Every time I drive down to Cornwall I eye the signposts to Port Isaac and think about stopping off. I love the ITV series Doc Martin with Martin Clunes, and I’ve been promising myself I’d take some time to wander those sloping cobbled streets and experience the setting for the fictional Portwenn. So, last weekend, as I trundled my way back from a weekend with family in Padstow, I turned off and started the short detour to the pretty little fishing village that’s found fame.
I turned from the A39 onto the B3267 and started to feel excited. Doc Martin’s one of those programmes that always seems to be on, and the unspoilt scenery that shines as its backdrop always makes me feel happy to live in the South West. Now, those narrow village streets may be so quaint it hurts, but as I neared the village I decided there was no way I’d be driving down (or up) them, so I played it safe and parked in the main car park around ten minutes from the harbourside.
I hopped out of the car and followed the sign to the harbourside. An elderly gent walked towards me smiling cheerfully, “am I heading towards the harbour?” I checked as he neared me, he smiled broadly and answered through happy chuckles, “course you are darling, you can’t miss it!”. Faith restored in my navigational skills, I ambled on, greeting fellow visitors with cameras round their necks as they made their way past me heading back to their cars.
There’s a lot of talk about the residents of Port Isaac being a little fed up with all the attention from Doc Martin enthusiasts, but the whole atmosphere throughout the village was nothing but friendly. I followed the steeply sloping lane down to the harbour, and when I reached the harbour wall at the bottom I stopped for a minute and watched the set for Doc Martin come to life before me.
The doc’s house sat quietly across the water on the hillside, gulls circled, and visitors sat outside the cafes tucking into the catch of the day. I felt happy. I don’t know why, but it’s just one of those views that makes you feel alright with the world, and I headed down into the throng around the harbour with a spring in my step.
It's easy to find the building used as the doc’s surgery, just follow the sloping road away from the harbourside and it’s just on the left, usually with eager fans standing outside for that all-important photo. I stood there on the steps and could almost see Martin Clunes stomping angrily down the hill towards the village, which reminds me, if you do visit, wear flat shoes because those slopes are a tiny bit steep! I made my way back down the hill, pausing for a moment to take in the view on my way down, and then made my way back to the car.
Next time I visit, I’d like to pop into the café that backs onto the harbour beach, but the afternoon light was fading and I didn’t fancy driving those country roads in the dark. So next time…I’ll be stopping off for lunch and a little more of that view.
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