From the best beaches Cornwall has to offer to the pretty villages and towns that make the Cotswolds unique, cinematographers continue to make the most of the UK’s bountiful scenery. We’ve had Hollywood use Cornish attractions to house Bond villains, ITV has based tense dramas on the Devonshire coast, and the magical world of Harry Potter has travelled the length of the country for its many spellbinding spots.
What makes the UK’s filming locations extra special? You can visit them yourself! Forget studio tours and green screen imaginings, you can see your favourite on-screen locations during your next staycation, whether it’s a piece of Hogwarts history or a swoon-worthy scene straight out of an Austin retelling.
From the small screen all the way up to a Hollywood blockbuster, these famous filming locations are sure to inspire your next UK holiday – make sure to pack a camera so you can capture your own movie moments!
Known for its iconic coastline and picture-perfect villages, it’s little wonder Cornwall has been used as a backdrop on more than one occasion. From blockbuster films to Cornwall-based series that steal your heart and fill your wanderlist with places to go, this colourful county is crammed full of cinema worthy scenes waiting to be explored.
Full of romance, drama, and enigmatic shots of Aiden Turner on a windswept Cornish beach, Poldark is one of the biggest shows to call Cornwall home. Based in the county and drawing on Cornwall’s rich mining heritage, the series takes you on a whirlwind journey, from the iconic sands of Holywell Bay and Gunwalloe (the church here is a star in its own right) to the wilds of Bodmin Moor and the craggy cliffs that surround Botallack and Levant.
House of the Dragon
One of the more recent shoots to take place, HBO’s hit series House of the Dragon made the most of Cornwall’s fantastical scenery. In the show, you can see dragons perched atop the famous cliffs at Kynance Cove, St Michael’s Mount became the ancestral home of the Valeryon House, and Holywell Bay once again made a star-studded appearance.
Another TV series that has famously made the most of Cornwall’s picturesque scenes, Doc Martin has almost exclusively filmed south of the Tamar. Port Isaac’s idyllic harbourside charm became the fictional Portwenn, with the surrounding coast of North Cornwall lending its own brand of beauty to the show. You’ll also spot the equally idyllic Port Quin in episodes, as well as Bodmin Moor and Pencarrow House, so you can soak up everything from quaint granite cottages to stately homes during your visit.
It might be set in Devon, but Beyond Paradise actually turned its cameras towards South Cornwall for much of the filming. Basing themselves in the pretty waterside town of Looe and the dappled depths of Tamar Valley, this beloved crime drama adds a spectacular element of suspense to your south Cornish stay.
Where else would the fabulously Cornish story of singing group Fisherman’s Friends take place if not in Cornwall, where Cornish pasties and shanties abound? Set and filmed in Port Isaac, Port Gaverne, and St Kew, this rip-roaring film will have you longing for cosy pubs and harbourside holidays in no time.
Renowned for its varied landscapes that encompass wide, sandy beaches and untamed moorland, Devon is a movie-maker’s dream. You can create a peaceful seaside scene or take a journey to the wilds of Dartmoor where the likes of Stephen Spielberg and BBC One have set up shots. Popular spot Saunton Sands has acted as a stand in for World War scenes many times, from fighter plane runways to D-Day.
Capturing the eye of esteemed filmmaker Steven Spielberg, Dartmoor National Park became quite the backdrop for scenes of home in War Horse. The likes of Haytor, Sheepstor, Combestone Tor, and Meavy all feature in the emotionally-charged film - we totally understand Spielberg’s obsession with the area. We recommend pulling on your walking boots and exploring the cinematic scenes on foot!
Sense and Sensibility
One for the Austenites out there, Sense and Sensibility fans can live out their own period drama by visiting the many beautiful castles, houses and gardens of Devon. Hartland Abbey, Saltram House, Efford House, Flete Estate, and Compton Castle are all featured in the film, lending their stately characters to the scenes.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Although set on the small island of Guernsey, this historical film uses the pretty landscapes and idyllic villages of Devon to portray its story of love and community. The utterly unique sloped streets of Clovelly can be watched and then explored, along with the equally enthralling towns of Hartland and Bideford. You can also see the famous golden hues of Saunton Sands, a Devonshire beach that has been featured in many films over the years.
