Cornwall’s most iconic fishing village is so much more than just a filming location!
The picturesque village of Port Isaac is famous as the location for the ITV drama series, Doc Martin, a comedy drama starring Martin Clunes. It also featured in BBC’s recent adaptation of Poldark, so don’t be surprised if the narrow streets and fisherman’s cottages look a little familiar!
However, look beyond the famous fictitious inhabitants and you’ll find a thriving and busy little village, surrounding by rugged coastline and packed with great amenities – particularly for fans of Cornish food and drink. For those who like the hustle and bustle (and economic opportunities) of a village popular with visitors, and an active social life, moving to Port Isaac is a win-win!
The tiny hamlet of Port Gaverne – all but connected to Port Isaac itself – is a pretty and peaceful cove which was once a slate, coal and limestone handling port in the 19th Century. Port Gaverne is a sought-after location for house hunters, having one foot in Port Isaac and the other in the wild and undeveloped stretch of coast to the north.
A few miles to the west of Port Isaac is Port Quin. Now owned by the National Trust, this quiet little spot is a paradise for coasteering, canoeing and sea kayaking, and perfect for those who prefer to encounter nature rather than crowds.
Location and transport links
Bodmin Parkway Railway Station is the nearest train station to Port Isaac and is about 40 minutes away. From here trains reach London Paddington with no changes in approx. 5hrs.
Newquay Airport is just 35mins away from Port Isaac, with routes connecting Cornwall with London and other major UK cities, plus some European destinations.
The village is served by regular buses that run between Camelford and Wadebridge via Port Isaac, Polzeath and Rock.
Port Isaac is about 15mins off the A39, North Cornwall’s major trunk road.
Places to eat and drink
For such a small place, Port Isaac has a plethora of great places to eat and drink. There is something to satisfy every occasion, from cream teas and crab sandwiches right up to Michelin Star dining; not bad for a village with a population of less than 800!
An added bonus is that many of these establishments boast either atmospheric old interior or stunning views, so come rain or shine you’re likely to find the perfect spot…
- The Golden Lion is the ultimate cosy pub with wooden floors, crackling fires and sunset views over the harbour. It’s so atmospheric we challenge you not to lose yourself here for hours on end!
- At Port Gaverne Restaurant & Hotel you’ll find high-quality food prepared with love and care by an experienced team. Expect the freshest ingredients from Cornwall’s bountiful coast.
- Next to the pub you’ll find a new venture, Pilchards Cafe. This casual eatery is great for snacks and platters to share amongst friends. Fish and shellfish is a speciality.
- Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is Nathan Outlaw’s Michelin-starred village outpost. This tiny restaurants occupies a 15th-century fisherman’s cottage overlooking the harbour and serves delectable small plates of the finest Cornish seafood imaginable.
- In Summer 2020 Nathan relaunched his flagship operation, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, which became Outlaw’s New Road. With a more casual ethos it promises a relaxed, intimate dining experience and we’ve no doubt the food will be great, minus the two-Michelin-star pomp and ceremony!
- The Stargazey Inn is a ‘destination restaurant with rooms’ overlooking the rugged North Cornwall coast. Expect an intimate dining experience with attentive service, and a tasting menu showcasing the finest local produce. You can also visit for drinks and to try the bar menu.
- The Old School Hotel & Restaurant is a fantastic dining option (dine in style in the old school hall!) on the road down to the harbour. Lunch and dinner menus showcase the best ingredients from land and sea, and delicious Cornish cream teas are available throughout the day.
Port Isaac has its own Primary School and Wadebridge Secondary School (just six miles away) has above-average GCSE results.
There is a small Doctors Surgery situated on top of the hill heading down into the village. Here you’ll also find a well-stocked Co-op store, but for a larger selection of supermarkets you’ll need to head over to Wadebridge. This fantastic little town offers a great shopping experience, including lots of independent artisan stores and boutiques.
Its’s unlikely you’ll ever get bored of a stroll around Port Issac. Visit one of the narrowest alleyways in Britain (the aptly- named Squeezy Belly Alley, located just off the Platt at the edge of the harbour), or take a boat trip or a fishing expedition from the harbour during the summer.
Don’t miss Fisherman’s Friends – a male singing group from Port Isaac, who sing sea shanties in the centre of the village. They have been performing locally since 1995, and signed a record deal with Universal Music in March 2010.
At low tide Port Gaverne boasts a sheltered, sandy beach with an abundance of rock pools. It’s a great spot for small children to explore safely. Walkers and kayakers will particularly enjoy the area with so much to explore, and the Camel Trail is a great route for cyclists of all abilities. Bodmin Moor is also right on your doorstep, with loads of incredible walking and cycling routes waiting to be discovered.
This whole stretch of the North Coast (including Tintagel and Boscastle) has a fascinating history. The National Trust has several museums and properties in the area, and Lanhydrock is within easy distance for days out.
To the prospective home buyer, the heart of Port Isaac offers beautiful 18th Century whitewashed and slate hung fisherman’s cottages. Many also have delightful small gardens or are set in pretty courtyards.
However attractive they are, these properties may not suit larger families or those preferring good vehicle access. If a little more space and lower foot-traffic past your door sounds appealing, then look to the 19th and 20th Century Victorian terraces further up the hill. These clifftop retreats often have stunning views of the coastline.
Further out of town again and you’ll find countryside pads offering the best of both worlds; proximity to the delights of Port Isaac with your own private slice of Cornish peace and quiet.
Why we love Port Isaac
- Foodies will be in their element in Port Isaac, right from the cream teas and crab sandwiches to Michelin-starred dining experiences.
- Summer evenings listening to the Fisherman’s Friends singing on The Platt, followed by a pint in The Golden Lion overlooking the harbour.
- Walking at Port Quin. Protected and cared for by the National Trust, this is an unspoilt and stunning section of the North Cornish coast.
- A stroll to Port Gaverne, an hour or two exploring the beach and rock pools, followed by lunch at Pilchards Cafe – bliss!
- Proximity to Wadebridge. At Port Isaac you get all the benefits of a small village community, with a thriving town on the doorstep.
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