Based on a series of novels written by the Cornish author Winston Graham, the intriguing series of Poldark is as much about the spectacular Cornish backdrop as it is a passionate historical drama. Based in 18th century England, the story follows a British Army Officer who returns to Cornwall after the American Revolutionary War only to find that everything has changed…
Though three versions of Poldark have been filmed in breath-taking Cornwall locations, it is the most recent Poldark, with the addition of the dreamy Aidan Turner, that has everybody talking. With three series and a fourth on its way, you will no doubt have already fallen in love with the wild and romantic backdrop of Cornwall, from its sweeping rugged moors to its beautiful stretches of beach and hidden coves.
Read on to find all about the gorgeous locations used during filming and how you can bring a touch of Poldark to your trip to Cornwall!
Bodmin Moor, usually more famous for its mysterious beast, was used to film the exterior shots of Poldark’s cottage, Nampara as well as the miners’ cottages. The isolated farmhouse representing Nampara is located near to the village of St Breward and Dwight Enys’s stone-built cottage and Poldark Way are also situated on the rugged moors. As many of the action scenes are on horseback, Bodmin Moor, with its romantic wild character, was the perfect backdrop for much of the filming and Bodmin Jail was featured in series one as the place where Jim was imprisoned.
Insider gossip: Apparently the miners’ cottages on the moor are part of the real Minions village!
Porthgwarra Cove, St Levan
This pretty little fishing cove with its small secluded beach is just around the corner from the village of Porthcurno, home to the famous cliffside Minack Theatre. Porthgwarra Cove is a maze of caves, tunnels and slipway, evoking fascinating tales of smugglers and pirates. Used for the pilchard scene in the first series, it was also used for Poldark's early skinny-dipping scene where Demelza watches on from the clifftop as well as for Mark’s escape to France in Poldark’s boat.
Insider gossip: Apparently the tiny Porthgwarra Cove Café tempted the cast with their fantastic Cornish Pasties during filming – on one occasion until 4am!
St Agnes Head
Similar to those at Botallack and Levant, the engine houses perched upon the cliff at St Agnes Head really do give us a sense of the scale of the mining industry in Cornwall. St Agnes Head was the area used to represent the Nampara Valley, part of Poldark’s family estate in the series, as well as some of the mine shots.
Charlestown, St. Austell
This gorgeous town has caught the eye of many a location manager, and it was no different for the production team of Poldark. Charlestown is an unspoiled example of a late Georgian working port and is famed for its collection of ships, with the original Grade II listed harbour and its famous tall ships being perfect for Poldark's 18th-century setting. In fact, the town stood in as a replacement for Truro Harbour during filming.
Botallack to Levant
Poldark’s clever location managers couldn’t resist the rich mining heritage of this lovely stretch of coastline along the West Cornwall coast. Interestingly, Levant Mine in Pendeen plays the role of the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill where production teams worked miracles, making it appear like a working mine. Botallack Mine in St Just stars as Poldark’s Wheal Leisure and you can look around West Wheal Owles Engine House to see it in its original form.
Insider gossip: The National Trust have let Poldark fans into a secret – apparently Aidan Turner used the office at Levant to change clothes and shelter from the bad weather!
Poldark Mine, Helston
Though many underground shots were filmed on a built set at Bottle Yard Studios, the interior shots for Wheal Leisure were filmed at Poldark Mine. For a true feel of what it would have been like to work in a Cornish mine, you can take an underground tour at the now defunct mine and see pictures of the cast’s stunt doubles relaxing between takes!
When it was time for some of those major cliff scenes, the action moved over to the Padstow area. Eagle-eyed fans will have recognised the amazing views across the Camel Estuary as well as the golden sands of Tregirls Beach. In scenes featuring the fictional Nampara Cove, you may recognise the wide sandy beach of Porthcothan Bay, and the peninsula of Stepper Point was the location of the dramatic opening scene of series three where Elizabeth was seen struggling with her horse.
Insider gossip: It is said that Poldark’s horse, Seamus, couldn’t gallop fast enough so had various stand-ins. As they didn’t have white socks like Seamus, he had to have black make-up to match them up in post for the scenes!
Church, Dollar and Fisherman’s Coves, Gunwalloe
The sandy beach at Church Cove, Gunwalloe on the Lizard Peninsula, has provided the set for many shoots. The dramatic late-night shipwreck scene involving Poldark and various extras, was shot at Dollar Cove. Adding to the ambience were the real fires and flame torches that had to be lit on the beach as part of this exciting scene.
Though it was actually Corsham in Wiltshire where scenes featuring Truro were filmed, the city itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the Poldark story and was chosen as the location for the world premiere of the first series. We think it deserves a mention!
Insider gossip: With the fourth series around the corner, we have news as to where the crew have been filming! The word on the street is that Charlestown was a definite, and rumour has it that clues of the cast and crew have been found in Holywell Bay and Penberth Cove so keep your eyes peeled this summer!
If you have been truly captivated by Poldark and are thinking of visiting some of these lovely destinations, why not base yourself at one of our cottages in Polruan or our Fowey cottages, perfectly located to explore romantic and intriguing Poldark country.