Rosamund Pilcher portrait

Walking Rosamunde Pilcher’s Cornwall

- November 12, 2019 -

Some authors are associated with certain landscapes: think Hardy and Dorset, Dickens and London, Austen and Bath. More recently, there’s the late Rosamunde Pilcher and Cornwall.


Rosamunde Pilcher’s written descriptions of Cornwall, especially the coast, are beautifully vivid and evocative. Her legacy is more than novels and short stories: her work has captured the imaginations of producers, and many of the adaptations are filmed on location in Cornwall.


Location spotting is a favourite pastime, and we can take you to many lovely Pilcher locations. What’s her Cornish connection, and how has she reached such a large audience?

Rosamunde Pilcher and Cornwall

Rosamund Scott was born in Lelant, a village between St Ives and Hayle, in 1924. She went to school near Penzance before moving to a school in Llandaff, then on to secretarial college. She joined the WRNS during the war, then married Graham Pilcher in 1946. The couple moved to Dundee.


Rosamund had always written – she’d had a story published when she was just 15 – and she carried on writing after her marriage. Initially, she wrote romances for Milnes & Boon under a pseudonym, but by 1965, she was writing under her own name.

Shell Seekers book cover

Her real breakthrough came in 1985 with The Shell Seekers, a family saga set in Cornwall and London. Its tale of ordinary people in extraordinary times, set against an evocative background, won her literally millions of fans: to date, it’s sold over 5 million copies worldwide.


She carried on writing bestsellers, often set in her former Cornish home. Then, in a twist to the tale, German television station ZDF began adapting her work – and a whole new nation fell in love with Rosamunde Pilcher.


An International Audience comes to Cornwall


ZDF has now made over 100 films based on Pilcher novels and short stories, and they film on location in Cornwall. Her fans follow the films, and Cornwall welcomes around 350,000 visitors from Germany every year.


Aside from the plots and characters, Marco Serafini, one of the ZDF production’s directors, believes that German audiences love the books and adaptations because of the grand landscapes (which are very different to German scenery) and nostalgic village communities.



Rosamund Pilcher Walks in Cornwall


With so many novels and productions set in recognisable locations, it’s very easy to hit the Rosamunde Pilcher trail, especially on foot. Here are a few of our Cornish walking tours that take in Rosamunde Pilcher locations.


Rosamund Pilcher’s Birthplace: St Ives to Portreath

Rosamund Pilcher was born in Lelant, and married Graham in St Uny’s Church in the village. The first day of our two-day walk from St Ives to Portreath takes you east from St Ives towards Hayle, through Lelant. The walk takes you right by the church, with beautiful views across the sea and estuary. It’s easy to see how this landscape inspired a young writer.

St Ives harbour from above
A Location-spotting Walk: St Ives to Marazion


One of our best-loved walks takes in so many Rosamund Pilcher film locations. It’s a six-day walk through some of Cornwall’s best scenery, taking you from pretty St Ives along the wild west coast, then round Land’s End to the softer scenery of Mounts Bay.


Land’s End appears in the 1998 film adaptation of The Shell Seekers. Lamorna and Mousehole star in a few productions, including Snow In April and The Empty House. Penzance also features in The Shell Seekers, then it’s on to Marazion, where St Michael’s Mount has appeared in several productions (try ZDF’s Magic Night, where much of the love story is set on the Mount).


A Favourite Location: St Ives to Padstow

This is a wonderful walk, taking you through eight days’ worth of beautiful coastal scenery. Again, it takes you through Rosamund Pilcher’s childhood haunts in the early stages, before heading off on an odyssey of clifftops and coves. When you arrive in Padstow on Day 8, you’re rewarded by one, the tantalising thought of Rick Stein fish and chips, and two, a visit to Prideaux Place.


This 16th-century house has starred in no fewer than 16 Pilcher productions, and is a must-see location for dedicated fans. It welcomes 25,000 visitors annually – and 40% of these are from Germany.

Prideaux place at Padstow
Rosamund Pilcher’s Lizard Locations: Marazion to Coverack


West Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula is probably better-known as Ross Poldark’s galloping ground; however, its sweeping clifftop paths and sandy coves have also featured in Rosamund Pilcher adaptations.


This four-day walk starts at Marazion, then takes you round the sweep of Mounts Bay to the peninsula. Gunwalloe and Mullion Cove were used for scenes in Summer Awakening, The Prime of Life and Never Kiss a Lawyer.


If you’re one of her many loyal readers, there are so many evocative Rosamunde Pilcher locations to explore in Cornwall. If you’d like to know more about any of these walks, please contact us at Western Discoveries.

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