The picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac is one of North Cornwall’s more popular ports. The village provides lovely walks along the coast due to its position in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its Heritage Coastal Area status.
The village port
From the Middle Ages until the middle of the C19th, Port Isaac was a busy port handling various imports and exports, including coal, timber, pottery and Delabole slate. In fact the name Port Isaac is derived from the Cornish Porth Izzick meaning the ‘corn port’.
After the advent of the railways, Port Isaac became principally a fishing port. As a result, today visitors can watch local fishermen landing their daily catch of fish, crab and lobsters in the harbour.
A stream runs through the village, finding its way into the sea over the harbour wall. Port Isaac’s harbour wall was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII. It is said that the completion of the pier allowed fishermen to sleep more soundly in their beds on stormy nights.
Things to do
While the tide is out it is worth taking a stroll towards the sea walls. On route you can explore small caves set into the cliffside. When you arrive at the wall take the ladder up onto the pier. From here you can admire the view out onto the Atlantic coast and back at the village.
When the tide is in however, a great way to experience the cove is by Kayak. Cornish Rock Tours offers a unique coasteering route along the beautiful coast line.
Walking down from the top of the hill through the small alley ways are a great way to explore the village. Home to one of the narrowest thoroughfares in Britain, hence named Squeezy Belly Alley!
A bite to eat
After building up an appetite make sure to pop into the C18th Golden Lion pub. It is full of original character and charm. The pub is also home of the ‘Bloody Bones Bar’ which boasts a smuggling tunnel leading to a causeway on the beach. It is also worth sitting on the terrace that has the best view of the harbour.
You can find small cafes, shops and restaurants on the descent to the village. Also you will be sure to find several bakeries selling the tradition and less traditional Cornish pasties. ‘May contain nuts’ is a small bakery that provides unique pasties in the village.
Film and TV location
Port Isaac boasts narrow winding streets lined with whitewashed cottages and traditional granite, slate-fronted Cornish houses, due to this it became a perfect location for film and tv productions.
The village is possibly best known as the fictional Portwenn from the ITV television series Doc Martin starring Martin Clunes. As a result there are plenty of locations in and around the village that feature in the series. Fern Cottage is easily accessible and is the most recognisable location. Even more the cottage provides impressive views of the port and the village.
The village provides Doc Martin tours for fans wanting to see the specific locations from the series. Locations include Port Gaverne the neighbouring cove just a 15 minute walk from Port Isaac.
Other films and series
Other notable films linked to Port Isaac include, the 2000 comedy thriller Saving Grace. The 1997 film Swept from the sea. Also, dating back even further the village hosted the television series of Poldark in the 1970s.