Port Isaac CornwallSkip to main navigation list
The picturesque village of Port Isaac Cornwall (or Port Wenn as it is fictionally known) is a lovely harbour village to visit. The main part of the village and harbour is set at the bottom of a steep valley and the narrow streets edged with galleries, eateries and pretty cottages twist their way down to the pretty harbour where boats can be seen bobbing in the waves. There is a small harbour beach in the centre of Port Isaac which is pretty to look at but nearby beaches are better for a beach day out. View images of Port Isaac.
Port Isaac Cornwall is a nice place to visit for a few hours if you are nearby or would make a handy base to see the surrounding area of North Cornwall. It is a pretty village for a walk round and maybe for some lunch or a coffee, there are plenty of places to eat or drink in Port Isaac (for more information see our list of places to eat in Port Isaac). Port Isaac has a number or galleries selling local art and crafts and gift shops (for more information see our list of Galleries in Port Isaac). For those who enjoy walking there is good walking nearby on the Cornish coast path which leads from Port Isaac on the cliffs to the east and west. Port Isaac is small but there is still a choice of accommodation in Port Isaac (for more information view our list of Accommodation in Port Isaac Cornwall).
Port Isaac developed as a pilchard fishery from mediaeval times and once had the second largest pilchard fishery on the north coast and then trade grew around the shipping of slate. The name Port Isaac means corn port. Today the twisting and winding streets of Port Isaac are popular with tourists and loved by artists and walkers. The setting for the well known TV drama Doc Martin where the grumpy Doc Martin runs his doctors practice and subjects his patients to his quick temperedness, Port Isaac or Port Wenn as it is known in the series, is one of the most well known villages in Cornwall.
The popularity of Port Isaac means it can be very busy in the summer months and it is difficult to drive into the village by car and there is very limited parking in the village. Usually you have to use the car park at the top of the village and make the steep climb down into Port Isaac Cornwall and steeper climb back to the car.
Port Isaac is steeped in history. It has quaint narrow streets lined with pretty granite cottages. The alley known as Temple Bar is particularly narrow and was recorded in the Guiness Book of Records in 1978 as the world's narrowest thoroughfare. At the narrowest point Temple Bar is only 18 inches wide. The more recent title of Squeeze-ee-belly Alley was given to the alley in the 1950s reportedly after this was the advice given to a plump lady trying to get through.
The Old Lifeboat House in Port Isaac Cornwall was built in 1869 to house the first Port Isaac lifeboat. The boat was run down the street on an iron carriage, a strong man guiding it and 20-30 men with ropes taking the strain from behind, launching the boat took 3 minutes. In 1933 the station was closed. The village acquired an inflatable inshore lifeboat in 1966 which is now housed in the new lifeboat house opposite the slipway by the harbour. You can see the lifeboat in the Lifeboat station if the station is open.
The Old Primary School in Port Isaac was the village school until 1976. It was designed in 1877 by the Cornish architect Sylvanus Trevail who won a prize for it in a Chicago exhibition.
Port Isaac Cornwall is a good base to see surrounding Cornwall as there are plenty of glorious Cornish beaches nearby if you want to head for the beach and there is good access to the Coast Path in both directions. Rumps Point being 5 1/4 miles, Port Quin 3 miles and Port Gaverne half a mile.
View Port Isaac Cornwall in a larger map