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Appointment with Doc Martin

Dissecting Port Isaac


View 2015 Compo and Doc Martin on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

From our Slipway Hotel window

From our Slipway Hotel window

View from our  of the Road up Roscarrock Hill to where Doc Martin's house (Fern Cottage) is

View from our of the Road up Roscarrock Hill to where Doc Martin's house (Fern Cottage) is


For people who like walking there are paths along the cliff tops which have (I am told) really nice views. You can start in the car park and walk along the path down into Port Isaac, and then climb Roscarrock Hill, past the Public Convenience (aka toilets) and past Fern Cottage which is used as Doc Martin's surgery in the film, and there is also a house with roof timbers tied on by an anchor chain, and the Sunday School with a bell from a shipwreck. Then walk along the edge of the cliff on the other side of the harbour.

I wrote the children that after our experience of the narrow twisty lanes getting here, that I didn't think Bob would drive out of here and then come back. (Later I figured out that one of those places where one GPS said to go right and the other one said to go left, I picked the wrong one. So we were not on any regular roads - we were actually on farm lanes)
View from our room with the tide partway out

View from our room with the tide partway out


I was trying to figure out something to do whilst here. We plan to do the Doc Martin tour today and I thought we might do a boat tour tomorrow. There are Cornwall boat trips to various locations from Rock and Padstow out towards Newquay or Bude where we could see wildlife such as Basking Sharks, Dolphins, Porpoises, Seals, Sun Fish and all sorts of sea birds including Puffins. But the boat won't be in the water until the 21st and we leave here on the 20th.
Cold buffet at breakfast

Cold buffet at breakfast


Breakfast at the hotel is 8:30-9:30 and is included in the price. We had a choice of three kinds of fruit juices (orange, apple and grapefruit) cold cereals and various kinds of eggs, porridge, sausage, bacon, kippers, tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, salmon, and toast with butter and marmalade. Bob just had special K and tea.
Looking through the kitchen door

Looking through the kitchen door


I had a
poached egg, tomato and mushrooms and the toast today

poached egg, tomato and mushrooms and the toast today


Each day I picked something different to have for breakfast.

About 10:30 we set off to explore the town. The Buttermilk Shop which sells fudge is Mrs. Tishall's Chemist in Port Wenn
large_7367768-Cliff_Walks.jpgThe Buttermilk Shop is right next to the hotel

The Buttermilk Shop is right next to the hotel


Fishermen and their crab pots

Fishermen and their crab pots


The first thing we saw was fishermen. Port Isaac has been a working fishing village since the early fourteenth century. In the mid 19th century, it was an active harbour where cargoes like stone, coal, timber and pottery were loaded and unloaded. Sometimes cargo was unloaded here before ships went to ports where there was a customs inspector so they wouldn't have to pay duty. They also exported slate from Delabole. The pier (which is still visible) was constructed during the reign of Henry the VIII. The ships in those days were sailing ketches which had a wide keel - wide enough to sit upright on the shingle at low tide. The railway and trucks finally ended the coastal trade at the start of the 20th century.
7366031-Port_Isaac_Fishermans_Ltd_Port_Isaac.jpg
Fishing and fish-processing were also important and today there are still fishermen here. As the century progressed the nature of the catch (originally pilchard) changed - from herring fishing which continued until the 1940s to mackerel and shellfish, crab and lobster. Unfortunately it wasn't the lobster season when we were there, but we did get some crab. Today the boats have inboard diesel engines instead of sails. The current Port Isaac Fisherman's Ltd is the site of the mid-nineteenth century Fish Cellars.Here you can buy fresh caught fish or crabs
Port Isaac Fisherman's Ltd

Port Isaac Fisherman's Ltd


7373131-Doggie_Friendly_Port_Isaac.jpg7373133-Doggie_Friendly_Port_Isaac.jpg
Sign warning cars of narrow road

Sign warning cars of narrow road

Street too narrow for a car

Street too narrow for a car

Velux windows

Velux windows

7370207-steps_Port_Isaac.jpgI have no idea what this is

I have no idea what this is


Bob on Fore Street reading a sign

Bob on Fore Street reading a sign

Backlit roof

Backlit roof

From the schoolhouse

From the schoolhouse


We took these photos of the houses on the opposite hill before we knew what we were taking a photo of
7369722-Fern_Cottage_Port_Isaac.jpgZoomed in on the Doc Martin Fern Cottage

Zoomed in on the Doc Martin Fern Cottage

On the cliff past Doc Martin's Fern Cottage

On the cliff past Doc Martin's Fern Cottage

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The tide was way out now.
Looking down on the harbor - tide out

Looking down on the harbor - tide out


In this area of extreme tides, boats are constructed so that they can sit flat on their bottoms. But they still have to be anchored, otherwise when the tide comes in, they would float away.
Boat waiting on the Platt - note anchor chains

Boat waiting on the Platt - note anchor chains


large_7369670-Storms_And_Tides.jpg7369658-Rock_Pools_At_Low_Tide.jpg
We saw people on the shore with their dogs - there appears to be at least one dog per two inhabitants here.
41913287367230-Lady_throwin..Port_Isaac.jpgPlaying on the Platt

Playing on the Platt

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The harbour also has very large tides. The whole beach is covered up to the road at really high tides. The tide doesn't usually come in so fast that it sweeps all before it. But that doesn't mean it can be ignored. Back in the day, people parked on the sand at low tide, because there is almost no parking in the village itself, and if you parked where we did in the (newer) municipal parking lot at the top of the village, you had to walk back up to it. Many, many people were caught out by the incoming tide. There was always an appreciative gallery, watching the horror on people's faces as they came back to find their pride and joy gradually being submerged, having failed to pay proper attention to the tide times written in big letters on the blackboard by the entrance. A local garage chap used to turn up in a very, very rusty old white Land Rover to tow them out, no doubt for a cash-in-hand fee. The only people who can park here now are locals
7369671-Storms_And_Tides.jpgVan parked on beach (on right)

Van parked on beach (on right)


From the bluffs above the beach I could see that there were pools in the rocks and along the edge of the sand which might hold little fish or sea creatures. If I had better mobility, I would have walked out on the beach at low tide and looked. There was a round thing which our guide said was a fish holding tank.
Looking down to the 'moat' - the round thing is a holding place for fish lobsters or crabs.

Looking down to the 'moat' - the round thing is a holding place for fish lobsters or crabs.

Bob looking at a No Parking sign on Fore Street

Bob looking at a No Parking sign on Fore Street


Warning on a wall

Warning on a wall


When I saw the warning not to stand on the wall, I laughingly suggested to Bob that he should get up there for a photo. For some reason, he did not think this was a very good idea :)

Basically this is not an easy place to see for a mobility impaired person. The town is built on a steep hill that drops off quickly to the harbour. If you are old, or infirm, you either figure out how you can do it, or you accept that this is not the place for you
One of the more level streets

One of the more level streets

Scaffolding on the left out of the street

Scaffolding on the left out of the street


At 11:30 there was to be a Doc Martin walking tour which we had registered for. My thought was that whenever the scooter and I couldn't manage the hills that Bob would go on without me. But it proved to be impossible to make him leave me to go through the narrow or cobblestone streets with the guide.
7365575-Narrow_Lanes.jpgWide car - narrow street

Wide car - narrow street

Channeling run-off

Channeling run-off


7369693-Fancy_stone_steps_Port_Isaac.jpgTraffic jam

Traffic jam


I was on a mobility scooter with a very narrow wheelbase The streets are (as you can see from the photos) very narrow in places and at one point there were two vehicles coming up and one vehicle was going down, but backing up to a wide space. I was sitting on the scooter taking pictures of the traffic jam, and decided to go to where I would be more out of the way - there was a terrace type thing over on the other side of the street. Bad idea.
7365574-Narrow_Lanes.jpgTraffic jam in Port Isaac

Traffic jam in Port Isaac

large_7367764-Lesser_Known_Doc_Martin_Locations.jpg
The street was steep and the scooter doesn't have a wide base. It fell over on it's side with me on it. The scooter was fine and so was I, but it wasn't particularly graceful. Everyone jumped out of their cars to help me up. Bob failed to take photo, and I couldn't of course

The tour was to start at a store called "May Contain Nuts" and the guide's name was John Brown (which he said he has always been teased about).
May Contain Nuts store front

May Contain Nuts store front


large_dbd04270-3d69-11e9-af8c-fb23acefc2c4.JPG
Port Wenn (Doc Martin) Tour sign in the window

Port Wenn (Doc Martin) Tour sign in the window


Bob and John Brown (the guide) at May Contain Nuts

Bob and John Brown (the guide) at May Contain Nuts

The guide's dog has to stay outside

The guide's dog has to stay outside


While you can wander around the town on your own (and the house used for the exterior of Doc Martin's house is signed), you will need a guide to explain things such as that the outside of the school is filmed in Port Isaac, but it is no longer a school so the interior school scenes are filmed at a school in a different town about 12 miles away which is still being used as a school.

The building used as a school exterior on Doc Martin dates from 1875 and was overseen by Cornwall’s most famous architect Silvanus Trevail, who designed around 50 schools in Cornwall. The hotel conversion came in the 1980s. The hotel has been owned by a local family since 2007.
7364523-Port_Wenn_Doc_Martin_Tour.jpgClock tower on the school

Clock tower on the school


We did not stay here because as soon as I booked (through Booking.com) I would have automatically been charged for one night. This building was originally the Port Isaac school (thus the name Old School Hotel) but it no longer has school rooms inside. The school children of Port Isaac have a new school in the newer part of town.
7366041-Bed_Breakfast_Port_Isaac.jpgSign outside the hotel

Sign outside the hotel


In addition to free parking they have wireless internet access in the public areas. There are 12 rooms. The views from the rooms are of either the cliffs to the west, the port to the south or the Atlantic to the north. All rooms are en-suite, have tea & coffee making facilities and breakfast is included in the rate.
large_562851387369528-School_which..Port_Isaac.jpg
On the Doc Martin tour we were told that the reason that they built a new school is that there are caves under the old school building. They were afraid that the cave would collapse and the children would be killed. So instead being a school playground it is a parking lot for the hotel.
Parking lot

Parking lot


Port Isaac has a sheltered harbour which allowed them to be an important shipping location in the past.
7369678-Storms_And_Tides.jpgOn the top of the cliff

On the top of the cliff


There are in addition the two breakwaters which were originally intended to overlap so that a boat would go in parallel between the breakwaters. But I was told that they ran out of money and didn't finish them. In certain wind directions, the waves were so great that the lifeboat couldn't be launched and and to be carried overland to a place which was more sheltered from the wind.
large_7369654-Rock_Pools_At_Low_Tide.jpg
This is unlikely to be a real problem for tourists unless they book a fishing trip or a boat tour.
7366288-Familiar_Store_Fronts.jpgOld Lifeboat Boathouse - now a store

Old Lifeboat Boathouse - now a store


Our guide John Brown covered the village history, the history of fishing, the lifeboat past and present and showed us some very out of the way places in Port Isaac. For such a small town there are a lot of hidden corners. Originally there was no place on the harbour front for a boathouse. So they housed the lifeboat in the Old Lifeboat House in Port Isaac which 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. Men had to pull it back up the hill.
Photo of pulling the lifeboat up the street

Photo of pulling the lifeboat up the street


Notch for the lifeboat to pass

Notch for the lifeboat to pass


There were two separate crews with two separate bosses - one crew to row the boat and one crew to get the boat into the water and back to the lifeboat house. This station was closed in 1933.
Cottage with a wall

Cottage with a wall


I asked John Brown if the little cottages (most of which are "listed") had street addresses for mail delivery or did they just have names.
Smuggler's Rest

Smuggler's Rest


I think he was a little offended and he said that the cottages all had both names and addresses.
7366313-48_The_Pebble_Port_Isaac.jpg#48 The Pebble-Seagull on the roof

#48 The Pebble-Seagull on the roof

#74 Peg's Folly with Bulls Eye glass in the door

#74 Peg's Folly with Bulls Eye glass in the door

#23

#23


Some of the names were a little unrealistic - like why is there a Chicago House in Port Isaac.
Chicago House door

