftops, offering a silent reminder of Cornwall’s mining heyday, provides a natural location choice for Poldark. Also doubling as Nampara Valley, it featured as the narrative and literal cliffhanger to the first two seasons.
Many of Poldark’s famous gallops along the rugged Cornish clifftops were filmed on the cliffs of Chapel Porth. From here, you get panoramic views of yellow gorse, purple heather and miles of ocean. Beneath the gorse and heather, the slopes are littered with mine shafts, wheel pits, spoil heaps, and dressing floors’ ruins. The cliffs are the home to one of Cornwall’s best-known old mining engine houses – Wheal Coates – which was a well-known view long before the latest Poldark adaptation. Paths on either side of the beach reveal the dramatic ruins of Wheal Coates and Charlotte United Engine House.
The high cliff tops and heathland of St Agnes Head, with its patchwork of gorse and heather, doubled up as Nampara Valley, part of the Poldark family estate. It’s a great walking spot. With far-reaching views of Chapel Porth beach, Trevaunance Cove, and Wheal Coates old mine works, which remind the region’s tin and copper mining past.
This huge beach of golden sand backed by grass-tufted dunes is a perfect example of the north coast’s wide open bays. With its iconic twin-peaked Gull Rock just offshore, it has been used for many encounters between Ross, Demelza and sworn enemy George Warleggan and the challenging horse races between Dwight and Caroline.
Only a stone’s throw from the popular seaside towns of Perranporth and Newquay, Holywell is the largest bay on this stretch of coast. The famous twin offshore islands of Carter’s and Gulls Rocks provide a dramatic backdrop to the show’s action.
The cliff tops at Park Head near Porthcothan on the north coast offer stunning views across the towering sea stacks at Bedruthan Steps. From here, you can see sea stacks stretching across Bedruthan beach, the sheltered Porth Mear cove, and Bedruthan Steps. They’re one of the locations used for scenes of Ross galloping on horseback while the neighboring beaches of Porthcothan and Hendrawna star as part of Nampara.
Porthcothan beach near Newquay is a northwest-facing cove backed by grassy hills and was used as Nampara land along with shots of Hendrawna Beach. It was used as a location in the first two seasons as the Poldark family-owned “Nampara Cove”.
Here we see Ross galloping across the sands of Porthcothan and neighboring Hendrawna on horseback. A few swimming scenes were also shot at the southern end of the beach. They were shot, where a natural lagoon is formed in the shelter of the Trescore Islands.
Fans of north Cornwall will recognize Levlizzick and the spectacular views across the Camel Estuary and Tregirls beach. For some of the cliff scenes, the filming action moved to the Padstow area.
A few miles north of Padstow, Stepper Point stands guard to the mouth of the Camel Estuary with a small granite tower acting as a daymark to boats. This was used as the backdrop to a scene involving horse-drawn carriages racing across the clifftop. In the background was the mouth of the estuary and beaches beyond.
Botallack is home to what is perhaps the most iconic of Cornish engine houses, The Crowns. Perched at the bottom of rugged cliffs, barely above the sea, sit a pair of granite engine houses. It’s located at a dangerous position, because the mine shaft goes from here and over a mile out under the often turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
The abandoned buildings at Botallack provide the perfect stand-in for the Poldark family mines of Wheal Leisure (in reality Wheal Owles) and Grambler (Wheal Crowns). The buildings give a fascinating insight into Cornish mining history. There were over 100 engine houses in the St Just district during the 19th century and earlier. But in 1895, the entire mine at Botallack closed due to rapidly falling copper and tin prices.
Levant Mine is part of Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site. It’s the only Cornish beam engine anywhere in the world still in steam on its original site. A group of volunteers known as the ‘Greasy Gang’ restored it after 60 years out of use.
Levant Mine doubles up as Tressiders Rolling Mill in Poldark. A scene in the second season was shot here involving Ross and Francis Poldark discussing whether the engine lived up to its inventor’s claims.
Penberth lies in a hidden valley between Lamorna and Porthcurno. The rural tiny fishing village with granite cottages, cobbled slipway, and working capstan.
Penberth Cove has become Sawle village in Poldark, home to Demelza’s two brothers, Sam and Drake Carne. As such, it has featured in many scenes involving Demelza and Doctor Enys.
Once a thriving fishing cove, the beautiful Porthgwarra sits at the heart of St Aubyn Estates and boasts a peaceful existence surrounded by wildflowers and birdlife. The memorable scene in season one with Ross taking a swim in the crystal clear water while watching from the cliff tops by Demelza was filmed here. As well as the pilchard fishing scene. Porthgwarra is also home to the tunnel where Ross kept his boat which Mark Daniels used to escape capture for the accidental killing of his wife, Keren.
Porthgwarra is a relatively small and unknown cove. It has a tiny beach that reveals itself only when the tide is lo And a cave running through a section of the cliff. Visitors are attracted to the cove because it is said to have crystal clear waters, and a little beach café provides amazing views. The area is a must-visit for walkers, explorers, and nature lovers who wish to visit somewhere quieter.
Porthcurno and Pedn Vounder
Porthcurno beach has long been one of the most photographed spots on the Cornish coast. With its crystal clear turquoise waters, near white sand and rugged cliffs, it isn’t hard to see why.
In season 1 of Poldark Porthcurno and neighboring Pedn Vounder beach featured as the fictional “Nampara Cove.” With gorgeous fine soft white sand washed by a sea that turns turquoise in the sun and high cliffs on both sides providing shelter, it’s an oasis of stunning natural beauty. Most notable of a scene where Ross and Demelza walk across the beach towards the cliffs of Treryn Dinas.
Unfortunately, these two beaches (which are joined at low tide) seem to have become something of a victim of their success. In fact, in the summer of 2018, the Cornish tourist board took the step of claiming they weren’t promoting this location anymore as it had reached saturation point. Also, some visitors dared to complain about the nudists on Pedn Vounder, which was there longer than Poldark was filmed.
Between Land’s End and Porthgwarra sits Gwennap Head, a dramatic headland popular with rock climbers. With lighthouses in the distance and crystal clear waters below, Gwennap Head offers truly breathtaking views. It is a favorite spot for clifftop riding, chance encounters, and long lingering looks.
For this reason, the headland is now the site of a Coastguard lookout, along with a pair of curious-looking daymarks that resemble modern art installations.
Gwennap Head is an excellent location for dramatic backdrops. In the Poldark you can see Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, dry off from his skinny-dipping and jump on the back of his horse.
Located near the southern tip of Cornwall at the Lizard Point is the spectacular Kynance Cove. The cove here is both beautiful and instantly recognizable with its rock formations. The towers of serpent rise out of the near-white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters to form one of the most iconic locations in Cornwall.
This is one of Cornwall’s most famous beaches. So, it is natural in front of the camera and provides long panning aerial shots, including clifftop riding scenes and the opening sequence of season two. It appears in the series as Nampara Cove. A few notable scenes are filmed here, including Demelza and Ross landing their fishing boat in rough seas. The clifftops were also used in the scene involving Ross being marched to jail in Truro in season 2.
However, like the equally stunning Porthcurno, Kynance also suffered from the “Poldark effect.” The cove became so overrun during the summer of 2018 that the tourist board took the unprecedented step of asking Poldark fans to stay away.
This location was frequently used throughout the Poldark series. It is well known for its history of shipwrecks. Close by is Dollar Cove, named after the Spanish ship San Salvador. It was wrecked there in 1669 and lost its cargo of silver dollars. People say coins still occasionally wash up on the beach after storms, so keep an eye out when you visit.
In season 2 of Poldark, there is plenty of action at Dollar Cove, with smugglers stopped by the Customs officers and soldiers. So it’s fit that Poldark’s dramatic wreck scene was filmed here.
This is a lovely stretch of coast, with views over Mount’s Bay and Mullion Island. The exposed clifftop heathland is punctuated with rocky outcrops and patches of wildflowers. Predannack Wollas was the dramatic setting of many of Poldark’s charges on horseback. The windswept headland and cliffs have been kept wild thanks to nature-friendly farming. The careful grazing by native breeds keeps the scrub and bramble under control. But it also creates perfect conditions for delicate flora and fauna like the upright and twin-headed clovers.
Poldark Mine has long been part of the Cornish tourist trail. Located just outside Helston, it was originally named Wendron Forge when it opened in 1972 and was run as a mining museum/gardens. At the time, the owners had no idea that there was a mine on the site.
It was more or less by accident that the long-forgotten 18th-century Wheal Roots were discovered a few years later. After much work to make the mine safe, some underground areas were opened up to the public. Peter Young sought permission from Winston Graham to name the mine Poldark, which become a hit TV series.
The mine’s links with Poldark grew from here. It was used for some of the underground sequences of the 1977 series of Poldark. Winston Graham launched some of the Poldark books at Poldark Mine, including the final novel in 2002, not long before his death in 2003. There is also a memorial to Angharad Rees here; she starred as Demelza in the original series and was a regular visitor to the park. The latest adaptation of Poldark has also used Poldark Mine as a location for underground scenes.
The real star of the show and novels is Cornwall. Shimmering blue waters, white sandy beaches, lush countryside and rugged cliffs. This spectacular part of England plays the lead role in the story.
When in Cornwall, visit these locations for a deeper understanding of the history and beauty of the county. Because without it, Poldark would not have been possible. Much of the action in Poldark takes place outdoors, against the backdrop of Cornwall’s breathtaking and rugged coastline.
The BBC’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s much-loved Poldark novels features many beautiful places in Cornwall. You can visit them yourself and see how they inspired the production team on the award-winning TV series.