Port Isaac on the North Cornish coast is halfway between Polzeath and Tintagel. The nearest towns are Wadebridge and Camelford. Much of the coastline and countryside surrounding Port Isaac is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coastline. Consequently, there are stunning walks following the South West Coast Path from here eastwards towards Port Quin and Polzeath and westwards towards Trebarwith Strand and Tintagel.
If you want a different view of the coastline there are sightseeing and fishing trips that run from the harbour during summer.
OS Explorer 106 Map. The Explorer 106 Ordnance Survey map covers this area of Cornwall The map displays the area of Newquay, Padstow, and Port Issac, down to St Austel. With this map, you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The Explorer Map is available in both the standard paper version and weatherproof ‘Active’ version.
Port Isaac has been a fishing village since the 14th-Century. Many of the traditional Cornish houses and white-washed cottages that line the narrow streets are listed as of historic or architectural importance.
Up until the middle of the 19th Century, the village was a busy port handling pottery, coal, timber, and slate. When the railways reached Cornwall it became a fishing port. Boats still land fish today, although tourism now plays an ever-increasing role in the village.
The village is sandwiched between two steep cliff walls. In recent years it has become famous thanks to its appearance in the 1970’s TV series Poldark and since 2004 the Doc Martin programmes. In the series, featuring Martin Clunes, the village goes under the name of Port Wenn. If you are a fan of the programme, you’ll no doubt want to see Fern Cottage on Roscarrock Hill. This is used as the surgery in the series.
In 2000 the comedy thriller Saving Grace was filmed in the village as was Swept from the Sea in 1997. Fore Street featured in some scenes from the recent TV adaptation of The Shell Seekers starring Vanessa Redgrave.
As a result, Port Isaac is often busy with daytrippers who’ve come to enjoy its granite, slate and whitewashed cottages, tumbling down to a largely unspoilt seafront. The old central part of the village is full of 18th and 19th-century cottages, accessed along narrow alleys and ‘opes’ (Cornish for alleyway) which wind down the steep hillsides.
Port Isaac is full of small independent shops and some excellent galleries as well as lots of charming cafes. There are also plenty of places along the main street where you can buy food if you fancy sitting by the harbour or on the beach to eat your lunch.
At low tide, there is a pebbly beach with rock pools.
The pier in the harbour dates from the time of Henry VII.
Port Isaac has one of the narrowest alleyways in Britain, Squeezy Belly Alley, this runs from the Platt at the edge of the harbour away from the seafront (search the Google map if you want to see where it is).
Visiting Port Isaac
Port Isaac is midway between Polzeath and Tintagel. There are two bus services that run through the village, service 10 between Launceston, Camelford, Delabole, Port Isaac, Polzeath, Rock, Wadebridge, Bodmin and Bodmin Parkway and service 95 that runs between Bude, Boscastle, Tintagel, Camelford, St Kew Highway and Wadebridge. Go Cornwall Bus operate both these services.
If you are travelling to Port Isaac by car, note that the narrow streets are very difficult to negotiate in a vehicle and it’s best to use the large car park at the top of the hill (St Endillion PL29 3SG) and walk down to the village. The car park has some stunning views of the coastline.
As well as being only a short distance from Port Isaac, Port Gaverne is only a short walk from the car park. If it’s a busy day (it often is) and the car park is full there is an alternative car park at PL29 3TR.
Make no mistake Port Isaac is hugely popular and can be very crowded. Despite this, it has a very welcoming atmosphere and distinctive character that you’ll only find in Cornwall. If you feel the need for some peace and quiet then take a short walk to Port Gaverne.
Half a mile away along the South West Coast Path is the small village of Port Gaverne (pronounced Gayverne). This sits in a small unspoilt cove with a pebble and sand beach and it’s much quieter than its neighbour.
In the 19th-Century, the village was a port handling slate, coal and limestone. Some of the old buildings on the quay survive, these are now available as holiday accommodation. The cove also has a 17th-Century inn that offers food and accommodation.
The water here is crystal clear and the beach is very clean and shallow which makes it ideal for children. Dogs are allowed all year round.
holidaycottages.co.uk help people find their perfect cottage in popular holiday destinations across the whole of the UK. Dog-friendly cottages, farmhouses or apartments, they have something to suit all budgets and requirements. Find your perfect holiday cottage in Cornwall here.
Want to save this article for later? Pin the image below!