Chicago House door


But some of them were completely appropriate - The Pump is next to one of the old water pumps which was where people went to get their water.
The Pump

The Pump


#76 Nyver Onen Canadian Terrace

#76 Nyver Onen Canadian Terrace

John Brown and Bob by Creel Cottage

John Brown and Bob by Creel Cottage


7366283-Familiar_Store_Fronts.jpg7366287-Familiar_Store_Fronts.jpgStowaway Tea Shop

Stowaway Tea Shop


Anyway John Brown, the tour guide was very knowledgeable and explained how they filmed everything. Cliff Cottage is one of the Doc Martin exteriors - it is a listed building. It was built by a gentleman called Valentine Powell Richards in 1868.
Cliff Cottage which was used in Doc Martin

Cliff Cottage which was used in Doc Martin


532900667369532-Cliff_Cottag..Port_Isaac.jpgPeak of Cliff Cottage roof

Peak of Cliff Cottage roof

7366315-Atlantic_House_Port_Isaac.jpgAtlantic House roof

Atlantic House roof

#43 Atlantic House

#43 Atlantic House

large_7367757-Lesser_Known_Doc_Martin_Locations.jpg
I took a lot of photos of architectural details
7369701-Old_church_window_Port_Isaac.jpgArched windows

Arched windows


Access point in the street

Access point in the street


Chimney and roof line

Chimney and roof line

Lamp at the roof peak

Lamp at the roof peak

260448757369530-St_Enellion_..Port_Isaac.jpgSt Enellion Parish Council House - Door is level - street is not

St Enellion Parish Council House - Door is level - street is not

Don't Even Think About Parking Here and Footpath Only - No Cycling

Don't Even Think About Parking Here and Footpath Only - No Cycling

Window over the ice cream shop

Window over the ice cream shop

Old pump and Sign pointing to town

Old pump and Sign pointing to town


We went out to where one of the other possible hotels was.
20512537373134-Road_up_on_t..Port_Isaac.jpgDog Waste Only

Dog Waste Only


There are over 90 listed buildings in Port Isaac, all of which are listed Grade II. Eighteenth century development took place along Church Hill, the original main road to St Endellion Church. After centuries of travelling to St Endellion for their services a chapel of ease was built for the Anglicans of Port Isaac between 1882-4. The church was sited on the newly excavated Back Hill and was described in the West of England Newspaper in 1884 – ‘The new building, which is dedicated to St Peter is a simple but substantial picturesque structure, in the Early English style.’ In June 1913 the village became a separate ecclesiastical parish and St Peters became the parish church, no-longer a daughter church to St Endellion.
The Parish Church of St Peter

The Parish Church of St Peter


Port Isaac Village Hall formerly Temperance Hall

Port Isaac Village Hall formerly Temperance Hall

The old Temperance Hall was built in 1895. The original purpose of this building was for meetings and supporters of the Temperance Movement, who wanted to reduce the use of hard liquor. When the building was built, they had a big parade and everything. This is now the Village Hall and is used for meetings and wedding receptions.
Port Isaac Village Hall 1890's

Port Isaac Village Hall 1890's

Guide by house

Guide by house


There was another couple with us from the Los Angelos area. She had a little camera but I didn't see her taking many photos.
Narrow passage where I couldn't follow

Narrow passage where I couldn't follow

Waiting at the top for them to climb up to us

Waiting at the top for them to climb up to us

Wall with a wooden fence

Wall with a wooden fence

Trashcans tied to a pipe

Trashcans tied to a pipe

Bulls eye glass on lower panes

Bulls eye glass on lower panes

Look up and see the bulls eye glass

Look up and see the bulls eye glass


Cottage

Cottage


Steep hillside

Steep hillside

Original cobblestones

Original cobblestones


We went up and down the hills- sometimes someone had to help push the scooter because it would go slower and slower. The narrow alleyways were locally known as drangs.
Port Isaac Lane

