Day 7. Doc Martin’s Port Isaac & Tintagel, Cornwall

Despite it being an overcast morning, my spirits were high as we started the day with a drive to the small fishing village of Port Isaac on Cornwall’s north coast.  We left our car in the main car park paying £3 for a three hour stay.  The car park is located 725 metres from the village centre but as it was down a steep hill it didn’t take very long to reach the pretty harbour.

Port Isaac harbour
The harbour at Port Isaac

I’d never visited Port Isaac before but recognised the quaint little harbour immediately as the village is the fictional village of Portwenn in the BBC television comedy Doc Martin.  The popular series stars Martin Clunes as the grumpy Doctor Ellingham along with his wife Louisa (Caroline Catz) and their adorable pet dog, the Westie/ Jack Russell cross, Buster.  It’s one of my favourite programmes and I was so excited to be able to explore some of the filming locations.

View of Doc Martin's surgery from Port Isaac harbour
View of Doc Martin’s surgery from Port Isaac harbour

From the harbour we caught our first glimpse of Doctor Ellingham’s surgery on the hilltop and just below it we also spotted the restaurant run by Bert Large.  The TV programme has certainly put Port Isaac firmly on the tourist map and, although not crowded, there were plenty of people enjoying a stroll through the pretty village with its exceedingly narrow streets and rows of whitewashed fishermen’s cottages.

Dr. Ellingham's surgery in Port Isaac, Cornwall
The house that doubles as Dr. Ellingham’s surgery

We wandered up Roscarrock Hill from where there were some lovely views back down to the harbour.  The main reason for climbing this steep hill was to be able to stand in front of the doctor’s surgery which from the exterior  looked just the same as on the programme.  In real life it’s actually a holiday let called Fern Cottage where visitors to the village can stay when filming isn’t taking place.  I’m sure their bookings must have increased dramatically since the programme first aired in 2004.

Mrs. Tishall's chemist's shop in Port Isaac
The confectioners used as Mrs. Tishall’s chemist’s shop

Back in the village centre we easily recognised Buttermilk Confections as it doubles as Mrs Tishall’s chemist’s shop.  This small shop is the only actual interior used for filming as all the others are shot in studios located at Roscarrock Manor Farm on the edge of the village.  The main sets have been constructed in agricultural barns and include the surgery, police station and Bert Large’s kitchen.

The old school house where Louisa Glasson taught in Doc Martin
The old school house where Louisa Glasson taught in episodes of Doc Martin

Continuing our stroll we recognised the village school and The Golden Lion pub overlooking the harbour.  This pub is also a regular filming location where its name becomes the Crab and Lobster.

The Crab & Lobster pub aka The Golden Lion in Port Isaac
The Golden Lion pub, known as the Crab & Lobster in the TV drama

Leaving the TV programme aside, Port Isaac is a very attractive village and definitely worth visiting whether you’re a fan of the drama or not and a lovely place for a walk.

The South West Coast Path near Port Isaac
The South West Coast Path near Port Isaac

We followed the South West Coast Path along the cliff top to the neighbouring village of Port Gaverne which lies in a sheltered inlet and has a small beach.  It was a pleasant but hilly walk as the path undulates considerably.

Port Gaverne, Cornwall
Port Gaverne

It was around midday by the time we returned to the car and the large car park which was almost deserted when we arrived was nearly full, so it’s probably a good idea to arrive in Port Isaac early in the day to be assured of finding somewhere to park.

The Camel Trail, Wadebridge, Cornwall
Wadebridge is the centre of The Camel Trail cycle route

Setting off again, our next destination was Wadebridge, 10 miles away.  It’s one of Cornwall’s main market towns and the gateway to the Camel Trail.  Before you get any ideas of desert camels, the name has no connection with the humped animal but is derived from the Cornish for ‘elbow’ as the River Camel is of an elbow shape.

Wadebridge, the hub of The Camel Trail cycle route
Wadebridge , the hub of The Camel Trail

The trail was created on 11 miles of disused railway that ran along the valley beside the river.  Wadebridge is the centre of the trail with links in either direction to Padstow and Bodmin.  It’s a mostly level route and very popular with cyclists and walkers.

