The Cornwall of Poldark

Poldark's Cornwall

Aidan Thomas is not the only attraction of the BBC tv series ‘Poldark’. The stunning locations are attracting greater numbers of visitors to Cornwall than ever. This summer, the fifth and final series… for now, will be screened. Once again we will see the breathtaking landscapes of Cornwall.

The Poldark books, by Winston Graham, are set in the tin mining communities along the north and west coasts of Cornwall. Many of the locations used in the series are in this part of Cornwall and although fictitious, would be well-known to the tin miners of the period.

Poldark's Cornwall
Wheal Coates close to St Agnes Head

Wheal Coates and St Agnes Head

Above Chapel Porth Beach stands one of Cornwall’s most iconic tin mines, Wheal Coates. Perched on the cliffs the pump house was used to pump water from the Towanroath shaft which went down 200 metres and then out under the sea. North of here is the rugged St Agnes Head where many a scene looking out to sea was filmed. Many a horse-riding scene has been filmed in the land between these two locations.

The historic and well preserved engine houses of Wheal Coates often represented the mines of Nampara Estate which belonged to Ross.

Poldark's Cornwall
Wheal Coates engine house
Poldark's Cornwall
The dramatic Bottalack mine is a location managers dream.

Bottalack and Levant Mines

The stretch of coast between these two mines is rich in Cornish tin mining heritage and a real gift to location managers. The Levant mines, owned by the National Trust, are a treasure trove for those interested in the tin mining heritage of Cornwall. The mine buildings feature in the Poldark series as the Tressider Rolling Mills.

Dramatically perched on rocks looking out on the Atlantic is the Bottalack mine. It would be hard for any location manager to resist the pull of such a stunning setting. With the seas pounding the rocks below the Bottalack mine takes on the role of Ross Poldark’s Wheal Leisure.

Dramatic and inaccessible it may appear to be but there is a well maintained path down to the ruins where visitors can, with care explore the ruins for themselves and imagine the days when they were real working mines.

Poldark's Cornwall
Charlestown Harbour - by Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Charlestown Harbour

The well preserved harbour at Charlestown near St Austell has featured in more than one period production. The Onedin Line was perhaps the most significant until the BBC used it as the port of Truro in the Poldark production. Its Grade II listed harbour is well preserved and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is always at least one and often more tall ships moored alongside the quay that provide even more authenticity for visitors.

In addition to the mines and harbours of Cornwall there are rugged coastlines, hidden coves and sweeping beaches that feature in the series. Some of these are listed below.

Poldark's Cornwall

Porthcurno

At the end of a narrow valley and hemmed in by rugged cliffs this beach with its white sands and clear turquoise blue waters is one of the most stunning beaches in Cornwall. In the series it plays the role of Nampara Cove ‘Ross’s Beach’.

Today the beach is known as place where the telephone and fibre optic cables from the Americas and Africa come ashore. Buried deep in the sands you will not see any sign of them in the filmed scenes nor if you visit the beach. 

Poldark's Cornwall
Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove

Located near the tip of the Lizard Peninsula this is another stunningly beautiful beach that often doubles up as Poldark’s Nampara.

Holywell Bay

This wide expanse of sand between Newquay and Perranporth with the distinctive twin stacks offshore, known as Gull Rocks, features often in the series. It is ideal for horse-riding scenes across the sands and for the encounters between Ross and Demelza and others.

Poldark's Cornwall
Porthgwarra

Porthgwarra

Just a couple of miles from Land’s End is the tiny fishing cove of Porthgwarra. With its clutch of cottages and cobbled slipway it is surprising not more people have discovered it. It is possibly the most filmed of all the beaches featured here. The famous swimming scene where Ross is bathing while Demelza secretly spies on him is perhaps the most memorable.

Poldark's Cornwall
View of Perranporth Beach (aka Hendrawna Sands). This is the view that inspired Winston Graham, author of the Poldark novels

Perranporth

The sweeping sands of the holiday town of Perranporth do not feature in the BBC’s Poldark series… yet. However, they do feature in the Poldark novels but under the fictional name of Hendrawna Sands.

I have included Perranporth because it, or rather the beach, provided some of the inspiration to Winston Graham, the author of the Poldark novels. He moved to Perranporth with his family when he was 17 and spent much of his life there. He began writing the Poldark saga here in the 1940s but sadly all that remains is a memorial stone bench on the headland where he lived.

There are a great number of beaches and coves to be explored in Cornwall and not all of those featured in the Poldark series are mentioned here. Likewise not all of Cornwall’s mining heritage that has featured in the period drama is included.

Cornwall is worth exploring further; there is so much more to discover that the television series has only just begun to uncover.

For more information on Cornwall: www.visitcornwall.com

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