Port Isaac

Our little fishing village

Port Isaac is a traditional fishing village with a vibrant local community in north Cornwall and home to the TV series Doc Martin starring Martin Clunes. It's a truly picturesque village with narrow winding streets lined with whitewashed cottages that head down to the harbour where you can watch local fishermen landing their daily catch of fish, crab and lobsters.


Port Isaac's pier was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII. A 1937 history said, "...Tudor pier and breakwater have now yielded to a strong new sea-wall balanced by an arm on the opposite side of the cove, and we do not doubt that the fishermen sleep more soundly in their beds on stormy nights." The village centre dates from the 18th and 19th centuries,  a time when its prosperity was tied to local coastal freight and fishing. The port handled cargoes of coal, wood, stone, ores, limestone, salt, pottery and heavy goods which were conveyed along its narrow streets. Small coastal sailing vessels were built below Roscarrock Hill. The pilchard fishery began here before the 16th century and in 1850 there were 49 registered fishing boats and four fish cellars. Fishermen still work from the Platt, landing their catches of fish, crab and lobsters. The historic core of the village was designated a Conservation Area in 1971 and North Cornwall District Council reviewed this in 2008 with the endorsement of a detailed Port Isaac Conservation Area Appraisal document and a related Conservation Area Management Plan. The village has around 90 Listed buildings (all Grade II).


Port Isaac is a picturesque fishing village on the north Cornwall coast. The village centres around the harbour, with a pier built during the reign of Henry VIII and augmented with a more modern sea wall. Most of the houses clustered near the harbour date to the 18th and 19th centuries, when the harbour was a busy centre for fishing and coastal transport.Port Isaac has a history as a base for pilchard fishing going back to at least the 16th century, though the port was in use as early as the Saxon period. Fishermen still unload their catches of crabs, fish, and lobsters at The Platt, a concreted area sloping down to the tidal harbour. The harbour was a centre for shipping timber, Delabole slate, and corn. In fact the name 'Port Isaac' has nothing to do with 'Isaac' but comes from the cornish 'Porth Izzick', meaning 'corn port'.The area surrounding the harbour was declared at Conservation Area in 1971, preserving it from modern development and protecting the 90 listed buildings near the harbour.

Doc Martin

Since 2004 Port Isaac has been the home of the popular Doc Martin television series, starring Martin Clunes. The series follows the life of Dr Martin Ellingham, a London surgeon who retreats to the fictional Cornish village of Portwenn to be a GP after he develops a fear of blood. In an interesting twist, the name of nearby Port Quin was originally Port Gwynn. The show revolves around Doc Martin's interactions with the people of Portwenn, who find him temperamental and overly direct to the point of being offensive.Most of the interior filming is done in a local barn, but part of the lasting appeal of the series is the beauty of Port Isaac itself, with its picturesque lanes and harbour. Viewers of the series will quickly recognise many of the village locations. Pedestrian signs lead you to 'Doc Martin's cottage', {actually used as his surgery} overlooking the harbour. The real name of the house is Fern Cottage and can be found on Roscarrock Hill. Port Isaac was also used a setting for the original Poldark television series and for the feature film 'Saving Grace', which first introduced the Doc Martin character. At the harbour is the RNLI inshore lifeboat station. There has been a lifeboat at Port Isaac since 1869. Also clustered around the harbour are several inns, galleries, craft shops, and cafes.

Fisherman's Friends

The village is home to a group of sea-shanty singers known as the Fishermen's Friends. The all male group have been performing since 1995, usually in a cappella style. Most of the group members grew up in Port Isaac and some are actually fishermen, lifeboatmen, or coastguards. The group have performed at various music festivals around the UK, including the Glastonbury Festival, but during the summer months they can often be heard performing on the beach in Port Isaac. Since they began the boys have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity. Visit their website here

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