Cornwall

On set at Botallack - Oct 18

Poldark – its a wrap!

16Oct
Ross and Demelza - Poldark, BBC

Ross, Demelza & the Crowns, BBC

Botallack as Wheal Leisure - Oct 18

Botallack as Wheal Leisure – Oct 18

Filming has just finished in West Cornwall for the fifth and final Poldark series.

The top stars of the hit show – Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson – have been staying in St Ives Bay and have been spotted out and about in restaurants, shopping, down at the gym and visiting attractions.  Having been here for 5 consecutive years – the cast really do know this area well!

Once again late September/early October gave some fantastic weather for filming, showing Cornwall and its magnificent scenery at its magical best.  We took a behind the scenes look at one of the iconic locations that is the setting of Wheal Leisure – Poldark’s mining venture.

Perched high on the cliffs, with dramatic views over the Atlantic, the imposing engine houses that dot the landscape are monuments to Cornwall’s 19th century mining heyday.  The mineral rich rocks below created a hot bed of industry and expertise that spread across the world and Cornish miners and engineers and their families resettled in every corner of the globe.

At its peak, around 600 engine houses toiled pumping water from the deep and dangerous shafts below, supplying not just tin, but also two thirds of the world’s supply of copper. At Botallack, the Crowns engine houses that cling to the cliffs are part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

The behind the scenes support for this set was huge – a car park full of enormous trucks and trailers for wardrobe, makeup, editing and sound, as well as catering and security, not to mention horses and their entourage.  With period styled sheds and props, working doors and platforms to emerge from, and the stunning sea as the backdrop Botallack was transformed into the hub of Ross Poldark’s mining holdings.

Now owned by the National Trust, Botallack is a great spot for walking (please note high sheer cliffs), learning about the mining heritage of Cornwall, and has a cafe and visitor centre in what used to be the count house for the mine.

Poldark also features some of West Cornwall’s best and breathtakingly beautiful beaches and coves.

Porthcurno beach, Adam Gibbard

Porthcurno Beach, Adam Gibbard

Poldark filming Porthgwarra, Visit Cornwall

Poldark filming Porthgwarra, Visit Cornwall

On the south coast, Porthcurno stars as Nampara Cove and the memorable shots of Ross Poldark being watched swimming by Demelza were filmed at Porthgwarra.  Around the Roseland, Kynance Cove has also been used for beach scenes.

A beautiful sunny day at Carbis Bay gave great closeups of Ross Poldark in a rowing boat.  Porthcurno and Carbis Bay are particularly family friendly beaches with sheltered blue waters and great facilities. The Poldark stars have enjoyed all this stunning scenery and the odd dip in the beautiful blue waters.  Read their thoughts here.

You can see some suggested family friendly walks around Poldark country here.  If you want to get more info about Poldark in Cornwall – why not download the Experience Poldark app for iphone or Android!

To get a feel of life as a miner and go underground at a real tin mine – Poldark Mine, near Helston, runs tours of the 18th mine workings – some of the underground scenes in Poldark were filmed here.

West Cornwall has really been such a star of the series we will be really sad to see it end!

Minke Whale off Cornwall

Wild about wildlife

31Aug

Anyone who visits Cornwall comes to see the sea, but the amazing animals that populate this beautiful coastline can be a little bit more elusive. Here are some hints to get close to the beautiful ocean wildlife whilst visiting Cornwall.

Atlantic Grey Seals play on rocks

Atlantic Grey Seals play on rocks

Some marine mammals are quite easy to see – grey seals are abundant around the coast and there are great spots to view them from land and sea. They tend to roam around good feeding grounds and haul out at their favourite sunning spots. St Ives Bay has good sources of fish for the seals, and some inaccessible coves that they can retreat to.

Chy an Carrack’s best vantage point is the master en suite, the highest window, from where you can often see seals bobbing around the rocks of Porthminster Point, just below the house.  Keep an eye out for seals around Porthminster Beach, the Harbour and Carbis Bay Beach and on coastal walks.  If you head to Godrevy Point at the other end of the bay there is a haul out cove just around from the lighthouse, peek down the sheer drop from the cliffs above and you are bound to see a few sunning themselves below (more than 100 have been spotted at one time). Even newborn fluffy white seal pups appear during the autumn breeding season. The Cornish Seal Sanctuary, near Helston, rescues many seal pups in autumn and winter and at their rescue centre you can see the work they do and get close to the seals.

Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean

Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean

Why not get out onto the sea?  You can take a boat trip to “Seal Island” from St Ives Harbour. Try taking a SUP or kayak out from one of the beaches and if you are lucky you might get close and personal – we had a seal pop up and say hello whilst bodyboarding at Carbis Bay beach last week. They are more likely to be around early in the morning or in the evening when the beaches are less busy.

Dolphins appear regularly but are more elusive than the seals. Chy an Carrack has a great panoramic views of the bay so keep your eyes peeled and get the binoculars out for a closer look if a pod of dolphins does appear, again morning or evening are good times to look. They are also regularly spotted at Porthmeor and Sennen beaches, and known to enjoy a bit of surfing.

