Port Isaac

September 24, 2014

Now we were finished in Penzance and moving on today. We packed our bags and headed for the train station, where we bought all-day passes valid on trains and buses for £10 each. We thought that was a good price considering the distance we would be travelling. Then we caught the 10 am train and were on our way to Port Isaac.

After an hour or so we arrived at Bodmin Parkway, where we changed to bus number 555 to Wadebridge. Travelling with us on the bus were a musician dressed as a pirate, who was going busking in Padstow, and an American tourist who was struggling with the Cornish bus system. In Wadebridge our next bus, number 584, would take us to Port Isaac. His bus, number 595, was supposed to take him to Tintagel, his destination. That’s what the map and the website said, but nobody in Wadebridge knew anything about the 595. Not even the bus driver. So he got onto our bus heading for Camelford in hopes of finding his 595 there.

Steam railway at Bodmin Parkway

Steam railway at Bodmin Parkway

These buses were small community-style vehicles, so climbing on and off with packs was a bit tricky if the bus was full. And the bus was quite full. Our route to Port Isaac was a bit circuitous, but it did show off the countryside to its full advantage. Arriving in Port Isaac we got off at the Pea Pod stop. We were not expected at our B&B until closer to 4 pm, so we walked down the hill towards the village. Port Isaac isn’t just any quaint Cornish fishing village; it’s also the setting for the British TV series “Doc Martin”. So there were a lot of people in the streets. We sat down on a bench outside “May Contain Nuts”, where we bought smoothies and fruit scones for our lunch.

As we sat there we could recognize several buildings which were used as places in the TV series. There was the school and the steep spire which was used in one episode and across the bay was Fern Cottage, which was the doctor’s house in the series.

Fern Cottage

Fern Cottage

After finishing our lunch we decided to walk back up the hill and find our B&B, Penderris House, so we could leave our packs there. We were at least two hours early but we figured that if our hostess Nancy wasn’t there, we would just leave our packs by the door. Luckily she was home, and our room was nearly ready, so we were able to put our packs directly into the room.

Then we headed back down the steep hill into the village, looking at the shops as we went. At the bottom of the hill we found the pharmacy where Mrs. Tischell works in the series as well as Bert Large’s restaurant, and then climbing up the hill came to the house which is Doc Martin’s surgery. Past that we continued up to the Coastal Path to look at the views. When we had first arrived the tide was a long way out and the fishing boats were grounded, but as the afternoon progressed the tide came in quickly. We had a very pleasant short walk but decided to head back to the village to buy some pasties for our dinner.

Port Isaac

Port Isaac

It was late afternoon so we returned to the B&B and went up to our room. After catching up with e-mail and checking bus schedules for later in the week we went back downstairs. Nancy kindly heated up our pasties in her halogen oven, a device we had never heard of before. Rosemary’s pasty was chicken and bacon and Paul’s was steak and blue cheese, an interesting combination.

Nelson in neck brace

Nelson in neck brace

After dinner we went out for a walk up to Lobber Point to see the sunset, which happens at about 7 pm at this time of year. However the sun set behind some clouds and also behind the next headland along, so it wasn’t that good. Back in the village the sweet shop was just closing, so we were out of luck for some fudge for dessert. We followed a different street up from the harbour, and it led to a public footpath which followed a small stream up past the sewage treatment plant. The footpath carried on, showing no sign of returning to the village, so we turned around and went back. A different hill, Primrose Lane, led us up to the main road across from the Coop, just around from our B&B.

September 25, 2014

This morning we had asked for breakfast at 8:30 am, so we didn’t have to get up very early. Full English breakfast served in the sun-room was a good start to the day. We headed down into the village, down to the beach and onto the sand where we looked at the beach debris. Nothing interesting to see there; we went back up the hill for our 10:30 am walking tour of Port Isaac with John Brown.

Port Isaac lane

Port Isaac lane

John used to be a fisherman but now wore many hats, including musician, volunteer life boat crew, tour guide, and pastry shop server. Our tour had maybe a dozen people signed up, and he had another tour scheduled for this afternoon, so at £10 a head he seemed to be doing quite well. The tour took about an hour and a half and covered all sorts of things including the history of the village, the ups and downs of the fisheries, and most importantly everything about the filming of the Doc Martin series. It was an interesting tour walking around the village, and he pointed out the various Doc Martin locations and told us some funny anecdotes about the filming of the show.

Wall ornament

Wall ornament

It was now noon, so we had a quick lunch of sausage rolls, rock buns, and bread pudding before continuing on. At one of the local shops we bought a lovely watercolour of the village with a fishing boat and Fern Cottage (Doc Martin’s house) in the background. Back at the B&B we changed into hiking clothes and set out for a walk. Our intention was to walk along the coastal path towards Polzeath and then catch a bus back to Port Isaac. Heading west the path went up and down some stairways with excessively large steps, so we had to be careful not to stress our knees on the descents. There were several ups and downs before we reached Port Quin.

Coastal path

Coastal path

By now it was 3 pm, so we sat on a bench enjoying the view which included Doyden Castle, a folly which featured Mrs. Tischell hiding there with Doc Martin’s baby when she was delusional. We still weren’t quite in the hiking mood so we decided that rather than walking another two hours to Polzeath we would return to Port Isaac via the overland route. This went through farm fields with no great elevation changes, so we were back in the village in no time at all.

Doyden Castle

Doyden Castle

In the village we stopped to get pasties and jelly doughnuts for dinner, as well as a tea-towel which was much less artistic than the ones at the bottom of the village but also cost much less than £10. At our B&B the two American ladies who had been there last night were there again, and then two English ladies arrived, having walked part of the coastal path.

Red poppy

Red poppy

Tomorrow we’ll be reorganizing our packs for the walk to Tintagel; everybody says it’s a hard walk but it’s only 15 kilometres so we’ll see.

Next: Tintagel

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