Port Isaac Lane


Hillside

Hillside


In the old days all the streets were made of cobblestones. I noticed that there was a kind of off-set ladder effect on the streets, so I asked about it. Apparently when the cottages were wired for electricity and when they no longer had to go to the village pumps to get their water, they took up the cobblestones and repaved the streets and lanes. But you can see where the connections are to each house if you look at the street.
Not only narrow but steep

Not only narrow but steep

more concrete differences in the road

more concrete differences in the road

Bow window

Bow window

7365831-Window_of_restaurant_Port_Isaac.jpgParking for a local van outside Slipway Hotel

Parking for a local van outside Slipway Hotel

Path through the cobblestones

Path through the cobblestones

Topiary anchor

Topiary anchor

Moveable  Umbrella Clothes Dryer

Moveable Umbrella Clothes Dryer

Another narrow place

Another narrow place


Back in the day there were only about three places where people could get water and that was at a community faucet. The pumps are still there, and one of them is next to a cottage called, appropriately, The Pump.

One of the three is up by the bus stop at the top of the village. One of the village’s pumps was situated in Middle Street making it an important place for local people to gather. Of course you could always get water from the stream
7367241-Water_pump_Port_Isaac.jpgOld water pump

Old water pump


John Brown showed us a place where a man in one house rented a room in an adjoining house. To get from one to the other they built an elevated hallway from one house to the other.
Passage from one house to another

Passage from one house to another

7367196-Scaffolding_Port_Isaac.jpgScaffolding around the chimney

Scaffolding around the chimney


People often come down to Port Isaac and think it will be a wonderful place to have a holiday cottage.
For Sale

For Sale


Don't be seduced to by the picturesque unless you have deep pockets. These charming little places are OLD and need constant upkeep and repair. Probably the third largest number of employees in Port Isaac (after fishing and tourism) are the trades - carpenters, painters, electricians, and plumbers. There's always work for them
7367199-Scaffolding_with_car_Port_Isaac.jpgScaffolding

Scaffolding


The stream that he said the kids played in when he was a boy is now mostly enclosed and runs through pipes.
Stream alternative

Stream alternative

Another shot of the stream

Another shot of the stream

walking bridge over the stream

walking bridge over the stream

Green Balcony window

Green Balcony window

Electric conduit on the side of a building

Electric conduit on the side of a building

Whitewashed wall

Whitewashed wall


At the end of the tour we walked up Roscarrock Hill.
Sign at the bottom of Roscarrock Hill

Sign at the bottom of Roscarrock Hill

large_7367770-Cliff_Walks.jpgTide is out

Tide is out

Roscarrock Hill different paving leading to houses

Roscarrock Hill different paving leading to houses


Eat And Shop

Eat And Shop

Roscarrock Hill by the public toilets

Roscarrock Hill by the public toilets

Chimney overlooking harbour

Chimney overlooking harbour

Boat is afloat

Boat is afloat

School with caves underneath

School with caves underneath

Cliff edge past the old schoolhouse

Cliff edge past the old schoolhouse


To Fern Cottage. The cottage was used as the surgery for Doc Martin. Today, it is a 2 bedroom self catering holiday cottage. it is not open to the public and is fenced off. John Brown asked us if we wanted to have our photo taken in front of the cottage and the other couple who took the tour with us took him up on it, but we didn't want to intrude.
Facade of Fern Cottage

Facade of Fern Cottage

Chained off with a keep out sign

Chained off with a keep out sign

Path up the cliffs

Path up the cliffs

Old School side of the harbor

Old School side of the harbor

large_7369668-Storms_And_Tides.jpglarge_7364521-Port_Wenn_Doc_Martin_Tour.jpg
A remnant of the past - the old bracket for the lamp that was tended by the lamplighter.
Lamp lighter's bracket

Lamp lighter's bracket

Lady with her dog

Lady with her dog

Triple window

Triple window


John told us that this alley known as Temple Bar 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.
Temple Bar - the narrowest thoroughfare

Temple Bar - the narrowest thoroughfare


After we finished the tour it was about one o'clock and I got a Cornish pastry (cheese and onion)
Part of the package

