Cornwall is rightly famous for its beautiful coves and natural harbours and Port Isaac (Cornish: Porthysek) is one of the best. The first harbour pier, to protect against the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, was built during the reign of Henry VIII but this has since been replaced by a much stronger stone sea wall with a matching structure on the opposite side of the cove. Port Isaac was originally a fishing village with an economy based on pilchards and records show that during the 16th century there were already four fish cellars being supplied by a fleet of 49 boats. The village flourished during the 18th and 19th centuries when demand for local goods such as tin, wood, building stone, limestone, salt and pottery were much in demand. Today there are fewer boats and although crab and lobster fishing continues, the heady days of shipping valuable goods from this little harbour have come and gone.
Port Isaac may no longer be a trading hotspot but it has certainly reinvented itself a wonderful place to visit where people can still get a sense of what is was like to live here hundreds of years ago.
The village used to have its own railway line which brought passengers to the station at Port Isaac Road. However, his service was discontinued in 1996. There are two large car parks on the outskirts of the village.
The picturesque appearance of the cove and village has regularly appealed to film and television producers and particularly the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Productions filmed in and around the village include Poldark (1975-77), Old Spooky Man (1978), The Nightmare Man drama series (1981), the film – Oscar and Lucinda (1997), the comedy film Saving Grace (2000) and the exceptionally popular TV series Doc Martin which started filming in 2004 and is still ongoing. It was also used as the setting for Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers (2005). It may well be the most filmed village and cove in the UK.
Every cove in Cornwall has its tales of smugglers, wreckers and pirates but it seems that Port Isaac was a favourite of ‘Cruel Coppinger’ who was both smuggler and pirate and terrorised the region towards the end of the 18th century. According to some legends, Port Isaac was one of his bases. Lending credence to this tale is the existence of a smuggling tunnel which leads from ‘Bloody Bones Bar’ down to the beach. The ghost of revenue man decapitated by Coppinger’s gang is said to still haunt the cliffs looking for vengeance.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
A39 (Rd), Gillards Moor, St Gennys, Bude
Cornwall, England, EX23 0BG
+44 (0)1840 230 650
- Address: Fore Street, Port Isaac, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, PL29 3RD
- GPS: 50.592525,-4.831763889
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: PL29 3RD
- Entrance Fees: Free access to Village / Parking fees apply
- Disabled Access: Good but with steep hills
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Header Image: Frank Fischbach