15th century arched bridge, Wadebridge, Cornwall
The 15th century arched bridge

The town has an impressive 15th century bridge with 17 arches crossing the River Camel close to Molesworth Street, the town’s main shopping thoroughfare.  Along here we found numerous craft shops, pubs, cafes and galleries intermingled with the usual household names.

The Molesworth Arms, Wadebridge
The Molesworth Arms along the high street

We were ready for some lunch and the Cornish pasties we spotted in the window of bakers Malcolm Barnecutt tempted us in.  We’d been in Cornwall an entire week but were still to sample the pasty which has long been part of the local cultural heritage.  It is believed to have originated with Cornish tin miners who, unable to return to the surface at lunchtime, could still enjoy a hand held hearty meal.

Malcolm Barnecutt Cornish Pasty shop, Wadebridge
The bakery selling delicious Cornish pasties

Our own traditional Cornish pasties were delicious, containing diced beef, potato, swede and onion encased in shortcrust pastry with crimped edges.  They were not a bit like the inedible, fatty pasties to be found in fast food outlets up and down the country.  Followed up with a cappuccino each, it was a very filling and tasty lunch.

Tintagel, Cornwall
Tintagel village

Feeling re-energised after our brief lunch stop, it was back to the car for the short drive to Tintagel.  Our SatNav decided to send us along some very winding, narrow lanes with just the occasional passing place so some careful reversing proved necessary before we made it to Tintagel.  The name Tintagel is synonymous of where history meets legend, with the ruins of a medieval castle entwined with the mythical stories of King Arthur.  A few centuries later Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poems revived the interests of Arthur once again with his Knights of the Round Table.

The path leading to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
The path towards Tintagel Castle

We managed to find a parking space in King Arthur’s car park (£3 for four hours) which was close to the village centre.  From there, we followed a path taking around 10 minutes to reach the medieval gateway entrance to the ruins of Tintagel Castle.  The castle estate is managed by English Heritage with standard adult admission £16 or free for English Heritage members.

The bridge connecting the two sides of Tintagel Castle
The impressive new bridge that takes visitors over to the island

Both the village and its castle are set high on a cliff top with stunning coastal views.  The castle is approached by a 68 metre bridge over a spectacular rocky chasm that separates the two halves of the 13th century castle.

View of the new bridge at Tintagel
View from the island of the impressive new bridge

Having crossed the bridge we’d reached the island which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and contains the remains of the medieval walled garden and the castle.

Ruins of Tintagel Castle Cornwall
Remains of the medieval castle

There’s very little of the castle still standing, with the best preserved sections being the Great Hall with its arched doorway and slit windows.  Useful information boards guide visitors through the site, documenting the castle’s history and the significance of the ruins.

Exploring the ruins of Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
Exploring the castle ruins

With its exposed windswept position, the grassy headland is an ideal place for bird watching and to look down at huge waves crashing against the rugged coast.  After exploring the cliff top we followed a one way system down several flights of steps leading towards the beach.

The dramatic coastline at Tintagel, Cornwall
Breathtaking views of the rugged coast

Getting onto the beach itself isn’t easy as it requires some scrambling over rocks to reach the sandy cove.  It’s worth noting that visitors are able to access the beach without needing to purchase a castle ticket.  At one corner of the small bay is the cave where the legendary Merlin is believed to have lived and it is interesting to explore at low tide.  There’s also an impressive waterfall cascading down onto the beach which is popular for children to play beneath.

Tintagel beach, Cornwall
The small beach at Tintagel

We then followed the path back up to the cafe and gift shop before climbing the hill back to the village centre.  A shuttle bus service operates up and down this road to assist those with mobility problems (fee payable).  The small village is mostly given over to tourism with its numerous gift shops, pubs and cafes but this is only to be expected with its position on the doorstep of a famous castle.

Merlin's Cave, Tintagel, Cornwall
Merlin’s Cave, Tintagel, Cornwall

Driving back to the hotel we tried to avoid taking the same narrow roads we’d arrived on and after safely getting back to Bodmin we relaxed over cups of tea reflecting on what a fun filled day we’d just had.

