My Countryside interview: Ruby Bentall

The Poldark actress discusses the delights of filming in Cornwall and reveals an ingenious solution to the jam-or-cream-first conundrum...

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My favourite memories of the countryside are from the Lake District, where my aunt and uncle live. I’ve spent many family Christmases there and every Boxing Day we go on a lovely crisp walk. It’s so great to get out of London for a bit.

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The most beautiful natural sight in Britain to me would have to be Cornwall. I had never really visited Cornwall before, but we were filming Poldark over the heatwave last summer and Aidan and I were on our horses on the edge of a cliff and I thought, “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been”. I couldn’t believe it was England. We travelled round Cornwall quite a bit and it’s all so amazing.

The fact that Poldark is set in Cornwall is very important. The mining industry is vital to the story, as is the problem of it being a smallish community where everyone knows everyone and their business. There is also a wildness to some of the characters that I think comes from being out in the Cornish air.

We filmed Ross Poldark’s family home on Bodmin Moor, which was a great location. With filming you often have to arrive just as the sun is coming up – viewing the vastness of the moor with the wild ponies at that time was just brilliant. It made those 5.30am pick-ups worth it.

I went on a wonderful walk starting at Constantine bay (which is just lovely – I swam there loads and watched the sunset) and walked around Trevose Head. It took me a good couple of hours and was glorious.

If I had a magic wand, the thing I would change about Britain’s countryside is the litter. I just can’t understand people who can do that. Also, very selfishly, when I’m walking in the countryside I don’t like seeing other walkers – I want to feel like it’s just me out there.

The thing I most appreciate about Britain’s countryside is the greenness. My parents have moved to Spain and while I love the heat when I visit them, I miss Britain and how lush it is. I also love how completely different areas of England look to each other.

The worst thing I’ve experienced in the great outdoors in Britain is falling over into mud – and then having ages to walk back.

I don’t understand the ‘cream or jam first on a scone’ debate. I split the scone in half and put cream on one side, jam on the other and then squash it together. I guess I would do the cream first?

To get away from it all, I go to Epping Forest, which is near where I live. It doesn’t feel as though you are in London. You can walk for ages.

If I had to choose between wellies and walking boots, I’d pick walking boots.

My choice of rural hero isn’t very original but it has to be David Attenborough, because he makes you feel so excited about the great outdoors and all its wildlife. He makes you want to take care of it.

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Ruby Bentall is an actress and has starred in BBC One’s Poldark