With its dramatic and varied landscapes and characterful locals, the South West of England has been the setting of some of the nation’s favourite stories.

Winston Graham’s series of Poldark‘ books has seen a huge revival recently with a lavish BBC production filmed nearly exclusively in Cornwall.  The harbour scenes were shot in Charlestown near St. Austell, and Poldark’s Nampara homestead was based on a cottage on Bodmin moor – while further afield, the dramatic mining landscapes of St. Agnes and Botallack played an important role in the stories.

ITV’s Doc Martin is set in the fictional town of Portwenn, but was filmed nearly entirely in Port Isaac.  Many of our visitors like to take a photo outside Doc Martin’s house, and explore the charming streets of this local fishing village.

Daphne Du Maurier’s novels are mostly set in the West Country – her famous story ‘Jamaica Inn’ is based on the real life coaching inn on the desolate Bodmin moor, and in 2014 was made into a BBC series.  This location is steeped in stories of smugglers and illicit trade, and is a short drive along the A30 down into Cornwall. 

Rosamund Pilcher is another famous Cornish author who chose to set many of her famous stories, including ‘The Shell-Seekers’ in the fishing villages of Cornwall.

Famous films
The Spielberg hit-film ‘War Horse, based on a novel by popular Cornish author Michael Morpurgo, introduced the stunning scenery of Dartmoor to a new audience.  The landscapes around Haytor, Combestone Tor, Venford Reservoir, Meavy and Sheepstor are part of the rural charm of the early scenes. 

There are many other films and books set in the South-west, including the light-hearted comedy ‘Saving Grace’, the swashbuckling TV films from the ‘Hornblower’ series, and the harrowing Straw Dogs’.

Myths and legends

Most famously, Tintagel (20 miles from us) is traditionally thought of as the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur.  Its spectacular cliff-top ruins of a once imposing castle are sure to capture the imagination.  A long sea cave on the beach below is named Merlin’s cave, and in some variations of the legend, the infant Arthur was washed ashore and saved by the wizard who resided there.  In the beautiful nearby waterfall at St. Nectan’s Glen, the knights of the round-table were thought to have been blessed prior to the Quest for the Holy Grail.  Further afield on Bodmin Moor lies Dozmary Pool, where Arthur is said to have rowed out to claim his sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake.

King Arthur isn’t the only famous legend in the area.  Jack the Giant Killer is an old story from Cornish folklore about a gutsy lad who slayed a number of the troublesome giants that were said to roam the West Country. 

Meanwhile, Dartmoor is the host of a huge number of spooky stories.  Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was inspired by the local legend of the hell hounds – it is said that each night after midnight, the devil sets out hunting from Wistman’s Wood near Princetown with his pack of ferocious red-eyed hounds.  There are plenty of mysterious Dartmoor stories, from cruel witches turning people into granite tors, to mischievous piskies leading people into mires.

Come and stay with us and find out what makes the West Country such a great setting.