Series one of Poldark had viewers swooning, and not only because of the leading man. Another of the undisputed stars of the show was the Cornish coast, its cliffs and coves bathed in cloudless sunshine.
The weather isn’t as Californian in series two, which was filmed in autumn, but the views are just as breathtaking, with some new settings to set hearts racing.
Location manager David Johnson reveals three beautiful beaches making their Poldark debut…
Demelza’s dream beach
In episode two, look out for the craggy rocks, white sand and turquoise water of Porthcurno Beach, which is way down on the westernmost foot of Cornwall, south of Land’s End. “Demelza [Eleanor Tomlinson] and Ross [Turner] are walking along a beach in a dream sequence,” explains Johnson. “That was one of those perfect days where it was glorious sunshine. It’s small but very, very pretty.”
What viewers won’t see is the world-famous Minack Theatre perched on the cliff above, a 1930s open-air theatre (in Cornish “minack” means “rocky place”). Every summer, plays and operas are performed and the backdrop is a staggering vista of the Atlantic and Treryn Dinas, an Iron Age cliff castle.
A mile and a half along the South West Coast Path is Porthgwarra, Britain’s most south-westerly cove, where Ross liked to bathe in series one. Above are the cliffs of Gwennap Head, which also boasts a spectacular vista seen in series two. “We got wonderful shots of the sea and sky. Those scenes are usually characters meeting and talking, or smugglers returning from the beach to their village.”
If you walk a mile or so north from Porthcurno Beach instead, the cliff path takes you to Penberth, an even tinier cove, which also has a cameo in series two and is home to a picturesque fishing hamlet.
The Poldarks’ beach
On the west side of the Lizard Peninsula is a cove with even more dramatic rock formations. “In my opinion Kynance Cove is one of the prettiest beaches in Cornwall,” says Johnson. “It’s got dark red and green rocks unique to Cornwall and stunning against the white sand.”
Reaching it involves a steep, 15-minute scramble down a footpath but the effort is amply rewarded. At low tide you can explore the rock stacks and caves, which have curious names like The Parlour and The Drawing Room. There’s also an eco-friendly café serving cream teas the Cornish way – with the jam first and the cream on top. From Kynance Cove, it’s a scenic two-mile walk to Lizard Point, mainland UK’s most southerly spot.
Six miles west of Newquay on the north coast is a sweep of fine golden sand and grass-tufted dunes. “In the storyline, there are two separate beaches,” explains Johnson. “One is owned by the Poldarks and the other is owned by the Warleggans – and that’s Holywell Bay.”
Like Porthcurno and Kynance Cove, Holywell Bay is owned by the National Trust, which manages 152 miles of Cornish coastline. It owes its name to a spring-fed well, which was believed to have curative properties.
Look out for Gull Rock in the background, a slate stack that stands a quarter of a mile offshore, which some say resembles a dog’s head. At low tide, it’s a mile long and its Atlantic swells are popular with surfers and bodyboarders. From the tall dunes, you can spy Penhale and Kelsey headlands and the twin offshore islands of Carter’s Rocks. If you’re lucky, you might also spot dolphins frolicking.
Find out more about the National Trust locations in this behind-the-scenes video:
Have a Poldark experience
Take a tour of Poldark Mine: Descend 100 feet through narrow passageways and experience the dark that tin miners faced every day at Poldark Mine on the Lizard Peninsula. For more information: poldarkmine.org.uk
See a working beam engine: You’ll recognise Levant Mine as Poldark’s Tressiders Rolling Mill, perched dramatically on a clifftop. Its restored 1840 beam engine is the only one in the world still powered by steam. For more information: nationaltrust.org.uk/levant-mine-and-beam-engine
Saddle up on Bodmin Moor: Hallagenna Farm in St Breward offers horse riding and pony trekking for all abilities. Experienced riders can do the Poldark trail, following in Ross’s wake onthe moors. For more information: hallagenna.co.uk
Learn about stream panning: Tolgus Tin Mill near Redruth is the only surviving mill of its kind. The guided tour demonstrates how tin recovered from the stream is smelted on site to create Cornish jewellery. For more information: hallagenna.co.uk
Splash out on a Poldark weekender: Taking place next May, it includes scenic location tours, three nights at the five-star star resort where the cast stayed and a costume ball. For more information: thepoldarkexperience.co.uk