When is Port Isaac Not Port Isaac?

Port Isaac CornwallWay back at the start of our England adventures we were travelling around Cornwall. When planning the trip we’d realised that we’d be travelling near to Port Isaac, a fishing village on the west coast. It’s a typical Cornwall fishing village, but it’s also the location for the Doc Martin TV programme. We both enjoy watching the show although it’s fair to say that Wyn is the bigger fan. One of Wyn’s ancestors had come from Camelford and we stopped for two nights at St Teath, a couple of miles away. And Port Isaac is only a few more miles away from there. It was a nice morning and we decided to head to Port Isaac first, in case it got overrun by tourist crowds later on – it is a very small village.

We knew enough not to try to drive right down to the town and had a nice walk down from the car park. It is a lovely village with little lanes and alleyways. 

Port Isaac Cornwall

Port Isaac – fairly early in the morning

Port Isaac Cornwall

Port Isaac

Port Isaac Cornwall

We almost had the place to ourselves for a start

Port Isaac Cornwall

These are two-way streets for motor vehicles – much easier to walk

Port Isaac Cornwall

So many lovely little lanes

We’d come in search of the TV show locations and eventually found a sign pointing us in the direction of the house used as Doc Martins’.

Port Isaac Cornwall

Doc Martin’s ‘house’ is the small stone house in the middle of the picture

Doc Martin's house, Port Isaac

Doc Martin’s house – the little one

We weren’t exactly sure which one it was. There was another couple walking around nearby and Wyn asked the woman something like “Is this his house?” and the woman knew exactly what she was asking about and they agreed it was. She was from Canada. People come from far and wide to see Doc Martin’s village and house and everything else. It’s lovely.

Location for Doc Martin's house

Location for Doc Martin’s house located


Bert Large's restaurant location

Bert Large’s restaurant and across the harbour is the Port Wenn school where Louisa taught

Aunt Ruth's house location

Aunt Ruth’s house, with a NZ cabbage tree in front

We eventually found a map of the locations, which helped our searching around. And our wanderings revealed many lovely lanes around the village.

Port Isaac lane

Port Isaac lane and working phone box

Port Isaac lane

It’s like a film set, which it is, but it’s real.


Squeez-ee Belly Alley Port Isaac

Squeez-ee Belly Alley (and Duck-ee Head Alley?)

Lanes - Port Isaac

A proper sea-food restaurant

Port Isaac lane

You wonder if they’d be allowed to build so close these days. Or is it a better way of living?

Doorway Port Isaac

My fascination with the lanes extended to doorways and plumbing

Lane Port Isaac

One last lane picture. They fascinate me because of their difference to everything I know from New Zealand. I wonder what it’s like living there, getting stuff delivered …

Port Isaac is at pains to point out that it’s more than just a movie (‘Saving Grace’ 2003) and TV show set. It is, but it’s rather like a type-cast actor – it’s always going to be associated as the location for the Doc Martin programme. However, it’s still a working fishing village, which is its saving grace.

Fish market Port Isaac

Port Isaac fish market

Fish market Port Isaac

Behind the fish market. Can you smell the fish?

The fish market is on Fore Street. One thing I’ve learned is that where most towns have a High Street as the main street, some have a Market Street, and fishing villages have a Fore Street.

Port Isaac is a delightful village for many reasons. It is quaint and beautiful, it is idylic, and yet it remains real. It’s almost like it’s too small to spoil.

Port Isaac Cornwall

Port Isaac has not been spoiled by being famous – yet.

We could have wandered around for much longer. But the morning was getting on and the visitor numbers were increasing, so we reluctantly walked back up the hill and headed off in search of a castle.

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4 Responses to When is Port Isaac Not Port Isaac?

  1. gay dornbusch says:

    It looks so beautiful and unspoiled. Doc martin is one of my favourite shows so its great to see pics of the town. Wyn is looking great

    • Ross says:

      It is beautiful Gay, and relatively unspoiled I think. I’m not sure how they manage it, but maybe it’s because it is so small and constricted. Wyn was having a great time working out where things were.

  2. Anne Matravers says:

    Great stuff! Doc Martin is/was one of my all time favourite shows and it’s good to see that it was all filmed in that gorgeous wee place. When I was in England (some time ago) I went to see where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed, but much of it was in outlying areas so we only saw, from memory, the pub and Nora Batty’s house. Maybe the tearoom…

    • Ross says:

      Apparently Anne they even film all the inside scenes locally too, in a converted barn thereabouts. It’s all done in the off-season which seems rather sensible and considerate and English.
      I was hoping to get to see Nora Batty’s house and the tearooms; Holmfirth is north-east from here, and was on the list. But in the end it seemed a bit far, and can wait for another time.

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