The Witches of Castle Clair

Castle Clair

The main setting for the Witches of Castle Clair is very much based on a fictionalised version of Knaresborough. There was absolutely no need for me to look elsewhere when planning these books. Knaresborough had it all! The ruined castle with its ravens, the legend of Old Mother Shipton, the shrine carved into the cliff, the river with its picturesque waterside walk, market place, the oldest chemist shop in England, cobbled streets, beautiful buildings…

Raven on the Castle Wall, Knaresborough - Simon Burchell
The Ruined Fortress (Knaresborough Castle) by Robert Lowe Flickr

Peloryon Island

Having been on holiday to Looe in Cornwall many times, I really wanted it to be the setting for Gerrenporth. Not only was it the perfect town for the story, but it had its own island sitting off the coast! Just what I needed. Looe Island, which is also known as St George’s Island, is roughly 22 acres, and at low tide you can just about walk over to it, but access is strictly by permission only as its now owned and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and preservation of the wildlife is priority. But luckily we have drone footage and visitor videos available – so even though I’ve never actually been to the island in person, I’ve had a good look around it via YouTube. I’ve also read the book, We Bought An Island, by Evelyn Atkins – one of the two sisters who previously owned it. When Evelyn died, her younger sister, Babs, was offered a small fortune to turn it into a theme park, but refused and, instead, bequeathed it to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.   

Drone shot of Looe (St George's Island) by Roberto La Rosa via Shutterstock

Gerrenporth

Gerrenporth was very much based on Looe. I’ve visited there several times over the years, and I call it My Happy Place, as whenever I see the harbour for the first time my heart lifts, and I feel as if I’m coming home. It really is a stunningly beautiful town on the south coast of Cornwall. I had a bit of a spooky experience there myself, which inspired a scene in Will of the Witch. As I was sitting on a bench looking across the harbour towards the main part of the town, I saw a handsome man standing on the harbour steps, leaning against the wall. He was dressed in casual clothes – jeans, what looked like a fisherman’s jersey, and a sea captain’s hat. I was just thinking how lovely he looked (with apologies to the husband) when a seagull flapped at me and distracted me for a second. When I looked back the man had vanished! I had a clear view of the surrounding area but he was nowhere to be seen. I thought, well, you’re going straight into the book. And he did!