Pretty Port Isaac – Porth Izzick in Cornish – is a popular, bustling little village, with a quaint but quintessential flavour of Cornwall’s past, in North Cornwall. Starting as a fishing village in the 14th century, it’s steeped in history and in the literal sense too, with plenty of narrow winding lanes.
A place that has to be seen to be believed, snake the narrow lanes down to the medieval harbour and slipway, passing a cluster of traditional cob and granite and slate-fronted houses, all sitting pretty. Squeezy Belly Alley is a lane that runs from Fore Street to Dolphin Street, tucked away in an enchanting maze of tiny passageways and higgledy-piggledy cottages.
Port Isaac and neighbouring Port Gaverne are both within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast Area, so there are some beautiful walks along the coast and further inland for you to enjoy.
Port Isaac has been put on the map by the hugely popular TV series, Doc Martin. Fictionally known as Portwenn, it’s now a well-known as a filming location.
The A30 is the dual carriageway from the M5 to Bodmin, with the Atlantic Highway A39 connecting Bude, Wadebridge and Padstow. Alternatively, opt for the A39 to Bude at Junction 27 on the M5 and then head out on the A39.
The nearest train station to Port Isaac is Bodmin Parkway, which is about 40 minutes away. A train journey from London Paddington Station is approximately four hours.
Unfortunately parking and Port Isaac don’t go well together due to its narrow streets. It is not recommended to drive down towards the beach unless absolutely necessary, but there are two car parks a short walk away.
The Main Car Park is on the righthand side as you enter the village on Trewetha Lane. There are 139 spaces, plus an additional 40 spaces in an overflow site. Prices start from £3 for 3 hours and up to £10 for 24 hours. It’s then a 10-minute walk to the harbour.
New Road Car Park is operated by Cornwall Council and has just shy of 100 spaces. It’s an easy walk to the harbour, which will take 5-10 minutes. In peak season parking cost 80p for an hour and £5.30 for 24 hours.
For a small village, Port Isaac really packs in some great places to eat and being a working harbour, it really knows how to do seafood! Support the Cornish fishing industry with a visit to Fresh From the Sea, which specialises in sustainable catches and crab and lobster cooked on the premises.
Expect traditional pubs too, The Slipway is as close to the beach as it gets, while The Golden Lion inn has wonderful harbour views and is packed with original features. If it’s fine dining you’re after, Nathan Outlaw has not one but two restaurants here, both boasting a Michelin star. Outlaw’s New Road features a set menu of local seafood and a commitment to sustainability. His second restaurant, Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, is a 15th-century fisherman’s cottage overlooking Port Isaac’s harbour and specialising in a menu of unique dishes using local fresh seafood. Or for a more casual dinner, check out The Angry Anchovy on New Road for its relaxed atmosphere and tasty handmade, thin crust pizzas.
For breakfast set yourself up for the day and head to The Mote on Fore Street for a full English of Cornish-sized portions. For something sweet, The Cornish Cove serves up delicious traditional cream teas, take them down to the harbour and enjoy with a view – a must when in Cornwall. It would be rude not to try another Cornish delicacy… the humble pasty. Drop by Nicky B’s Pasty Shop on Fore Street, there are plenty of options including gluten free and vegan too.
Nearby Port Gaverne also has a restaurant and cafe, making it a perfect spot for an afternoon of fun. Pilchards cafe serves a range of light bites and drinks, whilst the Port Gaverne Restaurant has a select menu of dishes, proudly made with the best locally sourced ingredients.
Pretty Port Isaac is a popular, bustling little village, with a quaint but quintessential flavour of Cornwall’s past, making it a great place to stay