Three day Poldark inspired tour
of the north cornish coast and bodmin moor
Buffeted by Atlantic waves, Cornwall’s north coast is an expanse of cliffs, bays, beaches and clusters of seaside villages and towns. Being home to a large part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site, it is well endowed when it comes to Poldark connections.
Start out in the far west of Cornwall at St Just on the mining heritage coast of West Penwith. Leave the town on what has got to be one of the most amazing drives in the country (the B3066) where you will discover a journey of stunning views as the road hugs the coast and with every turn opens out onto yet more ocean splendour. Continue to the tiny hamlet of Botallack turning off to the left and follow signs to the Count House, the stunning mining landscape soon comes into view.
Park up just beyond the Count House and with care take a walk to the cliff to see the magical site of Crowns Mine perched perilously at the base of the cliff near the crashing waves. It is possible walk down to the mines on the path but caution should be taken and the hike back up can be a challenge.
Looking westwards the first engine house you see is West Wheal Owles which featured as Ross Poldark’s mines, Wheal Leisure and Wheal Grace. It’s a flat walk and many a famous scene has been shot there. If the Count House is open have a coffee and watch the film about the use of the area for filming.
From Botallack hit the South West Coast Path and visit Levant Mine and Beam Engine just two miles along the coast to the east. Levant featured in Poldark series one as Tressiders Rolling Mill and in series two as the beam engine discussed by Francis and Ross. Levant Mine has been restored and is the only surviving example of a working beam engine. Take a tour and learn the meaning of many mining terms.
It’s possible to carry on walking to Geevor Tin Mine but you may prefer to head back to the car and drive. On arrival, seeing it’s lunchtime, head first for the Count House Café to have a bite to eat – in true Cornish mining style, the pasties are particularly good, as is the view!
Although not used in the filming of Poldark, Geevor is a must-visit. It’s the largest preserved mine site in the country and offers an underground tour deep into the 18th Century tunnels. There’s also a chance to get interactive in the Hard Rock Museum and to explore the many buildings with their magnificent mining machinery.
Overnight stay and evening meal in St Ives.
Spend the morning exploring the St Agnes area, first calling into St Agnes Museum (free entry). Many familiar names of the Poldark series are mentioned in here, notably, Richard Tonkin (played in the series by Cornish actor Rory Wilton) and the royal academician, portrait artist John Opie. George Warleggan tells Elizabeth he is commissioning a portrait of them both by Mr Opie as a replacement for the painting of Francis Poldark he removes from the wall.
From the harbour pick up the track to St Agnes Head, now famous as the location for the cliff-hangers to both series one and series two of Poldark. Walk along the South West Coast Path to Wheal Coates before wandering back through the village. Be sure to seek out the steep terraced miners cottages of Stippy Stappy Lane, referred to frequently in the series and most famously by Prudie when she threatens to kick Jud down it!
Refuel in Perranporth where Winston Graham lived and wrote Poldark. The three miles of sandy beach here were his inspiration for Hendrawna Beach and a walk across the beach and up the first cliff steps will take you to the Winston Graham memorial bench which sits where his writing chalet once stood. Perranporth also used to be the home to the real Wheal Leisure tin mine.
Enjoy a leisurely afternoon at the National Trust Holywell Bay. The golden sands and blue waters are home to the iconic twin peaked Gull Rock which provides the backdrop to many beach scenes, including those of Dwight Enys and Caroline Penvenen riding in the dunes.
Wrap up your day at the National Trust property of Trerice which inspired Trenwith in Winston Graham’s novels. This intimate Elizabethan manor has undergone little change over the years and boasts fine interiors and a delightful garden.
Overnight stay in the Newquay or Padstow areas.
This morning your cell awaits at Bodmin Jail. On a chilling tour of this historic prison turned visitor attraction you’ll see where Ross Poldark was locked up while he awaited his fate in series two. You’ll also see the execution pit that still works and hear real-life stories of the inmates that were held here over its 150-year reign as a working jail until it closed in 1927.
From Bodmin, head up onto Bodmin Moor with views north towards Rough Tor and Brown Willy. Stop off for a spot of lunch at Jamaica Inn before taking a look in the smuggling museum.
Drive across the moor and soak up the wild and rugged atmosphere captured so beautifully on screen. Head for the village of Minions near The Hurlers stone circle. Take the track up onto the moor and after about a mile you will be at the crossroads where Ross Poldark alighted the coach on his return for the American War of Independence in 1783. From here you can also climb up onto Stowes Hill and view the amazing Cheeswring rock formation.