Discovering the real Cornwall of Ross Poldark can be a complicated business. Much of the action featured in Winston Graham’s hugely popular series of novels takes place in real Cornish locations, but book onto one of the many organised Poldark tours and you’re likely to find yourself visiting locations used in the two television adaptations. So how best to experience the true spirit of Poldark’s Cornwall? Follow our useful guide.
Find Nampara Cove near Padstow
Begin near Kilden Mor and visit some of North Cornwall’s most beautiful beaches. Porthcothan is the setting for Nampara Cove, home of Ross Poldark in the modern TV adaptation. This sheltered, rugged cove is perfect for swimmers, particularly at high tide when the beach floods, sheltering you from swells and high winds. At low tide it opens out, connecting with its neighbouring coves.
Cross Bodmin to spy Nampara itself
Nampara itself is located near Padstow on rugged Bodmin Moor. The property is an old farmhouse just east of St Breward, though this is a private property so it’s best to appreciate it from a respectful distance.
Explore the mines where Poldark’s filming took place
The first Poldark story begins in 1783, a time when mining was still an important industry in Cornwall. Returning from war in America, Ross Poldark finds himself in a new fight for survival, as he discovers his family’s copper mines are nearly ruined.
The drama is set against one of the world’s most beautiful mining landscapes. Poldark’s mine, Wheal Leisure, is fictional, but the recent TV series used the real life Botallack for filming. Here you can still visit the engine house, and see freestanding brick structures built for the production.
Shipwrecks and smuggling
‘The water surged and eddied, changing colour on the shelves of dripping rocks.’
The sea plays a dramatic role in both the books and the TV series. Church Cove beach at Gunwalloe on the Lizard was used for night time shipwreck and smuggling scenes. In real life however it was neighbouring Dollar Cove which was notorious for many real wrecks.
Sit in the author’s memorial seat at Perranporth
To the south of Newquay, Perranporth is the town where Poldark’s famed author Winston Graham lived and worked. Visit the beach at low tide and you can walk to Flat Rocks, where there’s a seat and memorial plaque to the author on the clifftop. Graham also had a writing chalet here once but sadly it has since burnt down.
Tall ships at Truro and Charlestown
High up on the Poldark trail is the port at Charlestown. With its tall ships and unspoiled 18th century ambience it feels like walking onto a film set. It’s not the original setting though – the harbour and streets of Truro were the real inspiration for the novels and a place Winston Graham loved to visit throughout his life.
The town is much changed now, and the street scenes were actually filmed in Corsham, Wiltshire. But Truro is still worth a visit, particularly the surrounding countryside where you can get a feel for the landscape of Poldark, exploring the waterways which are linked to the outside world by bridges, fjords and stepping stones.
St Agnes aka Sawle
St Agnes was the inspiration for the village of Sawle, whose attractive Victorian terrace features in all seven of Winston Graham’s original novels.
‘From the Church of Sawle, you went down Stippy Stappy Lane. From here it was a few yards to the highbar of shingle and the shallow inlet of the bay.’
Follow the lane and you’ll come to characterful Trevaunance Cove, home to ‘gaunt fish packing houses’ in the novels. Inevitably there are now cafes here instead – still a great place to thumb through your favourite Poldark story.