Britain on film: the UK’s best cinematic locations
Charmouth Beach, Dorset
Dorset: Ammonite (2021)
This year’s Victorian romance shows Dorset’s craggy Jurassic Coast at its most dramatic, off season: blustery, glowering and pummelled by crashing waves. Telling the story of Britain’s unsung fossil-hunting pioneer, Mary Anning (Kate Winslet), it was filmed in picture-perfect Lyme Regis, where you can still find fossils among the huge black boulders and walk The Cobb sea wall, dating back to 1826. The area is even more beautiful in spring and summer: explore other seen-on-screen Dorset scenery such as Bridport’s ruffled golden cliffs, or Lulworth Cove’s sea arch.
Stay at The Priory Hotel
Vault Beach, Cornwall © Matt Jessop
South Cornwall: About Time (2013)
No one does romance like Richard Curtis – and he both wrote and directed this 2013 rom-com, where a London-based couple escapes to the man’s family home in ravishing Cornwall. Cue lots of wholesome clifftop picnics and heart-to-hearts exchanged on beach walks. The Lake family’s idyllic lifestyle was captured on Cornwall’s south coast, around St Austell, particularly Porthpean and Gorran Haven. Seek out the unspoiled Vault Beach, backed by shimmering green slopes, or potter about quaint Portloe, where the wedding scene was filmed.
Stay at The Nare Hotel
© 2020 StudioCanal SAS
Yorkshire: The Secret Garden (2020)
Misty, vine-wrapped and impossibly green, this 2020 remake of the beloved British children’s book is a love letter to Yorkshire’s fertile countryside and atmospheric stately homes. Location scouts sought out the magically overgrown Fountains Abbey for many of the garden scenes, as well as Helmsley Walled Garden in the North York Moors, best known for its romantic, yellow-blossomed laburnum arch – but walking breaks around the county’s rugged moors and dales stopping at grand old houses with Victorian gardens, will give you a taste of the movie. Bits of the movie were filmed in Snowdonia and Cornwall, too – but it’s the unpretentious Yorkshire hospitality that will make your Secret-Garden-inspired break.
Bovey Castle, Dartmoor
Dartmoor, Devon: War Horse (2011)
Written by local Michael Morpurgo with Devon’s bleakly beautiful landscapes in mind, it was only right that the film adaption of the play War Horse was filmed on Dartmoor. Shoots took place among the craggy tors and wholesome meadows around Sheepstor and Meavy, where legendary director Steven Spielberg waxed lyrical about Devon’s cinematic beauty. On your treks across the moor, look out for the storybook Ditsworthy Warren House, and the Royal Oak pub in Meavy, where Mr Spielberg and crew enjoyed a pint. Visit Dartmoor’s website has directions for a War Horse Walk here.
Stay at Bovey Castle
Scottish Highlands: Mary, Queen of Scots (2018)
It’s a brutal and bloody tale of royal conspiracy, plotting and war, but this 2018 historic epic made Scotland’s wild scenery sing. It was filmed all over the country (many of the castle scenes at Blackness Castle, just outside Edinburgh), but most alluring are the Highland glens, where Mary (played by Saoirse Ronan) rides horseback through vast open countryside and fairytale forest. Two of the most scenic spots chosen by producers were Glencoe, close to Loch Leven, and Glenfeshie, a protected area of ancient forest in the heart of the Cairngorms.
Grove of Narberth
Wales: The Edge of Love (2008)
A glamorous 1940s love triangle between the poet Dylan Thomas, his wife Caitlin and his first love Vera, British film The Edge of Love is set against the wild beaches and cutesy stone-built villages of south and west Wales. From frolicking on the unspoilt beaches around New Quay to watching the fishing boats in pastel-painted Tenby, via historic Lampeter and the Gwili steam railway near Carmarthen, the Welsh scenery is pure poetry – sure to inspire your own rural romance.
Stay at Grove at Narberth
Article written by Lucy Thackray