Waterfall at Merlin's Cave, Tintagel, Cornwall
Waterfall at Merlin’s Cave, Tintagel, Cornwall


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Port Issac & Tintagel



78 thoughts on “Day 7. Doc Martin’s Port Isaac & Tintagel, Cornwall

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    Looks like you had another wonderful day. It’s cool that you were able to retrace the footsteps of one of your favourite shows! The area around Tintagel castle looks gorgeous too! Another place I’ll have to add to my list, I’m sure Arthur and Merlin had some great times down there 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, You did a great job covering so many aspects of your trip to Cornwall, including the photographs. Many years ago, we also made many, joyous trips to Devon and Cornwall, especially Salcombe, Devon and Corfe Castle, St. Michael’s Mount and Newquay and surrounds. Our three lads loved it all. Super memories. Thank you for reading the piece on my corner of Spain. Happy and safe travel! Best wishes. Joy xx.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Another post that has me pining for home. Actually, I’m considering an extended UK visit with Sladja in September. So many things for her to see and try, including a Cornish pastie! I have no problem believing the pasties at Malcom Barnecutt’s are a cut above those found elsewhere around the country. Have never seen Doc Martin, but Martin Clunes suddenly had me remembering Men Behaving Badly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Day 9. The Eden Project, Mevagissey & Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall – Love Travelling Blog

  5. What a lovely little place! The weather might not have been the most ideal, but I’d say there’s still that beautiful, English charm to the town. The 15th-century arched bridge looks solid and put-together, all the while the green cliffs in the distance could definitely inspire poetry in the most non-poetic person. It’s no wonder that many TV programs and films have used the place as a backdrop! Thanks for sharing your adventures in Cornwall; I look forward to more soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Day 7. Doc Martin’s Port Isaac & Tintagel, Cornwall – © blogfactory

  7. Loving your tour of Cornwall. Wadebridge and Port Isaac bring back so many memories of family holidays but never been to Tintagel and it looks great. Love that new bridge and the castle ruins. Feels like somewhere we would love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So pleased to read that you are enjoying my Cornish series of posts Jonno. Each day we found interesting places to visit coupled with delightful coastal walks. The new bridge at Tintagel is very impressive and blends in with the environment so well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oooooh, I am so jealous. Port Isaac looks picture perfect, just as it does on Doc Martin as Portwenn. I do hope they manage to film the final season soon. I miss this show. And Tintagel looks even more beautiful and rugged than it did when we visited in 1977. We must return to visit this part of the world. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a picturesque little village. I love how some of the roofs have moss and are blending in with the surrounding hill. It’s always neat to go to a place that has been used for filming and see the actual buildings and other areas in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such beautiful pictures! I have loved following along on your tour of Cornwall and always look forward to your next post! (and now I’ve started watching Doc Martin because if this is where it is filmed then it is definitely a show I want to watch) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I am enjoying it as well. I think they have cast it extremely well and hope it won’t be too long until we see series two. I I remember watching it the first time around too and enjoyed it then also. Please let me know of anything else you come across I might like. I’ve just watched The Bay set in Morecambe which I enjoyed very much too. I’m also watching The Durrell’s as I didn’t see it when it originally aired! M.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, The Bay was very good. Isn’t that Bert Large’s son as the returning husband. We’re watching a good Irish series at the moment, Smother, set in the surfin’ town of Lahinch, Co. Clare. Looking good so far. Looking forward to seeing David Tennant in something. Himself and Sheen were great gas in Staged, the lockdown/zoom series of the hell we’re living through. Roll on the real world of TV fiction!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. That’s right Shane, Lisa’s estranged husband was the same person who played Al Large. Thanks for the tips, I’ll look out for Smother as I don’t think it’s available here yet. I’m also an avid listener of The Archers and wish they’d get back to six episodes a week! Have a good weekend and roll on the longer days! Marion

              Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful day you had! Of course I was very happy that you’ve visited Doc Martin’s little town – I’ve recognised most of the places from the TV series.
    We love bridges – must be from our long walks on the Camino’s in Spain and Portugal – and your picture of the 15th century bridge in Wadebridge is lovely. And what a stunning walk to the medieval castle and waterfall on the beach … yes, this is probably one of my highlight days of your Cornwall tour 😁.
    Oh yes … I was hoping to get a glimpse of that delicious Cornish pasties … 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It really was a splendid day starting with our visit to Port Isaac and following in Doc Martin’s footsteps. Wadebridge was pleasant too and then our walk at Tintagel made it all the more special. Thanks so much for continuing to support my blog and for your much appreciated thoughts. Hope your week goes well, Marion

      Liked by 1 person

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