The biggest marine life to spot are basking sharks and whales. Basking sharks are gentle giant filter feeders that appear in spring and summer when the plankton blooms – they are easiest seen from headlands like the Lizard or Land’s End. You have to be very lucky to see whales from land, but if you do you certainly don’t forget it – the author having spotted a pod of four enormous whales one winter from Godrevy Point.

Perhaps the best chance to get to see the elusive marine wildlife is to go on a dedicated wildlife cruise, when you might get to see seals, dolphins, the bizarre sunfish, sharks and even whales.

Ocean Sunfish surfaces

Ocean Sunfish surfaces

The south coast is a good cruising location and specialists such as AK Wildlife Cruises run year round excursions from Falmouth and through the year spot a wide variety of these amazing creatures, as well as a wide range of beautiful seabirds. Read more about the thrill of an ocean safari in this great article by Charlie Elder here.

Ocean sunfish and minke whale pictures (taken off the Cornwall coastline) courtesy of Charlie Elder, journalist, photographer and author – check out his beautiful photos and books here.

Marvellous May

22May

May is the month when you really start to feel summer in on its way, days lengthen, the sun shines and you can feel the warm sand beneath your toes.

There is plenty to do in St Ives – here’s our guide to making the most of May!

With the warm weather its the perfect time to get into the water – try stand up paddle boarding from the gentle beaches of Porthminster below the house or Carbis Bay just along the coast path.  Surfers can head to Gwithian across the bay or Porthmeor, St Ives. Both have excellent surf schools so if you have never surfed or SUP’d before why not book a lesson?

Patrick Heron – Azalea Garden: May 1956 – Tate
© The estate of Patrick Heron

Tate St Ives launches its main summer exhibition in May (til 30 Sept ’18) and this year the Patrick Heron retrospective brings a life-affirming splash of colour and energy.  The internationally renowned post-war artist was based on the wilder side of St Ives, near Zennor, surrounded by dramatic landscapes and perched overlooking the sea.

Over 300 working artists open their studios to all from 19-28 May 18 in Open Studios Cornwall.  There are many based in and around St Ives and it is a great chance to meet contemporary artists and learn about their skill, book into a workshop or pick up something special.

St Ives Food and Drink Festival (11-13 May 18) – set on the golden sands of Porthminster Beach – just below Chy an Carrack, you can pop down for local and fusion food, chef demos and sample some cracking Cornish beer and spirits.  Our favourites this year were Tarquins Gin Bar and the fish burgers!  Local boy Tom Brown, previously head chef at Outlaws at The Capital, who has just opened his own new London venture Cornerstone, did a great demo scallop dish.

If you want to make the most of the light evenings and the best local seafood – why not have a beach barbecue?  Mackerel fillet burgers are highly recommended as a quick and easy supper, that taste even better on the beach. Just add ciabatta, crisp lettuce, tomato slices, spring onion and a parsley, tarragon and Dijon mayonnaise to raise them to a sublime seaside feast, whilst the sun sets over the waves.

 

 

 

Tate St Ives Exterior

Tate St Ives reopening is a triumph

17Oct
Rebecca Warren exhibition in new Tate extension

Rebecca Warren exhibition in new Tate extension

Its an extension that has taken 12 years, and what has emerged from this long and detailed process, is an iconic gallery that now commands and celebrates its coastal setting.  It leads you through the story of the British, Cornish and international artists that congregated in and around St Ives during and after the second world war and highlights the astounding impact this tiny artistic corner had on the development of abstraction across the western world.

Works by Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson sit beside their international contemporaries and friends Naum Gabo and Piet Mondrian.  Colourful, perceptive and uplifting pieces by Alfred Wallis, Bryan Wynter, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, John Wells, Wilhemina Barns-Graham, William Scott and Sandra Blow all have their part in this intriguing story and are central to the new permanent exhibition.

Chy an Carrack perched above the beach – viewed through a Hepworth sculpture

The flow of the building has been reversed and the climax of this journey is the fantastic new 500m2 industrial exhibition space that links these abstraction pioneers to contemporary artists.  The debut exhibition features organic, reaching sculptures by Rebecca Warren.  A selection of intriguing recent works their hand-worked, sometimes humorous, spindly forms are a contrast to the smooth, polished, sensual sculptures of Hepworth.

Insights for all ages are available through educational talks and events and activities, boosted by the new studio spaces and installations of interactive explorations of abstract art.  Although spoilt for choice by the surrounding cafes of St Ives, the Tate Café sitting on the roof overlooking the stunning vista of Porthmeor Beach is also worth a visit.

Tate St Ives is just a delightful walk through the town from Chy an Carrack, and a weekend spent absorbing the artistic heritage of the town, the spectacular coastal scenery and sampling some delicious Cornish seafood can’t be far from the perfect winter weekend break!

Alfred Wallis – The Blue Ship circa 1934 – courtesy Tate

Check our online calendar for availability and special offers for luxury self-catering winter breaks in St Ives.

Tate St Ives
Rebecca Warren – All that Heaven Allows – until 7 Jan 2018
Virginia Woolf – 10 Feb – 29 Apr 2018
Patrick Heron – 19 May – 9 Sept 2018

Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden