Based on a series of novels written by former Cornish resident Winston Graham, Poldark’s stunning scenery almost upstages lovely leading man Aidan Turner.
“I felt there was no way we could film it anywhere other than Cornwall,” says producer Karen Thrussell. “Cornwall is like its own character,” she explains, “I think Ross’s character is based on the Cornish landscape.”
Series director Ed Bazalgette guides us around the key locations in the series…
Botallack to Levent Coastal Path
Between the town of St Just in Penwith and the village of Pendeen, Botallack Mine doubles for Ross Poldark’s mine in the BBC series. Spectacularly situated on the side of a cliff edge overlooking the sea, these engine houses were built during the mid-1800s at the height of the Cornish mining boom. “We filmed in some of the most iconic mining locations and breathtaking landscapes in Cornwall,” explains series director Ed Bazalgette. Botallack mine sits next to Wheal Crowns, and the UNESCO protected site can been seen on a coastal walk along the cliff edge. “Wheal Crowns perches perilously close to a precipice,” says Bazalgette. “In one image we were able to capture the jeopardy and danger the characters in Poldark faced throughout their lives.”
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In the coastal area of St Levan, Ross takes his morning swim as his maid Demelza spies on him. “It’s a tiny unspoilt cove located close to Nampara, where Ross’s house is, in our vision of Poldark country,” explains Bazalgette. Later in the series Ross helps someone avoid arrest from Porthgwarra, and organises their escape from here. This is also where crew filmed the landing of a pilchard catch, once vital to the local economy and Cornish diet. There’s a small café very near the cove; open in the summer, it’s a cute little spot to soak in the atmosphere.
St Agnes Head
Doubling for the Nampara Valley in the series, the area off Beacon Drive is also used in the finale of the show. This area is “the emotional heart of Poldark,” explains Bazalgette. “Winston Graham lived and wrote close by at Perranporth. Walk out from the car park and head for the coastguards lookout, then walk west towards Wheal Coates, one of the most photographed spots in Cornwall, it’s blissful.”
Standing in for the city of Truro in the Poldark series, Charlestown, near St Austell’s original Grade II listed harbour has original tall ships and is used in fishmonger and fishing scenes in episode two.
Church Cove, Gunwalloe
One of the most dramatic scenes of the series takes place on this pretty family beach, favoured by watersports enthusiasts. Here, we’ll witness a shipwreck scene with dozens of extras and fires all over the beach.
Wild open moorlands, near The Hurlers in Minnions, double for the rugged lands between Ross and Francis’ estates. We see the characters riding horses around this area and near the beginning of episode one when Ross Poldark is stunned by the news of his father’s death. “There are few spots as isolated as the old track crossroads at Minions,” explains Bazalgette. “If you want to get away from everything and everyone, it’s the perfect place to head for.”
This article was first published in 2015. Photos courtesy of BBC pictures and Kingsley Hoskins
Our guide to the upcountry locations in Poldark, from Frome to Berkeley Castle
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