Pretty as a picture and with a coastline worthy of an Oscar or two, Dorset’s bogglingly beautiful landscape has been snapped up by many filmmakers over the years. This stunning county has happily hosted a variety of mediums, from entire TV shows to a two-minute appearance alongside Brad Pitt (we’re a little jealous of that one) – not to mention music videos by the likes of Coldplay and Cliff Richard!
The russet-hued cliffs of West Bay are all but synonymous with the captivating TV series Broadchurch. As soon as you set foot on the golden sands, you half expect to see Olivia Coleman and David Tennent strolling towards you. It’s not just this beach that was made famous by the show though, oh no! You can walk along to Jurassic Pier, where coastal scenes painted a wonderful picture for the show’s backdrops, or you can head to Harbour Cliff beach where the iconic sandstone cliffs tower above the sands.
Far from the Madding Crowd
Bringing Thomas Hardy’s beloved book to life, the 2015 adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd found many bucolic backdrops across West Dorset. From the iconic coastal scenes at Durdle Door, West Bay, and Eype beach, to the historic setting of Maiden Castle and Mapperton House, this classic tale has created a truly unmissable wanderlist around Dorset - we highly recommend touring it on foot to get the full effect!
Another classic to turn its attention on Dorset, Daphne Du Maurier’s brilliant thriller finds its new home at Mapperton House and Cranborne Manor, where both stately homes become varying parts of the infamous Manderley House in the 2020 remake. The beautiful homes do an incredible job at recreating this iconic setting, and are well worth a tour of your own - especially the beautiful gardens.
On Chesil Beach
Named after the beach on which the story is set, the film On Chesil Beach really makes the most of the 18 miles of sand found here. You can walk in the sandy footprints of Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle and even grab a plate of fish and chips from the renowned Chesil Chippie!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
One for the kids and the young at heart, fans of the 1968 musical phenomenon can embark on their own song-fuelled adventures across Dorset, from the sweeping sands at Chesil beach to the deep blue waters of Fleet Lagoon that lie behind. Even Abbotsbury gets a cinematic mention as the car drives out of the village.
From period pieces to the spectacular second instalment of the Cornetto Trilogy, Somerset has played its part flawlessly in every appearance, making it a great place to visit when you fancy spot of scene-hopping. You might have seen a flash of Bath in Bridgerton or perhaps you’ve enjoyed a deep dive into the iconic countryside through the likes of Jack the Giant Slayer and Pandaemonium, which looks at two of the county’s most beloved former residents, Coleridge and Wordsworth.
Wells has been featured in many cinematic masterpieces over the years, but none represent the South West quite so vividly as Hot Fuzz. Throughout the chuckle-worthy film, the quaint stone-clad city offers up the iconic likes of The Swan Hotel, The Crown at Wells, The Bishop’s Palace, and Little Theatre, all of which feature throughout the film. The only Wells feature to be notably missing from the film is the cathedral, which was removed from each shot and replaced with the Church of St Cuthbert, which can also be visited.
Setting the scene for friendship and betrayal, the rolling Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park nearly stole the show in the 2000 biopic of Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The two actually lived and worked in this part of Somerset, so it was only natural for filming to take place here. Today, you can follow the acclaimed walking route known as the Coleridge Way, which takes you through the birthplace of romantic poetry and provides a stunning adventure into the lives of the two famous poets.
Les Misérables, Bridgerton, The Duchess
Oh, how period dramas love Bath! With such romantic architecture and a golden glow that sets the honey-hued buildings alight at sunset, it’s easy to understand why. Recent years have seen The Royal Crescent immortalised in The Duchess, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Bridgerton, while one of the iconic scenes with Javert in Les Misérables was filmed at Pulteney Bridge.
With its honey-toned hues and idyllic charms, the Cotswolds has stood in for many serene scenes throughout cinematic history. From wizards and witches to falling stars, you’ll find all sorts of inspiration for places to visit in this golden Area of Outstanding Beauty. In fact, whether it’s appeared on screen or not, it’s very easy to find your main character moment when surrounded with such picturesque beauty.
Cotswold superstar Lacock Abbey has appeared in many films and TV shows over the years, including Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice. But out of its appearances, it’s the wizarding world of Harry Potter that keeps people visiting year after year. Alongside Gloucester Cathedral, the Abbey helps bring Hogwarts from page to screen, with the incredible stone work creating a truly magical backdrop.
When depicting a quaint English village, where better to set the scene than the idyllic charms of a Cotswold village. Both Bibury and Castle Combe appeared in epic fantasy Stardust, with the Cotswold stone cottages and cobblestone streets perfectly capturing the heart and soul of the fictional village of Wall. You can walk along the river in Castle Combe and easily imagine moustachioed Henry Cavill challenging young Tristan Thorn to a duel by the gently flowing waters.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Another heart-wrenching tale by Thomas Hardy to find its on-screen home in the English countryside, Tess of the d’Urbervilles uses the idyllic wiles of the Cotswolds to maximum effect. Owlpen Manor, Sudeley Castle, Chavenage House, and Dyrham Park all lend their elegant stylings to the series, while the more rural scenes find their home in Wiltshire.
Isle of Wight
Home to one of the UK’s most well-known royal lodgings, it will come as little surprise that many of the Isle of Wight’s starring roles centre around Queen Victoria and Osborne House. Aside from regal biopics, the Island’s scenery has also made it to the big and silver screen, from comedy to horror – the Island has even set the stage for some music videos (oh yes, Take That have left footprints at Sandown).
Victoria and Abdul
The real-life holiday home of Queen Victoria, it was only natural that Osborne House feature heavily in this historical biopic (it can also be seen in royal drama, Mrs Brown). A visit to this beautiful Island house will reward you with incredible stately rooms, sweeping lawns, and the queen’s very own private beach.
Isle of Wight: Jewel of the South
Following the lives of residents of the Isle of Wight, this wonderful series shines a light on many corners of the Island, from the beautiful beaches to the historic towns. Cowes, Bembridge, Osborne House, Sandown, and Whitecliff Bay are all explored through the families that live and work here, each promising its own peaceful stay.
With one of the most instantly recognisable coastlines and an impressive collection of castles, Sussex has been a popular choice when depicting an idyllically English scene. The sun-soaked county has taken part in stories of love, loss, and superhuman feats, with a hearty mix of comedy thrown in thanks to Monty Python (Bodiam Castle).
The Theory of Everything
Setting the scene for a family day at the beach, Camber Sands was the perfect choice for this heartwarming moment between Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde. Visit the dunes yourself and get swept away in the coastal delights of this oh-so beautiful beach in East Sussex.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The memorable moment the group arrives on the cliffs at the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is instantly recognisable as the Seven Sisters. The towering white cliffs and rolling green landscape make this Sussex landmark the perfect place to film anything looking for a bit of everyday magic. There are some stunning walks nearby, so you needn’t get the portkey in!
Another film to make the most of the chalky delights of the Seven Sisters, Mr Holmes finds a perfect setting here in Sussex. Alongside the memorable cliffs, the pretty sights of Wickham Manor Farm in Winchelsea are used as the home for a retired Sherlock Holmes.
Jam-packed with epic castles, great swathes of versatile countryside, and a historic dockyard that has made many a director giddy with delight, there is a reason Kent’s on-screen catalogue is so impressive. This quintessential county has seen the likes of Margot Robbie, Hugh Jackman, Brendon Fraser, and Meryl Streep make the most of its rich history and landscapes – after all, where better to reap cinematic rewards than the Garden of England.
The Other Boleyn Girl
While you might not want to replicate the entire story, the stately scenes can easily be explored with a few fascinating visits in Kent. Many of the scenes took place at Knole House, a place so adored by Henry VIII he actually asked to be given it - the things you can do as king, eh? Dover Castle and Penshurst Place were also used as locations within the film, and still lend a touch of Tudor style to your visit.
The Hollow Crown
Bringing Shakespeare to life with the help of some of Kent’s historic buildings, The Hollow Crown is the perfect series for those who love drama and Tom Hiddleston. Dover Castle (which was also featured in Into the Woods and Avengers: Age of Ultron), Leeds Castle, and Penshurst Place all shared starring roles across the episodes, each lending their own historic beauty to the small screen.
Another historic hit, Darkest Hour utilises the heritage of Kent to great effect. The tunnels of Fort Amherst, which were actually used in World War II, and the grounds of Chartwell House, Churchill’s own former residence, were both used throughout the film.
Bonus visit: Chatham Historic Dockyard can be seen in The Mummy, Les Misérables, Children of Men, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Grantchester, The World is Not Enough, The Golden Compass, The Crown, Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows… to name but a few!
With such a beautiful coastline at its disposal, Pembrokeshire’s beaches have played host to many spectacular scenes. From the heart-breaking death of everyone’s favourite house elf to an action-packed battle led by Robin Hood (Russel Crowe), if you want a beach day worthy of Hollywood, a visit to Pembrokeshire is a star-studded must.
During the making of Robin Hood, a whopping 600 extras, 150 horses, and Russell Crowe descended on the sands at Freshwater West for a battle scene of epic proportions. This golden beach will also catch the eye of Harry Potter fans as the site of Dobby’s grave - a shrine to the brave house elf still remains to this day.
Me Before You
Set in Pembroke, this emotionally-charged story makes full use of its Welsh setting. Although filming takes place across the whole town, it’s Pembroke Castle that steals the show. It’s the opening shot in the trailer and sets the scene for some lovely interactions between the characters. The castle itself is fascinating, and well worth a visit when staying in Pembrokeshire.
This dramedy boasts a rather impressive cast and some seriously enviable filming locations thanks to the endlessly idyllic Pembrokeshire. Cresswell Quay, Freshwater West, and Porthgain Harbour all look their finest in the film as they help set the scene for this playful story.
With an impressive portfolio of gargantuan castles and the striking silhouette of Snowdonia National Park, it’s safe to say that North Wales boasts quite the dramatic backdrop, making it rather popular with Hollywood over the years. Portraying the shores of Ancient Greece and the rural plains of China, Gwynedd has travelled the world through the silver screen… Now it’s our turn…
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
This 2017 epic fantasy took inspiration from all over the UK, but when it came to unspoilt vistas, there was no other choice but the dramatic slopes of Tryfan mountain in the stunning Ogwen valley, which provided the perfect backdrop to Camelot. Filming also took place along the lakeside valley of Nant Gwynant and around Capel Curig, highlighting once more that the untouched beauty of North Wales is legendary and worthy of King Arthur himself.
Acting as yet another sign that you need to visit the incomparable Snowdonia National Park, George Lucas and Ron Howard’s cult classic Willow found the dramatic Dinorwic Slate Quarry to be the perfect locale for Bavmorda’s Nockmaar Castle (it was also featured in Clash of the Titans and Tarzan). Four towers and a front wall were built in the then-abandoned quarry (now you’ll find a rock climbing centre in its place), with the rest of the formidable castle generated through visual effects. Why not explore the surrounding mountainous terrain as if embarking on a fantastical quest - just make sure to pack your cloak!
Whether you’re an Austenite looking to recreate your favourite romantic scene (sorry, Mr Darcy isn’t supplied) or you’ve discovered that the fictional state of Genovia is actually right here in the UK, Wiltshire is the place to be for film buffs. Visit blockbusting castles, scene-setting towns, and a countryside so diverse it’s been used to portray both the fighting fields of Northern France and set the scene for an epic Bond chase.
Pride and Prejudice
On our list of the top proposal spots in the whole of the UK, Stourhead’s appearance in the 2005 rendition of Pride and Prejudice is nothing short of iconic and a leading reason we’re all looking for our Mr Darcy and a rain-swept declaration of love! Wiltshire’s contributions to the film didn’t stop there, either, as both Luckington Court and Wilton House both offered up their grounds for some regency era romance.
Set in the muddy fields of France, the incredibly shot war film 1917 was actually partially filmed on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, where the flat expanse of farmland stood in for northern France. This wide open landscape was also used in GoldenEye - who doesn’t love a Bond chase, after all!
Turning into the interior of the Duke of Hastings’ impressive family home Clyvedon Castle in Bridgerton, Wilton House has certainly earned its regal reputation. The gothic-stylings of the historic house have also appeared in the likes of Young Victoria, Tomb Raider, and The Crown, where it swapped stately home for Buckingham Palace.
From the deepest lake to the tallest peak, the Lake District has a fabulously varied landscape (that's best toured on foot), which lends itself perfectly to the big and small screen. This iconic Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has offered up its green-topped vistas to the likes of Star Wars and horror blockbuster 28 Days Later, which features scenes at Ennerdale Lake. Being the home of Beatrix Potter, naturally the area has also hosted many re-imaginings of her work, making it a wonderful place to scene-spot with the kids in tow.
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
We bet you weren’t expecting this one to be on this list! Oh yes, the smash hit return to George Lucas’s universe used the luscious landscape of Derwentwater and Thirlmere for one of the famous scenes in this planet-hopping flick. Rey can be heard marvelling at the sheer quantity of green as the Millennium Falcon descends on fictional planet Takodana - and given she was looking out at The Lakes, we’d have to agree it’s an impressively green sight!
