The casual visitor to Port Isaac might be forgiven for thinking he has wandered onto a TV film-set, for this pretty Cornish village is also the Portwenn of the popular ITV series Doc Martin. Yes, you can park on the beach but watch out for the rising tide or you could see your car floating away as seen in the first episode of the Doc's adventures. That house high up the hill to the right does look rather like the Doc's surgery but actually it's "Fern Cottage", a private house so try not to disturb the occupants. The old school building on the cliffs to left may look exactly like schoolmarm Louisa's place of employment but in normal life it's just another hotel.
Long before it became a TV star, however, Port Isaac was a busy trading centre. Its Cornish name Porth Izzick (Corn Port) indicates it was once active in the corn trade, exporting the produce of the arable Cornish countryside. The pier was constructed in Tudor times to facilitate this trade and down the centuries all manner of goods have come and gone as coastal trading vessels visited the port.
Fishing was, of course, a prime occupation for the villagers and even today fishing boats continue to ply their trade bringing home their daily catch of fish, crab and lobsters. You won't find Bert Large's restaurant (thank goodness) but the village has some delightful pubs and eating places. I once enjoyed one of the best beer-battered fish and chips I've ever tasted at a cafe in the village centre.
A group of 10 local shanty-singers, the Fishermen's Friends, have recently become very popular and have performed in many parts, including the Royal Albert Hall.
Listen to Fishermen's Friends on Spotify
The rather quieter but equally quaint cove of Port Gavern lies just to the north-east while to the south west can be found the small hamlet of Port Quin. Port Quin is remembered for the great tragedy of 1698 when a terrible storm overwhelmed the entire fishing fleet at sea. None of the fishermen returned alive and their widows and children all moved to Port Isaac, leaving the village deserted.
On the north coast of Cornwall 10 miles from both Camelford and Wadebridge.
The Port Isaac lifeboat which is housed just across the road from the slipway (the Platt) is an impressive sight. The lifeboat station is manned 24/7, 365 days a year by local volunteers and provides a vital rescue service covering the whole of Cornwall's north coast.
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