Part of the package

Typical pasty - taken for lunch by Cornish miners

Typical pasty - taken for lunch by Cornish miners

After I had eaten some of the Pasty

After I had eaten some of the Pasty


and Bob got a BLT. I was sitting on the bench outside the shop eating my pastry (watched intently by two black dogs, one of whom was doing some drooling)
He's been swimming

He's been swimming


and the guide sat down (it was his bench and one of the dogs was his) and we discussed what we were going to do tomorrow. Eventually he said that he did van tours and so that's what we are going to do tomorrow. Also he will take us out to the ATM machine where I can get some more cash. Bob had to get change this morning to pay at the car park. It is £5 a day.
on the way back to the hotel

on the way back to the hotel

Current lifeboat station

Current lifeboat station


The current lifeboat station is down by the Slipway Hotel across from the harbor. It operates an inflatable inshore D class lifeboat which the village acquired in 1966 You can see the lifeboat in the Lifeboat station if the station is open.. It is a Discovery station so it is normally open to visitors in the summer months.
Lifeboat station windows

Lifeboat station windows

Danger Working Harbour (i.e. no parking)

Danger Working Harbour (i.e. no parking)

Slipway for Lifeboat

Slipway for Lifeboat

Electricans van parked temporarily

Electricans van parked temporarily


Bob and I between us took 203 photos (21 of those were Bob's). While I was looking at email, he walked back up to the car park and paid for today's parking.
Entrance from the upper level dining to rooms

Entrance from the upper level dining to rooms

Chandelier from the second story dinner area

Chandelier from the second story dinner area


For dinner, Bob had the
Chicken entree

Chicken entree


and I had the
Grilled fillet of Bream-smoked Haddock chowder

Grilled fillet of Bream-smoked Haddock chowder


We tried dessert also and Bob had a brownie with chocolate ice cream
large_IMG_0386.JPG
and I had a kind of
Cheesecake with clotted cream

Cheesecake with clotted cream

Posted by greatgrandmaR 21:13 Archived in England

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Comments

The photo you've labelled 'Modern roof vents?' shows what we call velux windows, which people fit when they've had their loft converted to a usable room with proper flooring, electricity etc. But I'm not sure about the nearby object - maybe just a decorative sculpture? What you call bull's eye glass we call bottle glass, because it looks like the bottom of a bottle.

The tour sounds interesting, especially the stuff about launching the lifeboat down the village street. I guess no one would mind so much if tourists staying at the Old School were to be killed by the caves collapsing?!

by ToonSarah

Amazing scenery!

How long time did they pull the lifeboat up and down the streets? Years? Odd that they didn't think anything to avoid that...:)

I would love to do similar tour you take on Doc Martin but on Emmerdale! :)

by hennaonthetrek

Sarah I can understand the old glass being called bottle glass- I don't know where the term Bulls-eye came from.

I think they felt that it was the tourist's cars that would fall into the cave.

I think that the old lifeboat station was in operation for about 75 years. It was a big lifeboat because it was human powered - it would be too big to fit in the current lifeboat station. The whole lifeboat operation was dangerous for the men manning the lifeboat.

I had to look up Emmerdale. That's an interesting idea - you'll have to look and see if there is a tour like that.

by greatgrandmaR

I thought more in the line to make a space to the lifeboat somewhere where you wouldn't need to drag it through the town to get it in to the water...:)

Actually leics2 tipped me with an link to Emmerdale studio tours which I am highly tempted to add in to the trip when I get to go to England! :)

by hennaonthetrek

I thought Emmerdale was in Ireland.

There's not a lot of accessible real estate right next to the harbor. They couldn't use the space where the fisherman's co-op market was, and our hotel which was built in the 1500s was also there and was a ship chandlery. They would have had to take something down to make room

by greatgrandmaR

Oh I see you meant studio tours and not tours of the farm

by greatgrandmaR

Nope, it's filmed in Leeds. :)

I think they still use the original Emmerdales Farm farm, (Sudgens farm in Emmerdale farm (1972-1989), Bartons farm in Emmerdale (1989-)) but I didn't see that it would have been included in the tour..

by hennaonthetrek

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