A massive part of the Lake District’s literary heritage, Beatrix Potter’s charming biopic tours some of the author’s favourite locations throughout the Lakes, including Loughrigg, Grasmere, and Coniston. Peter Rabbit also makes its home in the area adding Ambleside, Dale Head Hall, and Windermere to your to-visit list. You can pair your scenic sightseeing with a trip to The World of Beatrix Potter in Windermere, an attraction for book lovers of all ages.
Swallows and Amazons
Famously inspired by Coniston Water, the beloved story of four children takes place on the Lake District’s very own Coniston Water. You can even embark on a Swallows and Amazons cruise during your visit, which leads you around all the locations used in both films.
Yorkshire’s cinematic CV is almost as impressive as some of the stars that have filmed there, which is saying something when the likes of Ewan MacGregor (Brassed Off), Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls), and Maggie Smith (The Secret Garden) have appeared on the moors. Speaking of, Yorkshire’s moors and rolling hills are definitely one of the biggest draws to this wild and wondrous county of counties. From the vast and verdant sights of the Dales to the moody North York Moors, directors are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful backdrops.
Malham Cove’s epic appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a fan favourite, with the eye-catching rock formations providing a perfectly spellbinding place to pitch a magical tent. Goathland Station, on the other hand, allows Potterheads to visit Hogsmeade in person, as the pretty station welcomed the iconic Hogwarts Express in the Philosopher's Stone. We recommend boarding a train along the North York Moors Railway for your own magical experience (you can also visit the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland for a different view of the Hogwarts Express), walking to Malham Cove, or stopping by the National Railway Museum for your chance to see the real life Hogwarts Express, the Flying Scotsman.
James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small
Set and filmed in Yorkshire, this charming series painted a truly wonderful picture of life in the Dales. Upper Wharfedale and Littondale can be seen across the series and provide the perfect starting point for your own bucolic adventure across field, moor and dale.
Although predominantly set in Birmingham, this compelling story takes the Shelbys to Yorkshire on more than one occasion. Bolton Abbey in Skipton and Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford are just two of the notable landmarks to feature on the show, while the rolling hills of West Yorkshire enjoy more than their fair share of screen time too.
Boasting scrawling National Parks, grand castles, and a wall that inspired Game of Thrones, Northumberland is a film set that just keeps on giving. It’s played host to many period pieces, including Downton Abbey Christmas specials, and it’s even set the scene for the world’s favourite flying lesson in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
With famous filming locations across the UK, including Yorkshire, Sussex, and Wiltshire, this classic depiction of England’s beloved hero certainly provides plenty of places for your wanderlist. One of the most instantly recognisable spots, however, has to be the Sycamore Gap, which can be found along Hadrian's Wall. Possibly one of the most well known trees in the UK, it was a clear choice for the scene in which Robin first meets Wulf and Guy of Gisbourne.
Blackadder, or The Black Adder as it was originally called, enjoyed the grand setting of Alnwick Castle as its backdrop during its first season, creating the perfect atmosphere for this not-quite historically accurate comedy series. Both the castle’s courtyard and surrounding countryside can be seen throughout the series, with snow making a surprise guest appearance in many of the shots.
The Scottish Highlands
With a natural backdrop that includes great, sweeping lochs and towering mountains, it’s of little surprise that the Scottish Highlands has enjoyed its fair share of screen time over the years. Its historical and natural landmarks have been used countless times in the likes of Harry Potter, while the rugged landscape has set the scene for many classics, from James Bond to Braveheart.
Daniel Craig’s epic third instalment of James Bond took him to the wilds of Glen Coe where filming took place for the action-packed conclusion to Skyfall. The famous road that sweeps through the glen was featured in the film, alongside the surrounding landscape, giving you plenty of opportunities to tour Scotland like James Bond.
Taking the small screen by storm, Outlander has shot many of its scenes across Scotland, from the Royal Burge of Culross, Preston Mill, and Falkland Palace to Culloden, where the infamous battle took place (both on-screen and off-screen in 1946).
One for the children, the famous Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis were used as inspiration for the standing stones in the popular Disney film Brave. The fascinating and ancient stones are a true wonder to behold and make for a rather magical day trip – especially when visiting with wide-eyed youngsters on the hunt for a will-o’-the-wisp.
Feeling inspired and ready to scene-hop around the UK? Take a look at our wonderfully welcoming holiday cottages, which make a rather exceptional base for your cinematic stay.