The BBC’s eagerly awaited remake of Poldark has a new generation of fans swooning over Cornwall’s sweeping landscapes (not to mention the rugged good looks of the eponymous leading man). Here, Alex Williams suggests set-jetting to Poldark’s hauntingly beautiful filming locations in the South West of England on a romantic break.
Walk in the footsteps of Poldark...
Bodmin Moor in Cornwall
Set in the 1780s, Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark, a noble but reckless Cornish man who returns home after fighting in the American Revolution. Having been gone – and presumed dead – for three years, he finds himself heir to his father’s ruined estate and his former sweetheart engaged to his cousin. Refusing to fly in the face of adversity, he decides to stay and fight for survival amidst Cornwall’s rapidly ailing tin-mining industry.
The series was filmed in various locations across Cornwall. Poldark’s cottage, for example, was filmed on Bodmin Moor, along with copious shots of the actor darkly brooding whilst strutting on horseback. Hallegena’s newly launched Poldark Trail offers a two or four-hour trek navigating the moor’s rugged wilds where you’ll see Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest point, and numerous ancient settlements.
After a relaxing day’s ride, it’s time to submerge yourself in the bubbling warmth of your own private hot tub at the Retallack Resort and Spa, near Padstow, where the cast stayed during filming. Having woken up rested from a comfortable night’s sleep in your luxury lakeside lodge, head to Cornwall’s western tip where, nestled in the cliffs overlooking the sea, you’ll find Levant Mine. Part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, it stars in the series as Tressiders Rolling Mill and is the proud home of Cornwall’s only original working beam engine. From here it’s just a mile’s walk to the precariously perched Botallack Mine, which doubles up as Wheal Leisure, the failed family tin mine Poldark promises to resurrect.
Wheal Coates Tin Mine in Cornwall
If you’ve packed your sea legs, you might fancy joining Koru Kayaking on their two-hour North Coast Kayak Adventure around St. Agnes Head, whose northern stretch of the Cornish coast was used to represent Nampara Valley, part of the Poldark family estate. As you explore the head’s narrow archways and techni-coloured caves, you’ll see deep mineshafts cut into the cliffs, along with the scattered remains of engine houses above. These are ghostly remnants of Cornwall’s former tin, copper and arsenic industry, which Koru’s expert guides, Tom and Hetty (also massive Poldark fans), will be only too happy to tell you about.
Poldark was also shot in other locations in the south west of England, including Corsham in Wiltshire, whose town hall and high street doubles for Truro. It’s depicted on screen as a bustling market town but in reality it’s a quaint, quiet place, where the locals are friendly, peacocks are trusted to roam the streets and old-fashioned shop fronts stacked with curiosities tempt you to pop inside.
Meanwhile, Chavenage House, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, appears as Trenwith, the Poldark family’s ancient family seat. Set in rolling countryside and without a trace of modernity in sight, this handsome grey-stone Elizabethan manor house opens to the public on May 1.
More set-jetting in the south west...
West Dorset’s timeless countryside forms the backdrop for this year’s new cinematic adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far from the Madding Crowd. The film, due to be released on May 1, follows the complicated love life of Bathsheba Everdene (played by Carey Mulligan) who, after inheriting a farm, is torn between three different but equally ardent suitors. A Hardy Trail guides visitors to some of the film’s starring locations – including Mapperton House and Sherborne Abbey – as well as the places where Hardy lived, wrote and was inspired.
Also in Dorset, though set on the coast, fans of ITV’s hit crime drama Broadchurch will find themselves experiencing a bout of déjà vu at Bridport’s West Bay, whose towering Jurassic Coast cliffs and gold sand beaches are set to star again in the show’s upcoming third series. Download Visit Dorset’s Broadchurch Trail to follow in the footsteps of super sleuths Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller as you climb 80ft-high to the top of the iconic West Cliff.
Meanwhile, the cobbled streets of Wiltshire’s ancient village of Lacock recently played host to the cast of ITV’s period drama hit Downton Abbey, who turned up to film scenes from the show’s hotly-anticipated sixth and last series. Worth a visit in the area is Lacock Abbey (which also appeared in BBC’s Wolf Hall) for its medieval rooms and 700-year-old cloisters.
Trinity Lane in Cambridge
Carnforth Railway Station in Lancashire stood in for Milford Junction in David Lean’s classic romance Brief Encounter. Recreate scenes from Laura and Alec’s ill-fated love affair by running hand-in-hand through the subway and posing on the platform beneath the famous clock. Check out the heritage centre where the film is played on loop (bring your tissues!) before heading to the restored 1940s refreshment room for a cuppa and delicious toasted teacakes.
Much of The Theory of Everything, the film biopic of the life of the English physicist Stephen Hawking, was filmed at Cambridge University, where Hawking studied at Trinity Hall and met his first wife at the college’s opulent May Ball. St John’s College was used as double for this location and offers guided tours of its grand interiors and ‘wedding cake’ hall.
Cinderella, sees the wasp-waisted Lily James knock the socks off her Prince Charming in Disney’s live action adaptation of Charles Perrault’s classic fairytale. You too can follow in her glass-slippered footsteps at filming locations like Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace, Black Park in Iver Heath and the Old Royal Naval College, all within striking distance of London.